May 31, 2016 – Wales’ only whisky distillery may be about to expand its presence outside of the town of Penderyn as part of a revitalization plan for the historic Hafod Morfa Copperworks in Swansea. The Welsh Whisky Company is one of the partners in the plan, along with Swansea Council and Swansea University. According to the South Wales Evening Post, the local council has reached the first stage toward a £3.75 million GBP ($5.4 million USD) grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project, and will receive a grant of £189,600 GBP ($275,000 USD) to develop its proposal for the site along the River Tawe.
The site was once the world’s largest copper plant, and operated from 1809 until it finally closed in 1980. The mill’s main building is the only one still standing of the 124 different mills that operated along the River Tawe during its heyday as a global copper manufacturing center, and is now open to the public as a historic site. Local leaders have been trying to redevelop the area along the river with an eye to increasing tourism opportunities, and see a Penderyn presence as vital to the success of that plan as the distillery’s natural reliance on copper for its stills would provide a unique link to Swansea’s historical connection to the copper industry.
Penderyn’s original distillery is located about 25 miles east of Swansea in the Brecon Beatons National Park, and was the first legal distillery in Wales for more than 100 years when it opened. Managing director Stephen Davies told the Evening Post “this is an exciting opportunity to expand the business, and also to celebrate the copper heritage in Swansea with our premium Welsh brand.” If constructed, the Swansea facility would include a second distillery and visitors center to complement the existing site in Penderyn.