Wemyss Blended Malt Scotch Whisky is now being sold in the U.S. and after I met with their marketing team, I wanted to share with you what to expect as you see it in the market. I am going to talk specifically about the Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, although they do have other product lines. This is a whisky blog, so I won’t be talking about the gin right now, but I heard their gin is excellent! The reason the Wemyss Malt Blend is the focus, is because I think this is where Wemyss product could really take off in North America. I first tried Wemyss blends when I visited Kingsbarns Distillery in Fife, Scotland. As you may know if you read my Kingsbarns article, Wemyss purchased the distillery in 2014. They are currently aging the new make spirit and that will be sold in the States as well once matured.
A bit of a background on Wemyss, pronounced (Weems). Their offices are based in Edinburgh, Scotland. The family is involved in many business ventures including wine, tea and property investment. It only seems applicable that they are also well known in the whisky industry and continuing to build a name for themselves. They work with Charlie Maclean, who some of you may have seen on YouTube Videos for tasting notes of almost every scotch whisky known to man. He works with them on their blended malts as the nose and blender. Let me throw out three definitions here as well. They do not make blended scotch whisky, they bottle blended malt scotch. See the definitions explained below from the Scotch Whisky Association:
Blended Scotch Whisky - for example Chivas Regal, Johnnie Walker Red Label etc.
A blend of one or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies with one or more Single Grain Scotch Whiskies.
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
A blend of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, which have been distilled at more than one distillery.
*this is what Wemyss blends are.
Single Malt Scotch Whisky – for example Glenlivet 12, Glenfiddich 12 etc.
A Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery (i) from water and malted barley without the addition of any other cereals, and (ii) by batch distillation in pot stills. From 23 November 2012, Single Malt Scotch Whisky must be bottled in Scotland.
Understanding these definitions is very critical. Critical in how Wemyss sells, markets and prices their product, especially when it comes to how Palm Bay International, their distribution partner in the U.S., will be marketing and pushing the Wemyss brands. Education will be key here, because this is a premium product. Being categorized with blended scotch whisky (multiple grains) would put them in a different category and one they necessarily aren't priced to be in. When you go to the Palm Bay International website, you will see they are showing age statements on all of their blended malts. That will be changing going forward and non-age statements will now be in distribution. The non-age statement bottlings are the tasting notes I will list below. Here are Wemyss core product groups.
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky: Non-age statements going forward.
- The Hive
- Spice King
- Peat Chimney
- Kiln Embers (Limited edition for this year)
Other Whisky Blends
- Lord Elcho
- Lord Elcho 15
Single Casks- Presented Regionally
- Darnley’s View Gin
- Darnley’s View Spiced Gin
- Kingsbarns New Make Spirit
Once a year they will release a 4th bottling special edition to the core blended malts listed above. This year it is called “Kiln Embers”. Last year it was called Velvet Fig and it was a blended malt finished in sherry casks. You can find retail locations in the U.S. to buy these bottlings on Palm Bay’s Website. Just from a quick search there are a handful of locations in New York and New Jersey. I know they are still working on breaking into a few states with different liquor laws. I recommend checking them out. Not only is the product supreme, but I find their labeling and marketing very refreshing. I am hoping my fellow American readers will agree. It is a clean, straight to the point label with easy to classify color schemes and it isn’t too busy. My favorite of the three core products would definitely be Spice King. You should also be keeping an eye on Wemyss new venture: Kingsbarns. The new make spirit here was delicious, which can only mean with a few years of aging this will be another lovely dram. Palm Bay will be distributing this in the states as well when it is ready.
*Signature Malt means the malt(s) that were chosen to push the flavor pallet in a certain direction.
The Hive Non-Age Statement - Signature Malt- Speyside
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Honey, apples, almost like a sugary cereal.
Pallet: Honey, citrus, creamy malt with a very light fire smoke finish at the end.
Spice King Non-Age Statement – Signature Malt- Highlands and Islands
Holly’s Tasting Notes..
Nose: Plums, figs, caramel, fruity peat, salty caramel.
Pallet: Orange, slight peat, mild smoked wood and pepper finish.
This has a lot going on in the pallet. This will need a few sips to get your full tasting note!
Peat Chimney Non-Age Statement- Signature Malt- Islay
Holly’s Tasting Notes..
Nose: Tangerine, leather, peat smoke and slight soot smell.
Pallet: Longer dry smoke- the smoke and peat hangs out for a while, old tangerines, sea salt finish.
This is a very well rounded peaty scotch. Would be great for people liking peat, but not quite to a Lagavulin yet.
Check out Charlie Maclean’s review of Wemyss Malts that he helped to create!