Formerly known as “vatted malts”, “blended malts” are in vogue now, largely due to the efforts of Compass Box’s John Glaser. He certainly didn’t invent the category,(Johnnie Walker has had several blended malts in its portfolio – including Johnnie Walker Green Label – since the early 1990s, and other bottlers had been doing it before then) he just made it cool. To be a blended malt, a whisky must be comprised of single malts from more than one distillery, and no other additive (such as grain whisky). Wemyss Malts, pronounced “Weams” – yeah, I thought it was “We Miss” too – has a line of romantically-named blended malts in ages 5, 8, and 12 years old. Each includes a ‘key ingredient’ to define its character and justify its name, as well as up to 16 other malts. I tried The Spice King (spices courtesy of a heavy dose of Talisker), The Smooth Gentleman (key ingredient: Aultmore), and The Peat Chimney (with Caol Ila) at tonight’s K&L Wednesday spirits tasting in Redwood City, CA.
The cool thing about these products (at least the 8 year-old variety) is that they’re all uniformly priced at $40. This kind of deal isn’t particularly common in today’s malt marketplace, and a carefully blended all-malt offering at minimum 8 years… that has a nice ring to it. If you like heavy peat, though, I suggest looking at Laphroaig 10 or Finlaggan for your value, as The Peat Chimney (review upcoming) is light on Islay style. Below, I give you my notes on The Spice King 8 year old, my favorite of the three.
Nose: Talisker salt/brine, but in a minor way. Hint of banana? Not a big Talisker nose, but some seaweed & seaspray. Shy – could use awhile in the glass to open up.
Palate: Good medium body. Brown sugar up front, then some VERY nice cinnamon, nutmeg, and salted caramels. Yum.
Finish: Medium-long. Some peat, more sea-salt. Fading black pepper. There’s the Talisker.
Overall: Very nice. I would buy this at $40, despite the shy nose. I just wish they bottled at 43% or 46% ABV, as I’m missing the customary Talisker kick.