Michael Cragg wins the Penderyn Music Book Prize for 'Reach For The Stars.'

Penderyn Music Book Prize Awarded To Michael Cragg For ‘Reach For The Stars’

JonAwards, National Press, Penderyn Prize

Multi-awarded Winning Whisky Distillery Celebrates 10 Years of Sponsoring Prestigious Literary Award

Penderyn Distillery, makers of award-winning Welsh whiskies, is proud to announce that Michael Cragg has won the 10th Penderyn Music Book Prize for his acclaimed book ‘Reach For The Stars – 1996-2006: Fame, Fallout and Pop’s Final Party.’ The prize was awarded at the Laugharne Weekend literary festival on Sunday 17th March.

Cragg’s vivid chronicle of the UK pop music scene at the turn of the millennium was praised by celebrated author Richard Osman as “A brilliant, celebratory, gossipy history of 90s pop. You’ll love it.”

Upon receiving the award, Cragg said: “I know it’s a cliche but I was genuinely happy just to have been nominated for this prestigious prize, so to actually win it is pretty overwhelming. I’ve never won anything before outside of a high jump medal at school. Reach For The Stars is about a great moment for UK pop that was often overlooked, or dismissed, so to help shine a light on its brilliance again feels very special. I want to say a huge thank you to Penderyn Distillery for celebrating music books so voraciously, and to the Laugharne Weekend for putting on such an incredible lineup of clever and funny people. I can’t believe my name has now joined this roll call of great authors, and I’m also proud that I’m helping to celebrate proper pop music (stream Girls Aloud’s Tangled Up album!)”

Pete Selby, Publishing Director at Nine Eight Books, added: “It has been an honour – as well as a lot of fun – to publish Michael’s work on UK Pop’s last hurrah at the turn of the century. I am delighted that the Penderyn prize have recognised the joy and exhilaration as well as heartache and pathos of this magnificent and genre defining book for the ages.”

The Penderyn Music Book Prize, founded in 2014, aims to celebrate the best new publications exploring all aspects of musical history and culture. As the prize’s founding sponsor, Penderyn Distillery has played a vital role in championing exceptional writing about music over the past decade.

“It’s long been an oddity that while there are prizes for the best sports book of the year, the best travel book, the best food and drink book, there has never been a prize for the best music book,” said organizer Richard Thomas. “So when we spotted this glaring omission, we felt it was pretty much our civic duty to right that wrong. Publishers and booksellers alike agreed that this was indeed a prize waiting to happen, and one they’d gladly support. And seeing that the Laugharne Weekend’s preferred drinking venue – also Dylan Thomas’s former local, The Brown’s – is well supplied with Penderyn Whisky, it didn’t take us long to think up our ideal sponsors for such a prize.”

Stephen Davies, CEO of Penderyn Distillery, commented: “We have had books by Mark Lewisohn, Jon Savage, Shirley Collins, Pete Paphides amongst others, and we congratulate Michael Cragg for winning the 10th Penderyn Prize. Good stories, music and the finest single malt go hand-in-hand, and Penderyn are big fans of the work Richard Thomas and John Williams have done with the Laugharne Weekend. As we all love our music at the distillery, we are delighted to sponsor this exciting prize.”

The Penderyn Music Book Prize continues to grow in stature and prominence each year, shining a spotlight on exceptional literary works exploring music’s enduring cultural impact. As a quintessentially Welsh brand committed to celebrating the arts, Penderyn Distillery remains honoured to lend its name to such a prestigious accolade.

More information on the Penderyn Music Book Prize can be found at www.penderynprize.com.


About Penderyn Distillery


Located in the scenic Brecon Beacons, Penderyn Distillery was Wales’ first distillery in over 100 years. Since its establishment in 2000, Penderyn has gained global recognition for its award-winning whiskies. Penderyn exports to over 50 countries, has won over 120 major international whisky awards, was in the Top 10 Single Malt Whisky producers in the UK in 2023, and now has 3 distilleries in Wales, in Penderyn (our headquarters), Swansea and Llandudno.