By Richard Thomas
When Wemyss Malts announced they were both expanding their core line of vatted malt whiskies to the United States and were at the same time replacing the 8 year olds with NAS expressions, my first thought was “I wonder how those new ones compare to the old stuff?” The odd part about that was that I am more familiar with the 12 Year Old versions than the younger whiskies, with the only 8 year old I had sampled being The Spice King.
Once in the glass, the whisky has a golden appearance. The nose is spicy, but a bit smoky too, lying in a place where ginger and cinnamon cross paths with creosote.
The flavor is a touch sweet, and very spicy in the pungent, peppery vein, with a puff of smoke curling up at the end. The whisky has a cough syrup-like aftertaste, while leaving a rich, middlingly warm afterglow.
The first thing to note about the NAS Spice King is that it delivers more booze, at 46% abv versus the 40% abv of the 8 year old. However, of the two I prefer the 8 year old. The predecessor Spice King was a nicely balanced whisky, with a sweet side that allowed the little notes of musty wood and smoke to shine. In this version, the spice occupies the limelight all on its lonesome, with the other elements standing on the fringes of the stage and in the shadows.
Although official pricing data was not available at the time of writing, the new Spice King was already listed with retailers for $40.