On Wednesday, the 9th of November, I was invited to take part in a Wemyss Malts Tweet Tasting, hosted by Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire. If you have never heard of a tweet tasting before then it is exactly as it sounds, you get sent out samples then at a certain time on a certain date you savour the delicious drams and tweet live your thoughts with others who are partaking. On the night in question I was also joined by Richard from the Edradynate whisky club, a repayment if you will as he and Hugh let me join them on a previous tasting which they had been selected for, as well as him being a fine chap indeed.
On the night we were given the opportunity to try three of Wemyss’ new Batch Strength blended malt bottlings, all ranging between 54.5% and 57%ABV, as well as a premixed Rob Roy cocktail. The blended malts that we would be sampling were all launched just last month and are all limited edition, to just 6000 bottles of each. Each of these blends will use signature malts, from all across Scotland, which are used to define their main flavour’s and aromas, which lead to the names they are given i.e. Hive, Peat Chimney.
The Blended malts that we were given to sample were as follows:
Wemyss Malts The Hive (54.5%ABV)
Wemyss Malts Spice King (56%ABV)
Wemyss Malts The Peat Chimney (57%ABV)
All of which were proudly labelled as Unchillfiltered and natural colour, absolutely smashing!
I was getting rather nervous as the tasting approached and my samples still hadn’t arrived in the mail, I think a lot of people were in the same boat here, bloody couriers. Then, finally, about 5 hours before the tasting was meant to begin there was a knock on the door. Low and behold it was my samples, the relief and excitement was amazing. A sleek brown cardboard box with a trio of blended malt delights and an intriguing cocktail, and not a moment too soon!
As 7pm arrived, samples ready to be cracked open, it was time to get stuck into some whisky! So here is how the night went, and my thoughts on each blend.
The Hive Batch Strength:
It becomes apparent straight away as to why they have called this one hive, immediately on the nose you are met with a rich and earthy Manuka honey and loads of waxiness. The hive has an almost savoury nose; there is sweet beeswax candles, fatty smelling almond butter and savoury rice cakes. With time more sweetness comes through with salted caramel, mixed peel and a light suggestion of marmalade and suet dumplings.
The palate is just totally different from the nose. There is so much more richness and spice pushing its way through, backed up by a good dose of alcohol. The hive is very lively on the palate with nags of woody spice, especially nutmeg, milk chocolate and a touch of salt.
Spice King Batch Strength:
For me the nose had a lot of similarities to the Hive, that fatty, waxy aroma was still present, again with honey, a touch of peat smoke and a bit spicier too. Both of these first two drams had a lot of similarities and put me very much in mind of Clynelish. The nose is quite maritime with sea spray, spice, caramel, burning heather and digestive biscuits. It’s very exciting!
The Spice King is very big on the palate; the smoke that was really soft on the nose is much more prominent now. Vegetal/earthy peat, white chocolate and bitter lemon rind, with time and a dash of water more fruitiness and nuttiness comes through with sultanas and diced walnuts.
Peat Chimney Batch Strength:
As the name may suggest, yes, this is peaty, but its not overly smoky smelling. It smells of damp, vegetal, smouldering peat, damp grass and like the others quite coastal and mineral rich too. After smoke time in the glass it becomes a bit meatier too with smoked gammon/pork crackling.
The palate is hugely drying and also a bit fizzy; there is a big blast of smoke, like burning leaves, and heaps of chilli too. The meatiness from the nose also comes through on the palate but to me I was more like meat flavouring, it reminded me a lot of McCoy’s flame grilled steak crisps – if you have never had them then get them tried! – it’s a very odd tasting note I know. And a bit of icing sugar dusted over the top too to tame the smoke.
This was a very divisive part of the evening, the whisky ‘purists’ were somewhat offended but as always with whisky drink it how you like it, be that neat, with water, ice or even in a fantastic cocktail such as this. I am quite a fan of a good Rob Roy and so I was looking forward to this. It wasn’t like a Rob Roy that I had ever had before, firstly because it was made using peated whisky, their Peat Chimney, and also had sherry and cherry bitters in it!
The recipe was as follows:
50ml Wemyss Malts Peat Chimney – Batch Strength
30ml Sweet Vermouth
10ml PX Sherry
10ml Demerara Syrup
Dash of Cherry Bitters
I would definitely recommend trying this cocktail, or others, as cocktails are a great way to enjoy whisky, and can bring a whole new dimension to what is a great spirit.
And with that, the night was over, the highlight for me was definitely the Spice King and everything else a very close second. Thank you so much to Wemyss Malts for providing the drams for the night and to Steve Rush at The Whisky Wire for hosting. Also to Richard for his company and for drinking half my samples…