I am always a fan of whisky companies which have a bit of fun with naming their releases and Wemyss Malts is always a strong player in this field.
The Edinburgh-based independent bottler and blender (and soon to be new distillery owner) brings out single cask releases on a fairly regular basis. I reviewed three (and gave more background on the company) in this post in February and have recently received three more to take a look at.
What I enjoy about Wemyss is the fact each release is given a different title which best reflects the flavour profile within that bottling. The idea is to give consumers a quick-look reference guide to how the dram might smell and taste, and each name is decided upon by a nosing panel, which is led by renowned whisky expert and bon vivant Charlie Maclean.
The new releases I received were all very appealing upon first look: ‘Candied Fruits’, ‘Chocolate Honeycomb’ and ‘Ginger Spice’ (almost certainly my favourite spice girl).
They were a part of six, which hit shelves a few weeks back. In the same collection was also the ‘Pears and Almonds’, ‘Toasted Hazelnuts’ and ‘Dark Chocolate Orange’.
So, did the nosing panel manage to gauge these new releases correctly? Let’s take a look at what I thought…
Wemyss Malts: ‘Candied Fruits’: 1998 Auchentoshan: 46%:
(C): Pale straw
(N): Initially, I was hit with the smell of the inside of a sweet wrapper off of a boiled sweet. This was followed by something slightly floral, a very delicate note of honey and just a dash of something pepperminty (like how an empty box previously holding peppermint teabags smells). After a sip, just a hint of leather and candied strawberry sweets emerges. With water, more fruity notes emerge – I got vanilla dusted pears and Refresher candies, with something cherry like at the back; very appealing.
(P): More tart and earthy on the palate than first expected from nose with a heavy body and a slightly tannic dryness followed by a dash of orange pith, which was quite surprising. Hardly any bite despite being 46%. With water, there was less dryness and more balance. The vanilla shone through but there was still a bit of orangey sharpness.
(F): Ginger wrapped in cardboard.
In conclusion, I thought this had a great nose with and without water. The palate was a bit drying for my liking but it had a really great body and mouthfeel.
Wemyss Malts: ‘Chocolate Honeycomb’: 2001 Bunnahabhain: 46%:
(C): Buttered toffee
(N): Initially a dusty, honey note – in fact, loads of honey. Then something a bit spicy with dashes of the smell of the inside of a chocolate bar wrapper rather than straight-up chocolate. With water, less of a sweet honeyed, toffee nose. Smell reminded me of a news agents: that combination of newspapers and loads of chocolate on display.
(P): Really buttery caramel – could almost imagine chewing a toffee and I was keen to try pouring this over ice cream. There was a dash of warmth, spice and earthiness in an almost-smoke like note but only there to give it body. Very rich. With water, it was a bit more gentle and elegant, but I preferred the huge honey-toffee hit of the dram without water.
(F): Chocolate, lots of chocolate.
In conclusion, I really liked this one. It was heady and rich, with thick honey and creamy toffee goodness.
Wemyss Malts: ‘Ginger Spice’: 1988 Glenrothes: 46%:
(C): Golden toffee coins from Quality Street
(N): Very buttery at first with a lovely biscuity appeal. A touch of cookie dough and warm, sugary fruits (peaches and red grapes in particular). A dash of gooey honey makes this a sweet treat. With water, more of a citrus, lemony note emerges along with melting brown sugar.
(P): Very biscuit filled for me but I was hoping for more oomph as the palate felt a bit flat at first. A bit of a ginger syrup note and butter addition made it appealing but just not quite rich enough for me. With water, there was a dash of berried fruit to add in with an overlap of caramel.
(F): Dry, spicy finish. With water, more of a fruity, bubblegum note.
In conclusion: I loved the nose but was hoping for more of a “Ginger Spice” hi-yaw kick. It was very pleasant but not my favourite of the three.