Whisky Advent Calendar 2015: Day 3

3 12 2015

Third day of the calendar, second whisky I have never heard of, first blended malt.  You may remember from yesterday that a single malt scotch means one whose component spirits have been distilled in a single distillery; it may therefore not come as a surprise to learn that blended whiskies are those whose component spirits hail from different distilleries and are blended together.  Blended malt whiskies are blends whose components are entirely whiskies made from malted barley as opposed to other grains and are generally seen (not always rightly) as superior to “blended whiskies”, which can be a mix of malt and grain whisky.  Phew.  Some producers, like tonight’s, don’t make their own spirits at all, but instead act sort of like wine negociants, sourcing whiskies made from various distilleries and then using them to create and bottle their own custom blends.  As whiskies seem to transfer and flow across producers much more often in the scotch world than in the wine world, this is neither a bad nor an uncommon idea, and many of these blending specialists create killer drams at highly reasonable prices.  A bottle of the Wemyss (pronounced “Weems”) Malts The Hive 12 Year Blended Malt Scotch Whisky will set you back $77 at KWM; not too shabby for a scotch of that age.

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Wemyss Malts have a trio of blended malts in their profile which they have set up to meet three different flavour profiles:  Spicy, Peaty, and Honeyed.  Guess which one The Hive is meant to represent?  The bee on the label pretty much says it all.  Yes, this is the Honeyed Malt, made from a variety of malts from Speyside, and apart from a questionable dalliance with sherry casks (who tastes sherry and thinks “honey”?), it accomplishes its flavour mission fairly well.  It is a gorgeously dark, burnished amber colour and smells immediately of honeycomb (natch, though I swear I wrote that note before reading about the whole Honeyed Malt thing), salt lick, Brie cheese (thanks, sherry) and cedar, with a hint of leafiness on the fringes.  Despite being by far the lowest abv whisky in the calendar so far at 40% the alcohol flares almost immediately on the palate, somewhat obscuring the viscous, almost oily texture and sweet flavours of the scotch; I’m not sure why it can’t keep itself in check better or if the balance is off somehow.  Once you get past the boozy heat there’s a pleasing confectionary array of maple, butterscotch ripple, cream soda and, yes, honey, with layers of celery salt, mesquite and tree bark lurking underneath.  It’s unquestionably tasty, but due to its inability to successfully harness the lowest alcohol level you will commonly see in a whisky, I have to think it’s a bit of a step down in quality from the last two days.  Rocking label though.

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