Wemyss Malts Single Cask Review(s)
Four Different Single Cask, Single Malts in One Review
After Derby Day - 29 Year Allt-A-Bhainne - 46% abv - Matured in Hogshead
Bough to the Breeze - 27 Year Glen Spey - 46% abv - Matured in Hogshead
Apothecary’s Notebook - 15 Year Caol Ila - 57.2% abv - Matured in Hogshead
A Moment Savoured - 14 Year Glenallachie - 46% abv - Matured in Refill Butt
All are single cask releases
All samples provided by PWS Imports which are much appreciated but this will never influence my honest thoughts and feelings.
All are nosed and sipped from Glencairn Whisky Glasses.
After Derby Day - 29 Year Allt-A-Bhainne
I honestly don’t know what to expect from this. Will the cask have taken over completely?
Let's dive in and see. OOOOHH tons of vanilla right away. Like an Allt-A-BAT of vanilla. Sweet vanilla like a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting...hell even vanilla sprinkles on it. As it opens up with a couple swirls in the glass some nice orange citrus notes come out and tickle the nose hairs. I keep going back to the nose on this one and caramel sweetness peeks through. A tad of oak tries to show as I take deep huffs out of the glass.
A rich creamy mouthfeel immediately presents. The same vanilla sweetness opens up followed quickly by what I can only describe as “oaked toffee”. I get malty notes tinged with that citrus tang enveloping it. For almost 30 years in a cask I’m actually surprised that there isn’t a huge wood tannin or oak presence. There’s almost a freshness on the palate and all classic bourbon cask notes in this one. On the finish the creaminess almost makes its way to a chocolate note and the finish is the only point where any kind of heat shows and it's a mere prickle if anything at all. I have almost zero experience with this distillery previously and while the classic flavours are there from a long time spent in a bourbon hogshead. This is the kind of whisky that you can sit with and just dive into for a long while. Nothing will surprise you but the nuances found are pretty great.
Bough to the Breeze - 27 Year Glen Spey
I have zero experience with Glen Spey before. I am going into this completely blind other than the info posted up above.
Okay I don’t know what's going on. Is it the power of suggestion from the name of this bottling. I seriously get freshly washed linen on the first whiff of this dram. Like the “Yankee Candle Company Fresh Linen” candles my mom used to light up all the time. To say this nose is floral would be an understatement. I dig deeper to try to find something else and I’m getting a bit of honey and some soft fruit flavours. I can’t get over how very floral this nose is on this whisky. It may be the most floral nose I’ve ever experienced but I absolutely love it.
While the fresh floral notes continue into the Palate, there is a lot more to dive into here. Another super fresh taste even though it's spent more than a quarter century in a cask. Orange peel tang, with an almost cinnamon dusted apple fruit note coming out. A touch of eucalyptus comes out while a malt or more like barley note shows up as well. Again the finish is the only time any alcohol heat shows up and again it’s not much at all. This time it shows itself more as a nutmeg or spice note that clings to the throat. This whisky was absolutely a surprise in a glass. That floral note I will never forget and doubt will ever experience quite like this with any other whisky. I quite enjoyed the contrasting nose and palate and this whisky grabbed my attention.
A Moment Savoured - 14 Year Glenallachie
Most people that know me know my feelings on present day Glenallachie and their “master distiller” (see my best of 2022 post for Best Speyside scotch). Thankfully this has absolutely zero Billy Walker influence and should be a true telling of what unadulterated Glenallachie is like.
Wow. This one definitely shows a different wood than the previous two. A savory yet fruity nose immediately. Blueberry pie fresh from the oven comes out and maybe some vanilla ice cream on it melting from the still warm filling. A light spice shows, maybe some cinnamon that also drags in some more fruit but of the red variety this time. A little time and the vanilla comes out a bit more. This so far is an enticing whisky and one I can't wait to dive into on the palate.
Oh yes. I know I like this a lot right off the hop. Dark sweet fruits right away. As the fruit notes fade the spice builds. Some ginger but mostly cinnamon leading into even a touch of pepper. This is the right amount of sherry influence that the distillate needs ;p It is sublime from start to finish here. It finishes with more fruit, the berries have seemed to return now, and as it fades an almost chocolate note shines. Literally like the after taste of eating a whole box of Glossette chocolate raisins. It shouldn't be a surprise that I really liked this one. I hope there is still some available as I think this is one that needs to be shared with all the “New” fans of the “New” Glenallachie.
Apothecary’s Notebook - 15 Year Caol Ila
Of all these distilleries, I definitely am most familiar with Caol Ila. I love almost every Caol Ila from their distillery releases to Independent releases. They have a consistent distillate that just seems to make my palate and nose very happy.
This Caol Ila is at first altogether both very familiar and yet also interestingly unknown. The Cask Strength is noticeable on the nose as well. Salty coastal notes show through with tarry ropes (one of my favourite tasting notes) and enticing smokiness. Beneath that there is a citrus note that again is typical of most bourbon casked Caol Ila. After a bit of time in the glass and a gentle swirl I am picking out a peppermint note that may work its way into a bit of licorice. The nose is both a fond friend while also being a bit of a mystery.
This hits with a whomp! The cask strength immediately leaves my tongue and gums tingling. It's a fresh Caol Ila, and while yes the oily coastal brine and smoke definitely comes through with a punch, there is a fresh citrus and grassy note. Imagine a grass fire that was put out with salt water from the ocean and then tamped out with someone in rubber boots that get a little too hot. The finish on this one is long lasting and spicy, warm, hot, full abv, and definitely a lasting smoke. There is a peppery note but strangely I also get a bit of freshly air popped popcorn and the very tail end of the finish. With a little bit of water, the heat tames, and the notes left sweeten up a great deal. A bit of caramel shows up and the citrus comes in a bit heavier while the smoke is still there.
It isn't every day that someone gets to try 4 really cool single cask releases from one company at the same time. Especially when two of them have sat in casks patiently biding their time for over a quarter of a century. I have come to appreciate bourbon casked whiskies a lot more in the past year or so, and I definitely appreciate the time and wood interaction in the 27 and 29 year old malts. That Glenallachie was definitely my favourite of the four but it's a Glenallachie I have never experienced before. Rounding it out and saving the Cask Strength and Peated dram was a very smart idea. A Caol Ila that impressed me in every way was a perfect ending to this tasting.
There are still bottles of these available in the market at the time of writing, and if you are looking to grab an interesting bottle you can share with guests and have a discussion about, you can’t go wrong with any of these.