Fast Review: The Spice King 8 Years Old Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

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An image from Wemyss http://www.wemyssmalts.com/

Wemyss, based in Edinburgh, does a series of blended malt whiskies, The Spice King, The Hive, and The Peat Chimney along with their other products. This one, The Spice King, focuses on malts from the Highlands with an emphasis on spicy characteristics, and is made from 16 malts.

Nose: A lightly peaty nose with some apricot, apple seeds, light dried fruit, and some earthy spice – cinnnamon, nutmeg. There is a decent spice cake character to this, and it contains a bit of a nutty rancio note from sherry casks and the lightly musty apple seed notes reminding me of fino sherry. It’s not overly spicy, but has some baking spices in the mix and a bit of a white pepper characteristic. There’s also a bit of a bready character to this, as in some well aged cognacs. The nose comes together nicely and I find good complexity and balance. 26.5/30 (88%)

Taste: A light sweet and smoky body with a good dose of dryness, especially at the end. There is light oak, raisins, and a fair bit of vanilla sweetness in the mix. The toffee and composition of the malt brings toffee to mind, as it has a bit of a buttery character. Not overly spicy, though, and not particularly hot. 25.5/30 (87%)

Finish: lightly peaty on the finish, with some more apple seeds, sherry-type nuttiness, and some nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. The sweetness continues on the finish. 16/20 (80%)

Conclusion: A nicely crafted malt – nuttiness, baking spices, and apple coming together fairly well with a good balance of sweetness. A good casual malt that can be moderately challenging – but certainly easy to sip. 17/20 (85%)

Overall: 85.5/100

Fast Review: Lord Elcho 15 Year Old Premium Blended Scotch Whisky

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An image from Wemyss Malts

Lord Elcho was a supporter to Bonnie Prince Charlie and was a leader in the Battle of Culloden during the Jacobite uprising in 1745 – the result of an attempt of Prince Charlie to regain the throne for his family after pretending to be the son of James Stuart, though himself the son of James II. Because of Lord Elcho’s role in the uprising, he was stripped of his title and exiled to France. The whisky is produced by Wemyss Malts, who produce a number of blended Scotch whiskies and whose founder was a descendant of Lord Elcho. The company is still family owned and occupy the Wemyss castle (legend has it that it’s haunted) in Fife where they’ve lived since the 1300s. The whisky was launched in 2012, and last year a no-age-statement Lord Elcho was also released.

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Fast Review: Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

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An image from the Monkey Shoulder Website

Traditionally, and still performed in some distilleries, the barley germinates on a floor into malt. While it does so, it must be continually “turned” or shovelled over so that it doesn’t grow into a solid carpet of barley plants. “Monkey Shoulder” refers to a condition that some men picked up after long shifts turning the barley by hand, where the work caused one of their arms to hang down a bit like a monkey. It is a blend of three speyside single malts, Kininvie (rarely seen as a single malt), Balvenie, and Glenfiddich – all owned by William Grant and Sons. All of the whiskies going into this blend is matured in ex-bourbon casks, and each batch is made from 27 casks.

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Review: Forty Creek Confederation Oak Canadian Whisky (Batch D)

Confed Oak 1I have wanted to do a batch review of this one for some time. This whisky is partially matured in Canadian Oak casks, being the only major whisky producer to do so. These very carefully made casks are limited in quantity, but have quite thick staves (1.5″), which means that they can be re-used and rejuvenated for a longer period than regular casks. Regardless, the interaction with the wood is a bit different each time – and I’ve been interested to see how the batches change, if indeed they do. This bottling is from batch D, and I have already reviewed batch B, which was one of my favourite whiskies. Below the review is a direct batch comparison from some of my samples I had left over. I’ve already seen batch E in the stores, so this it’s amazing how quickly we’ve moved through this.

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Review: Wiser’s 18 Years Old Canadian Whisky (2014)

Wiser's 18Wiser’s 18 Year Old is a classic Canadian whisky somewhat notorious in some circles for batch variation. I wrote a review last year on a previous batch (which was quite nice), and this is a different batch (the previous had 3500 bottles, and this one only has 3400 bottles). The bottle code stamped on the back of the bottle is L140062204B.

I picked up this bottle in the fall, and now I believe on some shelves (in Canada at least), a new batch with a different label is on the shelf – actually even perhaps 3 more. I have a few re-reviews of some other batches of Canadian whiskies I’ll be posting soon, especially as the batches can go out of date quickly.

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Fast Review: Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey

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An image from the Tullamore Dew Website

This whisky was originally produced at the Tullamore Dew distilery, but it is now produced at Midleton along with other whiskies such as Redbreast. This movement was caused by the mix of prohibition and an export ban placed on the Irish whiskey industry, which at the time was booming. The whiskey is triple distilled, which often yields a lighter character. Certainly, as I’ve explored more of Irish whiskey, I’ve found the quality to be quite high, and, in many cases, low prices also provide excellent value (take Black Bush, or Redbreast 12 Year Old for example!).

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Fast Review: The One Blended British Whisky

The One

The Lakes Distillery just opened recently, in the Lake District – an absolutely beautiful region of England – my favourite area in the world. This winter, I had the chance to drop by and try their blended whisky, which is a blend of whiskies from all over the British Isles – rather than simply a Scottish or Irish Blend, though most of the components come from Scotland. The distillery itself is quite spectacular and care was certainly taken in planning and building it. They will be making a single malt but it is still maturing and will be ready in 2017; they also make an absolutely fantastic toffee vodka.

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