Thursday, 15 November 2012

Wemyss Malts Tweet Tasting

The Whisky Wire's first Tweet Tasting of November and a new Whisky Discovery for me. Wemyss Malts is an independent bottler owned by the Wemyss family from Scotland, whose family seat is Wemyss Castle in Fife where they've lived since the 1300s.

It's easier to say than read! You pronounce it 'weems' and is the Scots words for caves - as in the caves that pepper the rocky shore of Fife where Wemyss Castle looks out to sea. The family have a long-standing passion for malt whisky and their connection with the industry dates back to the turn of the 19th century when John Haig (founder of Haig's Whisky) built his first distillery on Wemyss land.

As well as this they also have someone with unsurpassed knowledge and expertise on their side, Charlie MacLean, the Scottish authority on malt whisky and star of the 2012 movie 'The Angels Share'.

We were each sent four expressions to sample in this first Wemyss Malts Tweet Tasting, two of their highly acclaimed blended whiskies and two of their 2012 release single casks whiskies.

With preparations in place we kicked off our evenings education at 1900 with The Whisky Wire's Steve Rush and Karen from Wemyss Malts hosting proceedings, all tweets contained the hashtag #WEMYSSTT

Wemyss Malts
Almost Dram o'clock and ready to rock 'n' roll!

Whisky Discovery #235

The Hive 12 Year Old (40% abv)
Blended Malt Whisky
Circa £35.00 70cl
Wemyss Malts
The 12 Year Old Blended Malt 'The Hive' from Wemyss Malts
For our first dram of the evening we started with The Hive. This is a blend of malt whiskies, with an emphasis on 12 Year Old Speyside malts from both fresh and refill Sherry casks.

Official Tasting Notes
The colour is rich and bronze, which hints at the sherry cask maturation. Nosing reveals sweetness and a hint of spice; reminiscent of fresh honey, toffee apples and cinnamon sticks.  The rich, honeyed sweetness continues onto the palate; dominating over aromas of dessert spice and candied fruits.  The lengthy finish is smooth and sweetly satisfying.

Julie told us that 16 different single malts going into the blend of The Hive, and all of them would need to be older than 12 years old

So What did I think?

After swirling my glass to coat the inside of it I had long thing legs running quite quickly down the glass leaving oily like beads around the top of it.

The nose was a little shy at first and needed to be teased out, but once it comes it is immediately sweet and spicy. The sweetness coming from heather honey, but there's a fruity element too, rosy red apples and soft pears, then there's a yeasty, malty flavour; fresh pastry dough and yeasty bread mix as well as malted milk biscuits.

On the palate it was light and fruity, pears being the more prominent fruit now, but jelly beans too! There's a little pepper spice which is softened by the honeycomb sweetness. As it fades there is a dry nuttiness to it. With a drop of water it is much creamier and the vanilla notes come to the forefront.

The finish is a balance of sweetness, a light saltiness and a citrus tartness  at the back of the tongue making the mouth water, very satisfying. A great start to our evening with Wemyss Malts.

Some of my favourite tweets for The Hive 12 Year Old

@TIA568B Honeyed fruit, soft creamy vanilla fudge, maybe a little floral and grassy?
@julie_gwc  Honeycomb for me on the nose - does what it says on the label!!
@steveprentice A rich, sweet, slightly nutty nose. Something seems very familiar about this one, but can't put my finger on it...
@rickfurzer The Hive - spices first, then a wave of honeyed barley & the Sherry then starts to come through - rum & raisin?
@the_josephellis Quite an oily palate, getting lovely sherried fruits now and picking up those pears soaked in honey
@galg Palate: very creamy. lots of fruit, caramel candy, some sherry, dark chocolate, nuts
@whiskyrepublic It just nestles into your mouth, nothing in your face about this dram, certainly not taking my tongue hostage.
@champdenwhite Fabulously smooth and honied on the palate, then a kick of spice with edges of vanilla and even a touch of caramel.
@KirstyChant Now getting salted caramel/toffee on the palate and that pepper is kicking in but it's not too much. Quite fruity on the finish

Whisky Discovery #236

Lord Elcho 15 Year Old (40% abv, Bottled August 2012)
Blended Scotch Whisky
Circa £50.00 70cl
Wemyss Malts
The new Premium Blended Scotch Whisky, 'Lord Elcho' from Wemyss Malts
From The Hive 12 Year Old we moved on to the recently released 'Lord Elcho'. A premium blended Scotch whisky, which is named after one of the Wemyss ancestors Lord Elcho (1721–1787) was the eldest son of the 5th  Earl of Wemyss and was a commander in Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army until his defeat at the Battle of Culloden

Official Tasting Notes
Colour: Rich and golden with copper tones
Nose: Rich and warming with subtle hints of sweet spice and sandalwood coming through.
Palate: Mouthcoating, robust and smooth, imbued with luscious spiced fruit and cloves.
Finish: Long, lingering and uncompromisingly luxurious.

So What did I think?

In the nosing glass this had thicker legs than The Hive, they were much slower moving too, and there was an even coating of the glass with no droplets forming.

This had a much richer nose, with a fudge like toffee sweetness, spiced rum, sherried fruit cake, vanilla ice cream, tobacco and chocolate notes. Spices came with sandalwood and liquorice and there was a richness of polished wood and old worn leather.

Rich and creamy mouth feel, luxurious even. With sweet plump grains and toffee fudge, spicy pepper which quickly fades leaving a dark chocolate note.

Much spicier finish than The Hive and with espresso coffee and hazelnuts. This is a really nice quality blend which I would love to have on my shelf. Dear Santa, I have been a very good boy this year.........

Some of my favourite tweets for Lord Elcho 15 Year Old

@the_josephellis Nose, battenberg soaked in spiced rum
@champdenwhite Nose stewed apples, and a touch of marzipan, the marzipan then becoming amaretto biscuits. Some ceder then bit of spice
@AWReviews Nose - Peanut brittle, salted caramel, maybe star enise or clove? slightest touch of wood, balsa wood maybe
@LRWhisky We're getting chocolate fudge and raisins, followed by a little liquorice and vanilla.
@rodbodtoo Nose is soft, with a bit of everything - malt, dried fruit, fudge, a wee echo of smoky salt
@TheWhiskyWire Oven baked bramley apples & grilled peaches, dusted with crushed pink peppercorns
@whiskyrepublic I'm getting a citrus "shimmy", sweet warm dry tobacco wafts, & flirty sherry notes
@julie_gwc Elcho is like stollen cake - marzipan and dried fruits - yum! Bit of caramel cake too
@DramStats Nose: closed. Furiously warming the glass! Opens up to reveal rich raspberry ripple ice cream with raspberry sauce
@galg taking a sip from this lovely Elcho nectar ; sherry galore, creamy, fudgy, chocolaty, cocoa  wood, fortified wine

Palate: Sweet , creamy vanilla, and raspberry sauce (raspberry ripple ice cream) Black Cherry, dark chocolate, Szechuan pepper
Wemyss Malts

Whisky Discovery #237

'White Chocolate Torte' (46% abv D.1988 B.2012)
Single Cask Speyside Malt Whisky
Circa £84.00 70cl
Wemyss Malts
White Chocolate Torte - a 24 Year Old from Tormore Distillery
Our next dram “White Chocolate Torte” is one of this years' five single cask releases from Wemyss. This is a 24 year old from the Speyside distillery, Tormore. Distilled in 1988 and laid to mature in ex-Bourbon barrel which produced 251 bottles at 46% when bottled earlier this year.

Official Tasting Notes
Colour: Golden Honeycomb
Nose: Creamy white chocolate truffles, watch your calories with this one! Presence of delicate fruity notes such as glacé cherries, lychees and Seville orange marmalade (with orange peel)
Palate: Instantly warning in the mouth, chocolate note still evident but now as dark chocolate and bitter orange. Fresher than expected from the nose, lingering on the tip of your tongue. The addition of water harnesses the fresh notes and brings a slight sweetness (can we detect dessicated coconut?) which makes this dram truly irresistible.
Finish: Delicate with hints of citrus freshness

So What did I think?

Thick slow legs in my nosing glass and a very even coating of the glass. Wow! Another nose I have been surprised at - I was a little cynical when I rad the label and official tasting notes, white chocolate? from a single ex-bourbon cask? How is this even possible? The nose on this is just like a white Magnum ice cream! There is the 'Milky Bar' white chocolate notes clearly evident. There's a light fruity note of light oranges, satsuma-ish, rich spicy oak notes before the creamy bourbon cask vanilla kicks in.

A lovely sweet and creamy mouth feel with bags of vanilla and white chocolate, the posh ones that seem to come out at Christmas (I'm not a big chocolate lover ordinarily and rarely buy any). The spicy oak slowly building into a crescendo before gently fading back allowing the creamy vanilla and white chocolate to return.

The finish was a great balance of sweetness and saltiness with some citrus freshness. This appeared to be the favourite of the evening for many, and surprisingly for a couple of 'peat heads' (me included too). I'm probably be too late to snap one of these 251 bottles up unless I have a bonus payout or a lottery win this week!

Some of my favourite tweets for 'White Chocolate Torte'

@dvdbloke Hold on. can't talk. minigasm over this nose!!
@AWReviews Massive wave of raspberry ripple ice cream, intense vanilla, icing sugar, glace cherry and apple crumble
@TIA568B Nose: Wow... Just wow, spot on with the name, I was a bit cynical, but yeah, white chocolate, milkybar, lovely!
@julie_gwc White Chocolate Torte - bashed up hazelnuts and almonds with a bit of citrus and wood!
@champdenwhite After that blast of white choc, there are lots of crystallised fruits, then fresh oranges.
@whiskyrepublic Those legs are walking down the side of my glass! Rich, pungent nose, dense fruit flavours, chocolate melted over marshmallow.
@dvdbloke Nose - don't know where to start, rich white choc, all things fattening and sumptuous.
@LRWhisky Summers ice cream by the beach (with a white 99) - what a palate
@the_josephellis A luxurious bittersweet mouth coating dram. Spicy oranges hit the back of my mouth but the front is all creamy and sweet!
@TIA568B Apricot and peaches, kiwi fruits in pavlova, more of that white magnum taste, a digestive biscuit cake base, love it
@whiskyrepublic This is a "comfort blanket" of a dram. Wrap it round yourself & sit in front of the fire! A definite favourite.

Whisky Discovery #238
'Beach Bonfires' (46% abv D.1998, B.2012)
Single Cask Islay Malt Whisky
Circa £75.00 70cl
Wemyss Malts
Beach Bonfires - a 14 Year Old from Laphroaig Distillery
Our final dram of the evening was a second expression from the latest Single Cask release, this one being from Islay's Laphroiag Distillery. Distilled in 1998, matured in an ex-Bourbon hogshead yielding 357 bottles at 46% when bottled earlier this year.

Official Tasting Notes
Colour: Chenin Blanc
Nose: A good honest, reliable instant nose of minerals and earthy smoke. Reminding us ofthe location of this distillery there are huge notes of salty coastal, wet fishing net and tarred ropes. The slat note of a newly opened bag of nuts. Sweet BBQ sauce, coal and beach bonfires.
Palate: IFull bodied. This whisky is loaded with toasted cereal and dark stout malt. The lively smoke smoulders in your face at a beach bonfire. It fells like walking in to a smokehouse, intense smoke covering your eyes.
Finish: Sweet, sweet smoke, lasting a lot longer than a finish expected of a 14 year old whisky.

So What did I think?

Thick slow legs again, and a good even coating  which eventually leaves some oily droplets around the top of the glass.

The nose on this is just as the label tells us, and after the last whisky, I was ready for it too. Beach bonfires, salty driftwood freshly washed up on the high tide line and still covered in damp seaweed, charcoal from last nights BBQ, damp tarred hemp ropes, memories of rock pooling in Cornwall with the kids when they were younger. Salty beach pebbles drying in the sun, the smell of the cinder tray when cleaning the fireplace out in the morning after a wood fire, and ah! Those Laphroaig medicinal notes....

On the palate it was peaty but sweet, malty notes of a fresh granery loaf, peppery spice and chili heat, the beach bonfire charcoal was back and finishing with salty brine, coffee grounds and gentle smoke. It's truly mouthwatering.

I was sure this was going to be my favourite of the evening. The first whisky I ever bought was Laphroaig 10 Year Old, but the previous white chocolate surprised me and just pipped this overall on the evening, but then you never forget your first love ;)

Some of my favourite tweets for Beach Bonfires:

@LRWhisky Beach Bonfires This is my whisky. Memories of the beach at Port Ellen, of sunshine on Islay and of fine beachside whisky
@champdenwhite Lovely earthy nose with big dollops of smoke. wet seaside rocks.
@dvdbloke I'm getting that bacon fat roasting on a beach thing going on! crispy
@KirstyChant Reminds me of being down at the harbour waiting for my uncles' boats to come in.
@AWReviews Lovely salty driftwood, damp pebbles and oodles of lovely cinder ash smoke with nutella spread and malt
@TIA568B Seaweed and smoke, not overly strong though, smoky baccon pringles, still quite sweet, but that iodine's creeping in.
@DramStats TCP, Sticking plasters, Very coastal and salty. Lobster traps, Crabs (the crustaceans), sweet BBQ sauce, fennel, seaweed rocks
@rickfurzer Scallop shells n seaweed - with iodine coming through like a cut mouth. Then salinity comes through and makes your mouth water
@whiskyrepublic A dram that embraces, surely a challenge to those averse to Islay's charms. Seductive, mellowing, softening, with more air,
‏@TIA568B Nutty and woody, dry, salty, burning kelp - lovely!

As per previous Tweet Tastings there was a great deal of tweeting going on and to see what happened search on the #WEMYSSTT hashtag on twitter for the full story!
Yet another great experience and another highlight of my whisky journey, registering a fabulous four new ‘discoveries’ A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire and to Karen from @WemyssMalts

This events tweet tasters were: 
@TheWhiskyWire @WemyssMalts @WhiskyRepublic @EdinburghWhisky @KirstyChant @champdenwhite @Whisky_Demon @rickfurzer @WhiskyDiscovery @LRWhisky @dvdbloke @TIA568B @DramStats @mohler @AWReviews @julie_gwc @rodbodtoo @PMaitlando @the_josephellis @galg @steveprentice

If you want to be included in the next Tweet Tasting make sure you are following @TheWhiskyWire on Twitter to find out what is happening.

For more information see: and for information about Wemyss Malts see

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