Wemyss (pronounced 'weems') is a relative newcomer to the Australian whisky scene, but this family-owned Scottish company has a long history in fine whisky and wine. The Wemyss family also recently opened their own distillery, named Kingsbarns distillery, near their ancestral home (a castle, actually!) in the Scottish Lowlands. But they're currently better known as both an independent bottling and blending company. They've released some acclaimed, albeit hard to come by, independent single cask bottling's, and lately their blended whiskies have been gaining serious popularity.
This particular example is probably the most widely acclaimed of the lot. Like all of Wemyss' blends, is named 'velvet fig' after it's intended flavour profile. Sounds promising! As you may have guessed from the name, it's mostly sherried whisky in this one. It's a blended malt, meaning it contains only different single malts, and no grain whisky. There's no age statement to be found, but I can forgive Wemyss for that, because it's been bottled at 46%, without added colouring or chill filtration.
It was released in late 2014, and won best blended malt at the world whisky awards in 2015. There were only 6000 bottles released in the first place, and naturally it's now become quite hard to find. It was priced at around $100-110 at the time of release, which isn't cheap for a blend. I grabbed a sample here at Nippy Sweetie Whiskies, and it seems they've still got some in stock, for $10 each. That's a little more reasonable!
Wemyss 'Velvet Fig' Blended Malt, NAS, 46%, Scotland.
Blend of unknown single malts. Non-chill filtered, no added colouring. 6000 bottles released.
Nose: Medium-dry sherry, Oloroso? But also quite nutty. A little rum like as well - raw sugar, caramelised bananas. Banana sherbet and a little cream. A little spirit-y as well.
Texture: Nice, but a little heat there as well.
Taste: Spicy, a little honey, and dry sherry now. A little spirit-y heat again, and not a great deal else.
Finish: Quite short, and delicate. Young sherry and spirit-y young malt. Then it's all over.
Score: 2.5 out of 5 (blend score).
Notes: A bit of a let-down, really. Just a little lacking in depth and complexity, and a little young and spirit-y. A decent showing, but not in the same league as most of the sherry-heavy single malts I've tasted, at a similar price. And to accentuate that point, this blend was around the $100 AUD mark when it was readily available, which puts it at the same level as Glendronach 15, and quite a way above the 12. And there's just no contest there.
That's not to say that Wemyss' malts and blends are not worth giving a shot, and of course these reviews are only my personal opinion. But for me, this one just didn't live up to the hype.
A new peated expression, named Kiln Embers, which apparently contains twice the amount of peated malt of their standard peated blend, was released overseas recently, and sounds pretty good. Like the Velvet Fig expression, it's non-chill filtered, and is bottled at 46%. And that all sounds quite promising to me...