Today, I want to write about two whiskies that I tried a little while back from Wemyss Malts. They are part of their range of blended whiskies, which they’ve named to represent the predominant flavours in each: Spice King, Peat Chimney, and The Hive; the idea behind such names is that the customer knows what they’re getting, thus making the bottles that little bit more accessible. I both like and admire this “straight-talking” approach.
Behind those straight-forward names (and those rather attractive labels), however, the flavours are anything but simple or boring. The casks of whiskies used in each blend are hand-picked, ensuring both that each contributory spirit adds something to each of the blend’s profiles, and that it complements the particular character in question. Here are my thoughts on the 8 Year Old “Spicy” and “Peaty” whiskies.
Spice King 8 Years Old (40%ABV)
Nose: Dark spice and fruit notes, reminiscent of Pedro Ximenez sherry and raisins, trailing off towards a sweet, heavy smokiness that’s infused with dark brown sugar.
Taste: A surprisingly savoury start – all the more so, given the rich sweetness of the nose – is followed by unreserved, genuine wood notes that are accompanied by a glowing warmth of the kind that you’d associate with warm spice; I was also reminded of the comforting warmth of good mulled wine. The finish is slightly sweeter and more like the nose, being predominantly of raisin, with just a little, sweet cinnamon and orange.
Peat Chimney 8 Years Old (40%ABV)
Nose: Light, soft, organic peatiness, along with notes of straw and sweet, sappy syrup. This nose is sweet and earthy, rather than charred!
Taste: Wow!* Dry initially, followed by a flash of sweetness that’s backed up by organic peatiness. This slowly develops, gaining the warmth of chili and a complex, rapidly changing array of organic flavours, including apple and rolled oats. The sweet peatiness returns on the finish.
I think both of these are wonderful whiskies, each isolating and presenting a well-known character of whisky, and doing it with such complexity and balance (almost “graceful”, if a whisky could be called that) that I was left both impressed and sorry that my miniature bottles were, very quickly, empty. Although it was a close contest, I think I narrowly preferred the comforting, warm Spice King.
– Mrs. B.
* The actual first word in my tasting notes.