By Richard Thomas
The interesting thing about the vatted malt line from Wemyss Malts is how different expressions under the same label can sometimes have substantially different characters. In one of those things that turns the conventional wisdom of “older whiskey is better whiskey” on its head, I liked the Peat Chimney 8 Year Old much better than its older, 12 Year Old cousin. The Wemyss vatted malts have offered me plenty of surprises, and always pleasant surprises at that, so it’s a bittersweet moment to come to (what is for me, at any rate) the final installment in the line: the Spice King 12 Year Old.
Bottled at 40% abv, the Spice King 12 Year Old has a very light copper color, like full-bodied gold with a coppery tinge in it, or polished brass. The nose has a musty oak character, and is a little leathery, but balanced with sweet and spicy scents akin to ginger cookies. The flavor flows from there: woody with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger spice, plus a smoky note and a slight peppery bite. The finish is light and short, and rolls off the woody astringency and the pepper, leaving a light, ashy aftertaste.
This older version of the Spice King is a wonderfully balanced creation. It’s not bold, but nor is it subdued or understated. It’s complex, but not subtle. The only thing I found myself wishing for was a longer, deeper finish, and that was a minor, half-wish at most. If you like your whiskey just a little on the cookie and pepper spice side, this is a good choice.
The Spice King 12 Year Old is supposed to retail for about $55 in the United States. In Europe, I see it listed for roughly €40.
AwardsIn 2011, the Spice King 12 Year Old scored a silver at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.