Today, I’m going back to one of my favourite whisky categories…blended malt scotch. This is a category that continually provides some excellent value expressions that can be enjoyed without digging too far into your pocket book. One of the newer independent bottlers to hit Alberta shelves, Wemyss Malts bottles some excellent single cask Scotches as well as a variety of blended malts including Spice King, The Hive and Peat Chimney. It’s the latter I’ll be reviewing today. Wemyss Malts also owns Kingsbarns Distillery, which I’ve reviewed previously.
This Wemyss Malts Peat Chimney is a blend of peated and unpeated single malts from the Islay, Highlands and Speyside regions of Scotland. It’s non-age stated, so the only assumption I can make is that the blend is at least three years old. By the looks of it, I’d say that this is mostly ex-Bourbon cask matured. It’s bottled at 46% ABV and is natural coloured and non-chill filtered.
Nose: When I first poured this sample into my glass, all I really got was the peated malt in this blend. Now that it has sat for a while, the Speyside fruitiness is coming out from beneath the peat. Crisp apples hit my nose first, followed by pineapple and freshly grated orange zest. There’s a hint of mango, but it’s faint. And of course there’s the peat. Definitely some lemon scented cleaner. This sounds like a bad note, but it really isn’t. Lightly grilled lemon balanced that out. That citrusy peat really plays well with the Speyside fruit notes. There’s a light brine character which isn’t as strong as a 100% Islay blend. I’m getting some dried ginger and coriander seed for the spices.
Palate: Light and sweet on the entry with lightly floral honey and even some cantaloupe leading the way. There’s an unexpected watermelon note in there as well. Intriguing! The sourness from the peat, again compared to 100% Islay blends, is subtle, but still provides enough heft. That grilled lemon very slowly build through the development and doesn’t swamp out the fruitiness I got from the entry. There’s just a little spice at the backend of the development in the form of white pepper and ginger as well as a faint fudge note.
Finish: This is on the short side, but very nicely balanced. That honey sweetness from the entry continues its presence till the end. I like the balance between sweet and sour here.
Conclusion: For its proof, this is actually quite a light dram. Those who buy this expecting a similar experience to other peated blends such as Mac-Talla, Big Peat and Peat Monster and going to be a bit disappointed, yet I don’t feel that it was Wemyss’ intention to compete in that market with Peat Chimney. Instead, I personally regard this as an excellent introduction to peated scotch, similar to Johnnie Walker Green Label (an often passed over, but thoroughly enjoyable, lightly peated blended malt). I certainly appreciate how Wemyss was able to blend Peat Chimney in such a way that the Speyside character still shone through. I’ll take a look at The Hive and Spice King soon.