By Richard Thomas
The Whiskey Reviewer delights in getting to new releases as quickly as possible, and so it was with great interest that I accepted delivery of a sample of Wemyss Malt’s big entry into the premium blended scotch market, Lord Elcho. This is the second time Wemyss has named an expression after the family’s illustrious history, the first being Darnley’s View, a gin named for the (some would say infamous) first meeting of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley at Wemyss Castle in 1565.
David Wemyss (Lord Elcho), the eldest son of the 5th Earl of Wemyss, is a minor historical figure compared to Darnley, but with a far less questionable reputation. He met the exiled James Stuart, claimant and pretender to the throne of both Scotland and England, in Rome in the early 1740s. When James’s son, Charles Edward Stuart or “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” began the ill-fated Jacobite uprising in Scotland in 1745, Lord Elcho was with him as first aide-de-camp, and fought at Prestonpans, Falkirk and Culloden. After the decisive defeat of the Stuart cause at Culloden, Elcho escaped to France with other Jacobite leaders. Elcho never returned to Britain, and embarked on a career in the French Army, eventually rising to the colonelcy of the Royal Scots.
I’m always excited to try new whiskey, especially when I can do so ahead of the curve, and as an amateur historian, I loved researching Lord Elcho’s story. So the question was, would the Lord Elcho 15 Year Old scotch live up to such impressive billing?
Lord Elcho is a 15 year old blended scotch with an emphasis on malt whiskey aged in sherry casks, and bottled at 40% alcohol.
In terms of packaging, Lord Elcho is certainly distinguished enough, with its striking blue label bearing the likeness of the laird himself, and a squat, reversed conical bottle of clear glass. That last feature shows off the scotch’s color, which in the glass comes across as a deep honey gold.
This is an aromatic whiskey, and I found that the nose took just few minutes to travel into the next room. Elcho has a rich scent, combining sweet vanilla with a strong hint of exotic sandalwood. The flavor is silky smooth, with hints of spiced fruit and oak. The slightly spicy character continues in the finish, which is long and lingering, but of only a low degree of warmth.
Lord Elcho is the sort of whiskey you’ll sniff as much as you sip, because if the nose isn’t the best part of this scotch, it’s certainly tied for first place. Although not especially complex, this first blended scotch from Wemyss is certainly well-balanced, full-bodied, and I found that the whiskey keeps your interest in its own particular manner.
Lord Elcho is set to retail at about £49.50. ($80)