Wemyss Tweet Tasting #4

Wemyss have really impressed me over the past 12 months. At last year’s TWE Whisky Show, their single cask bottling of Caol Ila was sublime – far better than any other bottling I tried.

Up here in this tasting is their range of delicious blended malts, showcasing particularly the brand new release: Kiln Embers.

Let’s get started!

The Hive

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 19.03.55Bottler: Wemyss Malts
Age: NAS
ABV: 46%

Nose: Sweet straw, treacle, herbs, sea salt, boiled sweets

Palate: Lemon throat sweets leading to runny honey – like someone melted a Locket. Barley mixed with salt and pepper.

Body: Quite light and soft, drying at the end.

Finish: Long, oaky and lip smackingly sweet.

More coastal than expected! An easy sipping sweet dram with a good savoury side for balance.

Spice King

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 19.04.13Bottler: Wemyss Malts
Age:
NAS
ABV: 
46%

Nose: Nail polish, pear drops, dark sugar, ginger, sandy earth.

Palate: Cinnamon sticks, apple strüdel, golden syrup, chilli peppers

Body: Light and tangy.

Finish: Peppery with mixed nuts

Does what it says on the tin! Lots of barrel spice, like a very fragrant Bourbon.

Peat Chimney

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 19.04.26Bottler: Wemyss Malts
Age: NAS
ABV: 46%

Nose: Vacuum-packed ham, oatcakes, sea salt, sherbet.

Palate: Fruit and salty smoke. Pears, apples, lemons mixed with coastal spray and charcoal ash.

Body: Thick with beady legs.

Finish: Very oaky and dry with a sherbet tingle and chewy, nutty peat.

Very warming and comforting. Great meaty notes with coastal smoke. A beach BBQ dram. I feel like there’s Caol Ila in it.

Kiln Embers

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 19.04.38Bottler: Wemyss Malts
Age: NAS
ABV: 46%

Nose: Medicinal TCP and bandages. Burnt bacon. Sweet shop aromas of boiled sweets and sticky lollipops. After a while, a strong smell of sticky peanut butter.

Palate: Starts sweet and fragrant and builds to bonfire and gunpowder. Oranges, peaches and cream briefly before hot smoke and a deep, numbing chilli pepper burn.

Body: Viscous and mouthcoating.

Finish: When the fire calms down to embers, it leaves hot salted peanuts and peppery oak with buttery, burnt fried cabbage (nicer than it sounds!). Very long and moreish.

Reminds me very much of Big Peat. I think there’s some Ardbeg in this. Very nice stuff indeed. I think a bottle is in order for the Winter months.

Thanks to Steve Rush and the folks at Wemyss Malts for another great selection of whisky!

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Three Old Dusty Cadenhead Caol Ilas

Very much following in the footsteps of Ben Cops, here’s three old and delicious Caol Ila bottlings from WM Cadenhead.

I’ve been saving the 30 year old for my 30th birthday and now that the bottle’s open it’s time to revisit last year’s 29 year old and get stuck into a taster of this year’s 31 year old release (again, thank you to Mr Cops for this!).

All three are full term Bourbon cask matured and great examples of how lovely Caol Ila can be when well-aged.

Caol Ila 29

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 16.08.10Distillery: Caol Ila
Bottled: 2013, Distilled: 1984
ABV: 55.5%
Cask: Bourbon Hogshead
Bottler: WM Cadenhead
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Sweet smoke, cloudy apple juice, paprika, Easter Egg chocolate, damp wood, tangerine and fresh honeydew melon.

Palate: Very rich and oily. Bitter oranges, poached pears, more cloudy apple juice, with a gentle woody smoke rising through the fruit.

Finish: Becomes waxy and spicy, with a Brazil nut undertone. Extraordinarily long and satisfying. Like a deep-muscle massage for your mind. It unlocks something in the brain that leads to fits of grinning, like some kind of serene whisky Nirvana.

Verdict: I love this whisky so much. A really active cask (I think a first fill) has given this a lot of punchy flavour. The citrus smoke element of Caol Ila has moved from lemon notes in the younger bottlings to orange and melon flavours. Utterly glorious.

 

Caol Ila 30

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 16.08.24Distillery: Caol Ila
Bottled: 2014, Distilled: 1984
ABV: 56.2%
Cask: Bourbon Hogshead
Bottler: WM Cadenhead
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Fragrant lime skin, earthy moss, sawdust, wood lacquer, sherbet, vanilla, orange pith, candy brittle.

Palate: Gloriously sweet shopp-y. Salty toffee, liqourice torpedos and sour zingy sherbet with a whole lot of fruit on the side – melon rind, guava, strawberries and tangerines. After the fruit there’s drying sweet tobacco leaf and a little Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons.

Finish: Oak and black pepper with wafts of soft wood smoke and black tea. That Brazil nut taste is there again, too.

Verdict: Different to the 29. Still fruity and smoky but there’s none of that cloudy apple juice or pickle juice character. Still wonderfully balanced between the fruit and zesty smoke. Elegant, juicy, delicious.

 

Caol Ila 31

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 08.55.02Distillery: Caol Ila
Bottled: 2015, Distilled: 1984
ABV: 54.3%
Cask: Bourbon Hogshead
Bottler: WM Cadenhead
More Info: WhiskyBase

Nose: Spiced custard, wax crayons, marker pens, salty dust, marmalade, candied lemon and lime.

Palate: Zingy, sour and oaky with bitter pepper and more fresh citrus. Sherbet, chalky refresher sweets, green apples and redcurrants.

Finish: Mellows after the peppery bite of the palate leaving a long and lingering taste of ripe pears and smooth, buttery oak.

Verdict: I think this one’s got a lot more tanin from the wood but it settles down nicely to a lovely and unusual finish. The 29 and 30 had more going on in the middle but this is all about the long end.

Summary

Three fabulous whiskies here – really showing off both what Caol Ila can do over time, and what good cask selection you see from WM Cadenhead.

For me, the winner’s got to be the 29 – that juicy, punchy, fruity quality is rowdy compared to the more elegant dust of the 30 and 31 but it absolutely charms my palate.

The lesson? Taste old Caol Ila as often as you can – the chances are that you’ll be delighted.

Benromach 30

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 18.24.23Distillery: Benromach
Age: 30 years old
ABV: 43%
Cask: 1st Fill and Refill Sherry
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s one of my 30th birthday treats! I was lucky enough to win the bottle from Aston’s of Manchester. Time to crack it open…

Nose: Rich cereal tones, blended with honey and dark orange marmalade. Sweet ripe fruits – apples, blackberries, lychees. Big Red cinnamon chewing gum. Earthy, mossy and mineral-rich with a touch of coastal rocks. Good whiff of oak, too.

Palate: Thick and oily on the tongue. Rich and malty with tangy lime, grapefruit, and blood oranges. A soft touch of tart raspberry, too. More cinnamon and honey melding into dark, rich coffee and cocoa solids with a slab of marzipan.

Finish: Long and oaky with peppercorns and a savoury wisp of drying, gravelly smoke.

Mmmmm, thirty years well spent. Benromach core Speyside character shining through, with that lovely mix of sweet barley with a touch of savoury smoke.

This one’s readily available online for about £250-£300. Not cheap, but not horrendously expensive for a thirty year old single malt.