Thursday night I was fortunate enough to partake in another Twitter Tasting run by Steve over at the Whisky Wire. Tonight’s drams were four eclectic samples from Wemyss Malts and I’ve definitely found another bottle for the shelf, and at a bargain price too!
Wemyss (pronounced ‘weems‘) means caves in gaelic and comes from the caves on the rocky shore of Fife beside Wemyss Castle which is the historic family home of the Wemyss family. Wemyss uses Charles McArthur to chair the nosing panel, who plays a key role in the selection of the blends and single casks bottlings. Wemyss names these in a unique way – it uses the nose and taste profile to come up with the bottling’s name, creating awesome labels such as ‘Billowing Embers’, ‘Maritime Embrace’ and, one from tonight’s range, ‘Merchant’s Mahogany Chest’.
The new NAS Blend from Wemyss is Lorde Elcho named after the eldest son of the 5th Earl of Wemyss, This looks like it will be a very attractive bottle with a very noble blue colour scheme, offsetting the golden colour of the spirit, I can see it sitting well on the shelf. And at just under £24, it’s a bit of a bargain.
Nose: Toffee, Hazelnut, light fruit notes and very sweet. Has a menthol freshness to it, as found in many younger spirits that I’ve tried.
Palate: Nice long finish, refreshing. Strong sweetness and toffee with a very smooth buttery mouth feel. Again a fresh finish.
Overall, this was a lovely start to the evening. A very gentle spirit and extremely drinkable. It’s not the most complex whisky you’ll ever have, but it certainly is good place to start on a evening of whisky exploration.
Pastille Bouque (Mortlach 1998)
The second of our samples and first of the Single Cask offerings. This is a 1998 Mortlach, priced just under £67. This had a strength of 46% – Wemyss put out all their single casks at this strength or above.
Nose: Green – fresh, grassy, lime citrus. Light with some floral notes.
Palates: More citrus, floral notes. Pear drops with a light tobacco and overall spicy finish.
This was my first chance to try a Mortlach and I expected something with more weight and a lot smokier, but this was still very pleasant. It’s light colour and nose do not do the palate justice – this is certainly bigger than you initially expect.
Merchant’s Mahogany Chest – A 1991 Campbeltown
The third offering was the amazingly named Merchant’s Mahogany Chest – A 1991 Campbeltown. Priced at just over £100, this was the ‘highlight’ of the evening.
Nose: Leather, raisins, saltiness. Very robust and complex. The kind of glass that you enjoy on the nose, more than the palate.
Palate: Winey, but not sherry, much more mild than anticipated. Nice oily finish.
Almost in opposite to the Mortach, the colour and nose of this dram promise a deep, sherry taste with a long finish, but it’s not there. Personally not my favourite, but I know people who would love this and would get more of the subtle complexities. I was expecting a Michael Bay classic explosion movie, but instead I got Stanley Kubrick.
For the final dram we returned to the blended malts with their Peat Chimney – an 8 year old for £28.35 bottled at 40%. This is a blend over 16 different malts, the majority of which are of course Islay.
Nose: Sweet peatiness, combined with a delicate smoke and light fruit.
Palate: Very light at first then a crescendo of peat, iodine and smoke.
I was looking forward to this one, perhaps a little too much as it didn’t deliver as much as I’d hoped. I like my Islay’s strong, young and peaty and unfortunately it wasn’t quite up to competition, but then it shouldn’t be at the price. As an introductory dram to the region, this would be very helpful in steering people to the island, before unleashing one of the peat monsters! Not so much a Islay turned up to 11, but more a Islay with hearing protection.
Overall, a great selection of drams. Returning to the Lord Elcho after the second or third dram really revealed it’s youth as it didn’t stand up to the complexities of these – but that’s not what this drink is there for. It’s a dram to start the evening; to sit in the garden with on a warm spring afternoon like we had today. In second, my preference was to the Mortlach – it was great to have something light and floral, but still with some ‘kick’. The Campbeltown would follow next, followed closely by the Peat Chimney. Money no object, the Campbeltown, may hit first, but at four times the price of the Lord Elcho, I know which one I’ll be getting from this selection.