Wemyss Malts were on of the first ranges on whisky I covered when I started Drinks Enthusiast back in 2011. Since then, Wemyss Malts range of expressions have grown, culminating in some hand-crafted beauties! Before I re-visit though, lets take a look at Wemyss;
Wemyss Malts, pronounced ‘Weems’, are a boutique whisky company with connections to the Wemyss family who hailed from Fife, Scotland. Wemyss itself comes from the Gaelic word for caves which stems from the rocky outcrop on the Firth of Forth on which the family home of Wemyss Castle sits.
The Wemyss Land was used at the turn of the 19th century where a gentleman named John Haig built his first distillery on the island. It is said that John’s passion for the industry made him realise the confusion that consumers had with the ever-increasing terminology of the whisky industry. With this, he aimed to create his whiskies and not only make them more accessible, but also understandable.
Wemyss Malts use a combination of the taste and aromas of each individual whisky to identify each bottling, rather than the traditional distillery way, resulting in the consumer understanding the style being purchased more easily.
But what about the whisky?
Wemyss Malts have two sub-categories – Blended Malts and Single Casks. With the blended, the Wemyss family hand select each individual cask, under the expert eye of Charlie Maclean, chair of the Wemyss Nosing Panel for both the Single Casks and Blended Malts.
Up to sixteen different single malt whiskies are blended together before introducing the “signature” malts to create the three distinct taste profiles.
Question is, does this really de-mystify the whisky labelling? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
The Hive 8yr – 40%
The Hive range uses a signature malt is from Speyside.
A sweet nose with a mix of wood and leather aromas, becoming more vibrant upon the palate. Smooth, plenty of light honey flavours to create a lingering finish.
On the nose, the sweet scent of honey is dominant which carries nicely onto the palate. A slight buttery scent is also present. The fresh flavour of the honey spread along the palate and gives a bit of a spice kick near the end. A snip of vanilla is their but the honey is the main characteristic.
Spice King 8yr – 40%
Spice King range uses a signature malt is from the Highlands.
A fresh nose of spice become a little dry as it develops, although retains its smoothness. A slight sweetness on the palate, with dry pepper and spice evident creating a lingering warm finish.
Spice King 12yr – 40%
A bold, rich nose of sherry mixing with lemon zest but a slight harsh entrance on the palate. Bitter lemon and ginger flavours linger with spice notes and leads into an oak finish which leaves the mouth a little dry.
Peat Chimney 8yr – 40%
Bottled October 2010. The Peat Chimney range uses a signature malt is from Islay.
Light peat aromas on the nose, with a balance of heather and honey developing. Light on the palate too, with honey evident, moving to a lingering peat finish with some bold whispers.
Peat Chimney 8yr – 40%
A tweaked version of the above, sampled on 18th May 2014.
Very light, honey peated notes on the nose, with a little whisp of heather and heat. Incredibly sharp peat flavours on the palate, creating a spice heat that sticks to the roof of your mouth. Hard peat flavours on the finish, with a little smokey wood and honey elements thrown in. Lingering.
Peat Chimney 12yr – 40%
Soft peat notes on the nose with an oily scent soon after with a hint of sea salt. Heavy flavours of peat do mellow out as it comes to a finish, with a ‘peat chimney’ smoke on the after-taste.
Wemyss Malts are also the producers of premium blended whisky Lord Elcho. David, Lord Elcho, eldest son of the 5th Earl of Wemyss, was one of the most celebrated supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie during the ill-fated Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Flirting between England and France originally, he settled in Italy and met Charles Edward Stewart, playing a significant role in the uprising, eventually being appointed colonel of the Prince’s lifeguards. After being defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he was punished with the stripping of his land and titles and forced into exile.
Lord Elcho whisky is a nod to his life, created to honour the “refined masculine spirit of its namesake”.
Lord Elcho 15yr – 40%
Bottled August 2012. Crafted from a selection of malt and grain whiskies. Light, with lingering honey notes finishing with a slight sweetness on the nose. A well-rounded palate of honey and toasted wood, with the sweetness and warmth resulting in a lingering finish.
Lord Elcho NAS – 40%
Light cereal notes on the nose, with hints of honey and syrup coming through. Plenty of honey on the palate, with a light enjoyment of cocoa, fudge and creamy dry spice with cinnamon, ginger and cardoman. Long and warming.
Some absolute crackers to enjoy in your favourite whisky glass. But Wemyss Malts are versatile, with leading bartender Jason Scott of Bramble, Edinburgh creating gems such as –
Hive and Seek
40 ml Wemyss Hive Whisky 12yr
20 ml fresh lemon juice
2 bar spoons (10ml) saffron honey or orange blossom honey
Dash pasteurised egg white
Pour all ingredients into shaker and dry shake (no ice). Fill with ice and shake rapidly. Double strain.
50 ml Peat Chimney Whisky 12yr
14 mint leaves
2 bar spoons Demerara sugar
Spritz of Fernet Branca
Firstly spray the inside of cup with Fernet Branca. Separately, with all ingredients and cubed ice in a mixing glass, stir till ice cold and the flavours and aromas of the mint have infused into the liquid. Single strain over cracked ice in cup.
Brilliant! A superb range across the board, with personal favourites being The Hive and Peat Chimney. Although I’m yet to experience their Single Casks, I can only imagine that I will be impressed. Wemyss are coming out with a fantastic portfolio, diving into their heritage and creating blended whiskies, premium offerings, single casks and even two expressions of gin. You may not see this everywhere when it comes to bars and restaurants, but I can guarantee, if you know a venue with a good whisky selection, expect to see some Wemyss. It would be VERY rude not too. If not, pick one up for your drinks cabinet.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.