Wemyss Malts is an independent bottler owned by the Wemyss family from Scotland. Since the 1300s, the family seat has been Wemyss Castle in Fife which is now featured on the labels. The Wemyss family have had a longstanding passion for malt whisky and their connections with the industry date back to the turn of the 19th century when John Haig (founder of Haig's) built his first distillery on Wemyss land.
Even today barley from the Wemyss Estate is prized by many of the leading distillers, and Cameron Bridge distillery is located just a few miles from the castle itself.
With this passion came the gradual realisation that, even for the knowledgeable consumer, much of the malt whisky terminology can be confusing. The Wemyss range of hand crafted malts was conceived with the aim of making them more accessible and understandable.
Wemyss use the taste and aromas of the individual whiskies to identify each bottling, rather than the distillery, so the consumer can more easily understand the style being purchased.
To many 'blending' in the whisky industry is a dirty word, but with the Wemyss family's premium wine background they believe differently. All premium wines are 'blended', even the best Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, with the best being a blend of the finest different batches of separate wines. Wemyss see no reason why this approach cannot be used in malt whiskies. For these whiskies Wemyss are what the wine industry calls a 'negociant' - choosing and blending a small number of very fine casks.
Up to sixteen different single malt whiskies are expertly blended together before introducing the “signature” malts to create three distinct taste profiles under Charles Maclean’s guidance: 'Spicy' (Spice King), 'Peaty' (Peat Chimney) and 'Honeyed'' (The Hive).
For the Spice King, Wemyss signature malt is from the Highlands, to produce a whisky with rich, full and spicy top notes. For The Hive, Wemyss use a signature malt from Speyside, giving vanilla and honeyed top notes and Peat Chimney uses an Islay signature to give top notes of sweet smoke, iodine and peat.
Each cask that is chosen for bottling is representative of the best characteristics of its regional origins and only the best casks are chosen by the Wemyss Nosing Panel, which is chaired by Charlie Maclean. This strict selection process limits the number of casks which are of the exceptional quality required to be elevated into this range.
After the Nosing Panel has selected the casks, they then delve into the flavour profile of these casks to ensure that the name given to each whisky reflects the unique aromas and flavours found within the bottle.
All single cask bottlings come in an individual gift carton, and are presented on a regional basis, reflecting the different taste profiles. Currently, there are five different malts in the range: Speyside, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Campbeltown.
All are bottled at a minimum of 46% but occasionally Wemyss comes across casks of such quality that they dictate bottling at natural cask strength. All of the single cask offerings are non chill-filtered and free of artificial colouring, such as caramel. Perfect when drunk neat, or with water, whatever your taste.
Wemyss Malts have a very strict wood policy, to ensure that they can consistently bottle the highest quality whiskies. They only use 1st fill or 2nd fill casks* to ensure that the wood is still active and can impart as much flavour as possible. Their 1st fill casks are rejuvenated by charring (the process of burning the inside of the cask to remove the old wood) to revitalise the wood before being re-used.
*1st fill casks are those which have previously held Sherry or Bourbon, but are being used for whisky maturation for the first time. 2nd fill casks are those which are being used for whisky maturation for a 2nd time.
Wemyss Malts are dedicated to producing the highest quality of whiskies possible, and so have also introduced a filling programme, in order to ensure quality and sustainability of Wemyss Malts in years to come.