I often get asked what my ‘favourite whisky’ is. When I dodge that question, saying that I am constantly finding new ones to enjoy, people often then ask if there is a particular style that I prefer to go for. This too varies. One month I might love cask strength whiskies, then the next I’ll be waxing lyrical about subtle, gentler ones.
However, one category I do always appreciate getting the chance to explore regardless of my mood is that of single cask whiskies. I like single cask whiskies in particular because I think it gives a person a good indication not only of the distillery itself but of the influence of a style of cask on that whisky brand in particular.
One company that I’ve found myself trying more and more of over the past year or so has been Wemyss Malts (check out my reviews of the company’s other releases this year here). Even if I don’t love everything that comes out (who loves every whisky, after all?) I am a big fan of the company’s style – the distilled-down whisky names that get straight to the point of what’s in the bottle, the interesting casks, the great packaging.
I was recently sent along three samples of the latest range to come out. As always with Wemyss Malts, each is single cask and 46% ABV.
Here’s what I thought of the bunch…
(c): Very pale straw
(n): Fresh chocolate peppermints, lots of vanilla, pine resin, marzipan and dried mint leaves. With water: fresh sugar cane and peppermint tea with lots of white sugar.
(p): Lovely and fresh on the palate but with a good body – bananas, vanilla and hot milk with cinnamon before creamy lemon meringue pie and slightly minty zing (like the smell of peppermint wrappers; it’s there but delicately). With water, a bit more depth – becomes darker almost with more of that peppermint and paper note.
(f): Quite sweet – gets sweeter through the sip to finish. With water: sharper and spicier.
Toffee Glaze: 1997 Clynelish: Highland:
(c): Golden brown
(n): Werther’s Originals, orange cake, pic n mix caramel cubes, yellow flowers (maybe daffodils?), sticky toffee pudding. With water: more cakey and softer generally. A slightly acidic, tart note comes out too.
(p): Cola bottles rush at me at first. Nice, dark, zingyness – cooked plums, ham cooked in coca-cola (a bit meaty; a bit sweet) with dark licorice notes. Sweetness increases at first with water (brown sugar notes) but then it transfers into a fudge bar with a spot of cloves.
(f): Slightly rubbery and drying. With water: black licorice laces.
A Peaty Punch: 1997 Bunnahabhain: Islay:
(n): Lemon and toffee dusted cigarettes followed by strawberry foams and salted caramels. With water: a creamy, vanilla side comes out and there’s a good whack of marzipan there too.
(p): Cool peaty seawater, with lemon sherbets, black pepper and cinnamon bark. With water: slightly sharper (a bit peatier and more lemony) though less peppery. Some nice vanilla cake notes too, making it rounder on the palate.
(f): Rubbery cloves. With water: Vanilla pods in an ashtray.
In conclusion, a nice set from a company I really enjoy seeing what’s new from. My favourite is definitely the Aultmore – a great balance of freshness and sweetness makes it a perfect dram in the lead-up to what will inevitably be the chocolate-filled Christmas season.