This week I’m taking a break from reviewing single malts and looking at a blended malt instead. Blended Malts, not to be confused with Blended Scotch, is a vatting of single malt casks produced at different distilleries.
Wemyss Malts was founded in 2005 by William Wemyss. William had previous experience in the wine industry but decided that indulging in the family passion for whisky would be the next logical step. The Wemyss family have long established links with the scotch industry – the legendary John Haig built his first distillery on Wemyss land. Many modern distillers use barley grown on the estate to produce their whisky and Cameron Bridge grain distillery is only six miles from the family home at Wemyss Castle.
The company adopted a somewhat unique approach to their releases, naming each whisky for it’s taste and aroma rather than distillery name. The core range of Blended Malts are Spice King, Peat Chimney and The Hive while they also release some excellent Single Cask bottlings and produce the Lord Elcho blend.
Seeking to cement their place in the whisky industry William Wemyss saw potential in the Kingsbarns Distillery project in Fife and invested more than £3 million in 2013 so that the company might own it’s own distillery. Kingsbarns Distillery is built within an 18th century farmstead near to the tourist centre of St Andrews and has been producing spirit as of February 2015. So no whisky to sample just yet, but hopefully we’ll see something from Kingsbarns in the next couple of years.
Fortunately though, we have the rest of the Wemyss range to sample in the meantime and I thought I’d use this review to talk about Kiln Embers. This was a limited edition Blended Malt released in 2015 to celebrate 10 years of Wemyss Malts and it apparenlty features twice the single malt content from Islay as their other peated release, Peat Chimney. It has been bottled at 46%, is non-chill filtered and comes in at a very reasonable £40 – £45.
The thought behind the name becomes clear when you nose it. Smoke and Ash leap out at you – like a damp, dying campfire. There’s also Honey, Orange and Lemon and Barley and Biscuit or even Pastry – reminded me a little of an Apple Pie. There’s a lovely silky texture on the palate with Orange and Caramel, lots of Pepper and that Smoke and Ash again with a strong hint of Liquorice.
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 18 / 20. Smokey but not over-poweringly so. There’s a strong Malty quality that shines through as well.
Taste: 18 / 20. Great mouthfeel and well balanced flavours. Again, the smoke is ever-present but doesn’t dominate.
Value for Money: 9.5 / 10. Goes for around £40 in the UK and given the quality it’s a great buy. As the price of some single malts get higher and we are asked to pay more for younger and younger whisky, blended malts like this one represent great value for money.
Overall: 45.5 / 50. Great stuff – assuming you like it smokey. If not, try some of the other releases from Wemyss, you won’t be disappointed.