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 a 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 Smooth Gentleman, which is a blend of 16 malts, the largest proportion is from Speysider distillery Aultmore. Aultmore’s production primarily goes into the Dewars blends, but alone it is light, sweet, fruity, and floral.
Nose: Light Banana, marshmallow cream. Mildly malty, with elements of sugar cookie dough and vanilla ice cream.
Palate: Nice mild oak. Smooth on the tongue, as promised. A wave of unexpected tropical fruits: Kiwi? Blueberry?
Finish: Unfortunately short, with simple echoes of malt and brown sugar, but not much else.
Overall: Like a lowlander with an extra bit of sweet malt/brown sugar. Not much to recommend, although super easy to drink, and smooth as advertised.
Note: Yes, I recycled the blurb at the top from the Spice King review. Alas, there isn’t much to say about these, except that they’re very good values and quite drinkable. Similar review of The Peat Chimney coming up soon.