Wemyss Malts may not strike many a chord for whisky drinkers, but this small family company should be on any malt lover’s radar. The company provides barley for many distilleries and has been in the business since turn of the 19th century.
The own-label malts do not give-away distillery names, only ages and whether they are blends or single casks. The basis behind the malts is to provide a simple definition for whisky lovers with easy to identify names such as: ‘Honey Spice’, ‘Caribbean Fruits’, ‘Smokehouse’, and ‘Red Berry Cream’ each of which are meant to signify the main flavour involved in the whisky.
The company has won loads of awards, including a double-gold medal at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Compeition for its 8-year old Peat Chimney.
I was given some samples a little while back but confess I didn’t get to trying them as quickly as I had planned. I’m so glad I have done now.
Here I review four of the brand’s whiskies – I look forward to seeing what else comes from the company in the future.
The whisky was quite light to smell, with notes of creamy vanilla, honey, lemon rind, chlorine and oak.
On the palate it came through much more boyantly with flavours of rich toffee and sudden burst of caramelised smoke and ginger which was very exciting and unexpected.
It finished on a spicy high with a chilli-note at the tip of the tongue and a residual, cinnamon warmth throughout the back of the palate. Very nice indeed.
The Hive: 12 year old – 40%
A gentler dram even than the eight year old. Hints of beeswax, vanilla and very creamy fudge on the nose.
On the palate, it’s lighter than the eight year old to start with a quicker leap to a more pungent smokiness with hints of allspice. It softens out as it goes, leaving honey flavours in its wake.
This is a top-quality, delectable dram. I’m not surprised it won the “best blended whisky” accolade at this year’s Whisky Magazine awards.
This amber coloured dram is, I’m told, a Bunnahabhain single cask. Rich, woody scents pervade, with hints of stewed apple, sherry, brown sugar and a honey liquor I once I had in an eastern European country.
It’s oily on the tongue; really fills the mouth. Notes of fresh ground pink peppercorns, honey, golden syrup and apples start off this gum-tingling dram, which proceeds to finish on a wood-filled, spicy, smoky note. A touch of water brings down the burn and softens the slightly bitter aftertaste.
I like this whisky and, while it’s not my favourite of the four, it’s got a lot going for it.
Highland Single Cask, 21 year old: “Caribbean Fruits” – 46%
This dram is the colour of summer straw but takes you straight from hay fields to the heat of a tropical island. Bursting fresh pineapple and coconut overwhelm the nose, while sweet hints of maraschino cherries and mango provide a Caribbean punch.
A delicious concoction follows of barbequed pineapple, hazlenuts, fresh grass, vanilla and papaya. I literally went, “ooooo” when I tried this. It won’t be for everyone, but I got a lot of pleasure out of this basket of flavours.