Buy it on a Wemyss!
After going a bit heavy on American whiskey, I’m returning to Scotch to continue my exploration of Wemyss Malts. I previously discussed their Kingsbarns Distillery and assessed their Peat Chimney Batch Strength 2.
I am starting to notice that more and more consumers are being vocal about their dissatisfaction towards whisk(e)y’s rising prices. Yet, I’m baffled at how a lot of them stick to the brands they’re complaining about. Some admit it’s a force of habit. They don’t know other brands to go to. Some say they’re stuck with what’s available locally. They’re either unable to order online due to local law, or they’re not willing to pay for shipping and taxes for something they’re not familiar with.
My answer is: if Wemyss is available to you, try it. My experiences with them have only been good. Aside from being good, they’re also affordable; just check their prices from The Whisky Exchange. The regular expressions like The Hive, Peat Chimney, and Spice King are all bottled at 46%, NCF, are under £40. So far, none of their limited releases, like the Nectar Grove and batch strength expressions, go beyond £50!
Yes, these are blended malts. But what’s wrong with that? If the word “blend” makes you squeamish, let’s call it a “marriage” of single malts from various distilleries. I should note that they also have single cask expressions, but these have been much more elusive for me so I have no experience with them.
Compare Wemyss’ prices to the much popular but (in my opinion) declining Compass Box as well. Compass Box’s prices are higher by a bit. If you’ve had their basic expressions, it means you’re already open to blended malts, so it shouldn’t be that hard to try a different and independent brand.
Wemyss Malts was founded in 2005. It’s currently run by siblings William and Isabella Wemyss. The idea is said to have started after the family bought a wine vineyard in the Remeresk province of France. Blending wine inspired them to blend whisky. Their supervisor is none other than Charlie MacLean. In addition, their family name means “caves” in Scots. This is said to be due to there being plenty of caves behind and under the Wemyss Castle.
The blended malts I’ll be reviewing today are Wemyss’ The Hive and Nectar Grove. The Hive is a marriage of ten different single malts from Speyside. The Nectar Grove is Wemyss’ first finished blended malt, a marriage of different Highland single malts which were finished in ex-Madeira casks.
Speyside and Highland may be seen as different regions, but technically Speyside is part of the Highlands, so I see them as one. Following my Madeira article, I figure this is a good example of how a blended malt aged in ex-bourbon casks can be different from a blended malt finished in ex-Madeira casks.
You might notice that the images of the bottles on the website are different from the ones I took. This is due to Wemyss recently having gone through a rebranding. I think this happened late 2020 or early 2021; I’ve had these bottles since 2020 and earlier.
Wemyss Malts The Hive – Review
Color: White tea.
On the nose: Lots of orange-colored fruit aromas. From the start there are, unsurprisingly, strong aromas of honey. Underneath the honey are light scents of persimmons, oranges, kumquats and sour plums. After are subtle aromas of ginger, chamomile, lemon saccharum, cereals and vanilla. As this gets to oxidize more, the sour fruit notes start to become more pronounced after I get that huge whiff of honey.
In the mouth: Immediately sweet but dry, with long tastes of honey, cereals, and vanilla. A lingering pepperiness comes out. After that are subtle tastes of toffee, dried apricots, Fuji apples, caramel, sugar flakes, orange-flavored gummy bears, and orange-flavored cough syrup and ginger.
This is like breakfast in alcohol form. The very noticeable cereal and vanilla flavors remind me of the times when I’d have Snowflakes cereal for breakfast. But this is minus the tons of sugar the cereal brand has.
I’ll admit this lacks complexity, but it’s not lacking in flavor. There are no off notes like an astringent soapy taste that I’d find in the mass-produced blends, which is something you’re likely to get in overused casks and quickly diluted spirits. This is also lacking in wood flavors. To me, these are good signs as I can appreciate the blend more without the blender using oak influence as a shortcut, which means they took their time with this.
A step above your supermarket single malts, blends, and popular blended malts. In a qualitative sense, this gets a 5. But since we factor in prices, and this is really affordable, this gets a 6. This is something I wouldn’t give to a whisky beginner since the ABV and full bodiedness can be too much.
Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove – Review
46% ABV. £46.45 from The Whisky Exchange. USD $41 locally.
Color: Apple juice.
On the nose: Immediately brighter compared to The Hive. At front is that sourness from the Madeira influence. Behind it are subtle aromas of kiwi, kumquat, lime peel, orange peel oils, hibiscus tea, butterfly pea, lavender and dehydrated lemon peels.
After being oxidized more, I get some light aromas of maltiness, bread crusts, honey, and vanilla. The acidity and sourness at the front also weakens. It gives way to more honey and bread crusts.
In the mouth: Maltier at the front. I get lingering tastes of honey, vanilla, bread crusts, cereal and cantaloupe melons. After that, fruity notes quickly follow. It’s like a fruit salad! With an oily texture, I get light to medium tastes of grapes, kiwi, honeydew melon, yellow Nerds candy, dried pineapples, Taiwanese pineapple cakes, apples, pears, cacao, and mocha.
A bit of a two-faced whisky until it starts to breathe more. This is like drinking a fruit salad. It’s more acidic and bright on the nose, but in the mouth it’s refreshing, oily, and crisp. The Madeira influence is only noticeable on the nose, but I love how it makes this whisky much more complex. This added complexity plus the refreshing flavors makes for a really easy drinking yet it’s full-bodied whisky.
I want this to be more available regularly. This gets a 6 + 1 due to how non-money grabbing this limited edition is.