By Richard Thomas
Although high-end vatted malts are the bread and butter at Wemyss, that isn’t the only thing those Scottish negociants get up to. Earlier this year, Wemyss released their first premium blended scotch, Lord Elcho, but the company also has a commitment to single malt whiskey. As a company that assembles choice scotch from different distilleries, they sometimes come barrels that stands out on it own merits, and these find their way into limited release bottlings as single cask, single malt scotches.
Winter Larder is just such an example. A 20 Year Old from Speyside distillery Glen Elgin, who release a 12 Year Old single malt under their own name. Bottled in August 2011 at 46% abv, the Wemyss Winter Larder was limited to a run of 654.
This scotch is distinct from the outset, being darker than what one typically expects. In the glass, the whiskey has a pale amber coloring, akin to mahogany. Maturation in an old sherry butt gave this whiskey a very dessert-like aroma, with overtones of stewed apples and caramel, while the lengthy aging period endows it with undertones of woodiness (both oak and sandalwood) with a slight tinge of leather. It’s a good sniffing whiskey, that’s for sure, as the candy quality ably balances the hoary, woody side of this 20 Year Old.
The candied fruits qualities of the nose is largely absent on the palate, however. The flavor is woody, musty and leathery, going over as very aged indeed. There is a slight licorice note towards the end and underneath it all, that being the sole reminder of the sweetness of the whiskey’s scent, and a little bit of a bite. The character here is a mellow, settled one, with just a dab of spice to keep things lively. The finish is of middling length, and continues along the aged, woody line, but with a dash of pepper.
Winter Larder retails for about $130 a bottle, although keep in mind supplies started small and will become more limited with time. At the time of publication, less than 700 bottles of Winter Larder had already been on the market for more than a year.