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The Wemyss family have been loosely involved with the scotch whisky industry ever since they allowed John Haig to build a distillery on their land back in 1824. Over the decades that followed, this connection was maintained through the supply of barley, grown on the family estate, to local distillers. In recent times however, Wemyss’ involvement with the national spirit has become somewhat more direct.
William Wemyss spent many years in the wine trade, producing in both Australia and Provence, but a life long interest in scotch whisky led him to create a new branch of the family business that would focus on bottling spirit sourced from distilleries around Scotland.
Wemyss Malts launched in 2005 with the release of ‘Spice King’ and ‘Peat Chimney’, a pair of blended malts named for their distinctive flavour profiles. A third offering known as The Hive completed the range in 2011, though the series has continued to develop with 12 year old and Batch Strength versions now available.
Away from blended malts, Wemyss bottle an ongoing line of single cask, single malt scotch whisky, from a multitude of different distilleries and, with their investment in the Kingsbarns project, they have even begun the transition to distillers in their own right.
As standard, Wemyss bottle their blended malts at 46% abv. Each expression is generally available in the UK for around £40.
*My thanks to Wemyss Malts for sending me these samples to review and share with the readers of WhiskyReviews.net…
The most recent addition to the range, The Hive is blended from a selection of malt whiskies, sourced primarily from the Speyside area.
Smell: Honey, Honeycomb, Heather, Strawberries & Cream, Vanilla, Biscuit & Lemon.
Taste: Honey & Caramel, Cinnamon Spice, Vanilla, Pepper, light Citrus Orange and the faintest hint of Smoke.
Value for Money: Blended malts offer some of the best value on the market although there are still those who shun the ‘B’ word. Make no mistake however, this is 100% malt whisky and it can stand shoulder to shoulder with many single malts.
Score: 43.5 / 50.
A pleasantly sweet & soothing dram that more than lives up to its name.
The brand that helped to launch the company, Spice King is an intriguing dram, sourced largely from single malt whiskies distilled in the Scottish islands.
Nose: Honey & Cream, Caramel, Lemon, Paprika and All Spice.
Taste: An intense mouthful of flavour. Caramel, Vanilla, Pepper and Barbecue Spice notes, with Paprika and Chinese Spices.
Value for Money: There can be no complaints. £40 for such character and boldness of flavour is an absolute bargain.
Score: 44 / 50.
Quite simply a fantastic dram, with a rather unique identity. Wonderful.
As the name would suggest, ‘Peat Chimney’ takes us in a rather smokier direction with many of the contributing malts sourced from the Isle of Islay.
Smell: Vanilla Cream, Sea Breeze, White Pepper, Apple, Fudge, Smoke and Ash.
Taste: Vanilla and Citrus Orange, Fudge, Caramel, Sea Salt, Pepper and wafts of Peat Smoke.
Value for Money: Once again, the quality of the product makes the price point most agreeable.
Scores: 43 / 50.
Another fine dram, though while Peat Chimney is by no means inferior, I can’t help but see it as a little less unique than its two siblings. Any fan of the smokey side of scotch will not be disappointed however and, like so many blended malts on the market today, it offers a great deal of character, and indeed quality, for a very affordable price.