This whisky is based on 16 different malts, with a focus on Islay (and peat!).
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.
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.
I 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.
Wiser’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.
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!).