World Whisky Day – 2012 – The Smoky Martini with Wemyss Malts

Today is the 1st World Whisky Day and hopefully folks all around the world will celebrate by enjoying delicious drams. With so many great whisky products around, it would have been difficult to decide what to write about today if it hadn’t been for a recent surprise packet from Wemyss Malts, which contained their suggestion for a cocktail for the day.

Wemyss Malts was founded by the Wemyss family, who have been involved in malt whisky for a long time, with links going back to the 19th Century, when John Haig (founder of Haig’s) built his first distillery on Wemyss land. Today, barley from the Wemyss Estate is still used by many Scotch distillers, and Cameron Bridge Distillery is located just a few miles from Wemyss Castle.

Wemyss malt, blend and sell a range of whiskies, each described by style rather than by the finer details of the distillery. Their products include the following whisky blends: Spice King, Peat Chimney and Smooth Gentleman. Some of their single cask, single malt whiskies include: Bonfires on the Beach, Smoke on the Sea Shore and The Honey Pot.

The cocktail recommended to us for World Whisky Day combines the loves of both Mrs B and myself: whisky and gin. It is called the Smoky Martini.

Smoky Martini
50ml Darnley’s View Gin
5ml Wemyss Peat Chimney Whisky
5ml Noilly Dry Vermouth

Simply stir and garnish with a spiral of lemon peel.

What I thought:
This is a Vesper-esque golden yellow in colour. Initially, you get the zest of the lemon on the nose, but when you take your first sip, you are met with the bold, classic gin flavours of the Darnley’s View, alongside a little dryness from the gin and then the full impact of the peaty whisky, which gave the drink a great, smoky finish. This made me think of a late night Martini.

Mrs B’s Take:

“Ooh, that’s lovely!”

“There’s a real burst of peat that then disappears to leave some warmth and a lighter smoke.” 

“A very well-managed peatiness: smooth and elegant, but still full of flavour.”

Those were her initial reactions; here are her written tasting notes:
“This was an absolutely lovely cocktail: every sip was smooth and yet packed with flavour. You start with the measured introduction of the gin, before being bombarded with a real burst of peatiness that then quickly fades to a lighter smokiness, accompanied by a glowing warmth. I think I’ve just found a new top-three-favourite cocktail!”

Wemyss Peat Chimney 8 Year Old

As a bonus, here are Mrs. B’s tasting notes for the Wemyss Peat Chimney 8 Year Old, which is a non-chillfiltered blend of malt whiskies with an emphasis on 8 Year Old Islay malt. It is bottled at 40%ABV. Peat Chimney is also available in expressions of 5 and 12 years.

Nose: Light and vibrant, with hints of honey and apples amongst a backdrop of grain, fresh straw and light peat.
Taste: An initial smoothness is quickly dominated by strong straw and peaty notes, which ripple out from the centre of your tongue. The peat hangs around for a while, developing alongside a wonderful warmth, before leaving a long, distinctly savoury finish that reminded me a tad of oatcakes. I liked the powerful, peat-based character that had the perfect balance of strength of flavour and smoothness, making it thoroughly enjoyable on its own.

Mrs. B’s Final Word
So that marks the first World Whisky Day. I can’t quite believe that this hasn’t been celebrated before (not that you need a specific day to celebrate with a good whisky!), but – regardless – here’s to another year of exploring what whiskies you like, the cocktails you enjoy them in, and the friendships formed along the way. Happy World Whisky Day, everybody. *Raises glass*

Special thanks to Wemyss Malts and to Blair Bowman, the founder of World Whisky Day.