Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Four Single Cask releases from Wemyss Malts

I tasted these four single cask releases from Wemyss Malts during the height of our summer, enjoying the whisky while sitting out in the sunshine, jotting my notes down (the old way, in books) but with everything going on around me at the time never sat down and got them into the blog posts I was originally planning.

Ordinarily these would have each had their own separate post, buts seeing as I'm so far behind, and I tasted these all concurrently, thought they would all work well together in this single post.

Wemyss Malts is a boutique producer of fine malt whiskies named after the family of the same name (ponounced 'Weems'). While they have a core range of award winning blended malts they release a series of single casks roughly every quarter. 

Being single cask releases the number of bottles available from each release vary from cask size and age, and due to the wide distribution across the globe, it's not always possible to get hold of a bottle of one that takes your fancy. There's normally no time to think when you find a single cask release for sale, as before you've made up your mind it's usually sold out.

I have been fortunate in that occasionally pre-release samples are sent to me for review, and these four were just that. With a worldwide customer base and limited bottles available these sell out rather quickly, some have even sold out as the samples are on their way to me!

Whisky Discovery #488

Linkwood 2000 'Summer Orchard' (46% abv, 2012)
Speyside single malt Whisky
Circa £58.00 70cl
Wemyss Malts
This was one of the four casks released in January of this year. Summer Orchard is from the Linkwood Distillery, a Speyside distillery is located just outside Elgin, owned by Diageo. Whisky from the Linkwood distillery are generally found in blended Scotch, being a major component of Johnnie Walker and White Horse. Distillery bottlings are not ordinarily available, although Diageo occasionally release limited editions

This 'Summer Orchard' release was my first Linkwood according to my Liquid Log. It was distilled in 2000 and matured in a sherry butt, and when bottled at 46% abv yielded 762 bottles.

So What did I Think?
As usual from Wemyss Malts the name of this single cask release fits the nose profile the instant you pop your nose over the Glencairn. Rosy apples come across strongly at first, but leave it for a little while to breath and soft vanilla sweetness comes through, with hints of dried apricot. There's a light dry woody note to this too

This comes across as very fresh, young and lively on the palate, a fresh sweetness initially but this quickly builds with peppery spices, almost rye-spice like which fades to a nutty creamy sweetness with just a hint of coconut at the end.

Whisky Discovery #489

Clynelish 1997 'Spiced Chocolate Cup' (46% abv, 2013)
Highland Single Malt
Circa £72.00 70 cl
Wemyss Malts
It was a Clynelish that was the 'acorn' dram, a seed planted way before I'd considered starting my whisky journey, so I've always have a soft spot for Clynelish. 1997 was also a significant year for me too, as my youngest was born during the middle of making plans to up-sticks and move to the UK. Clynelish is another Diageo owned distillery situated in the Northern Highlands in the town of Brora. Two standard expressions are ordinarily available; The 14 Year Old and Distillers Edition, which has been finished in Oloroso casks.

Spice Chocolate Cup was one of the six releases from July 2013. It was distilled in 1997, matured in a hogshead, and when bottled at 46% abv yielded 302 bottles

So what did I Think?
The nose is rich and malty with an aroma that reminded me of fairground Toffee Apples. True to form I started to find the chocolate notes I was expecting, perhaps I should cover the labels next time to see if I could guess what the release would be called form my notes! Sweet honey notes follow, with pencil shavings bringing the woody notes while, nutmeg is the underlying spice.

The mouth feel is rich and spicy and immediately gives the impression of an aged malt with hints of well polished wood and old leather armchairs. The rich sweetness of stewed fruits, while the spices are gentle, remaining on the fairly short malty finish.

Whisky Discovery #490

Glen Scotia 1991 'Salted Caramels' (46% abv, 2013)
Campbeltown Single Malt

Circa £TBC 70 cl

Wemyss Malts
The Glen Scotia distillery is owned by the Loch Lomond Distillery Company and is one of three Cambeltown Distilleries. After a turbulent few years last year the brand was revamped and five core expressions were released, with brightly coloured livery by way of shrink-wrapped bottles. This was another very new discovery and my first Glen Scotia.

Salted Caramels was was another one of the six releases from July 2013. It was distilled in 1991, another significant year in my life, being the year I left the UK and headed off to the Far East for seven years. This whisky was matured in a ex-bourbon barrel, and when bottled at 46% abv yielded just 279 bottles

So what did I Think?
Is it really worth me saying that this really does have an instant hit of salted caramels to it when first poured? After being matured for at least 21 years, this needs some time in the glass to develop and show off it's real character. A dirty maritime oily smoke, reminding me of an old steam launch I once went on, hot lube oil, steam, coal dust and sooty smoke, I love this! All the while there is a delicate sweet perfume trying to push through the coal dust notes.

This feels much stronger than the 46% abv sated in the label. Opening with a soft sweetness the wood spice builds quickly with rich malty notes on the palate. The smoke is much softer than the palate was suggesting, drifting peat smoke and cinnamon flavours giving this a savoury taste helped by a pinch of sea salt.

Whisky Discovery #492

Caol Ila 1980 'The Smokery' (46% abv, bottled 2013)
Islay Single Malt
Circa £TBA 70 cl
Wemyss Malts
Another 'favoured' distillery, as it was a Caol Ila that set me off on my Whisky Journey leading me to go out and purchase my first bottle of whisky. Caol Ila, one of the eight distilleries on the Isle of Isla is and owned by Diageo, the core expression being their 12 Year Old, one I really must revisit soon.

The Smokery was another one of the six releases from July 2013. It was distilled in 1980, matured in a hogshead, and when bottled at 46% abv yielded 322 bottles - none of which I've been able to find!

So what did I Think?
I love the charcoal and ash notes from this, perhaps I'm a little 'doe-eyed 'when a Caol Ila is presented to me, but this nose is just heavenly for me. Underneath the smoky flavours you can pick out softer fruit and floral notes too, but for me this is all about the smoked peppered mackerel.

This is more sweeter than the nose would suggest with spiced fruit notes; cinnamon and cloves with cooking apples and poached pears at first, while charcoal and ash flavours develop with an earthy mustiness, finishing with ginger spices and a fragrant pipe tobacco note

Four superb single cask bottlings from Wemyss Malts and my favourites were the Glen Scotia and The Caol Ila. I'm not sure of the price point for either of these but a 32/33 Caol Ila wouldn't come cheap, but these two proved impossible for me to find on-line anywhere. What I also love about these single cask releases is the labels - if I'm careful I can peel the label clean off the bottle and past them in my note book - sad I know, but they look great!

Many thanks for Wemyss Malts for sending these to me and for more information check out their website and you can follow @WemyssMalts on Twitter too! Look out for their next round of single cask releases which should be out any day soon now seeing as the last release was in July.

Slàinte! Dave

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