My affinity and curiosity (and often disappointment) from vatted malts is well known to my readers, as making a really good vatted malt, one that truly highlights what each of the different malts brings into the blend is a true feat of art. Also well known is my disdain for the inevitable “best ____ whisky of 201X” prize-fests, especially those that don’t come with a detailed reasoning of the reasons for the particular selection versus the other contestants.
So with all those caveats in mind, I got to taste Wemyss’ Velvet Fig, quite a long time after a friend sent me a sample of it. Incidentally, that week Velvet Fig also won Whisky Magazine’s Best Scotch Blended Malt at the World Whiskies Awards, making this post doubly timely.
In Velvet Fig, Wemyss changed their entire approach to vatted malts (or malt blends, as they should be legally referred to ). The previous editions of the three regional vatted malts -The Hive, Peat Chimney and Spice King – were bottled at 40% ABV, not stated to be unchill filtered, and were age stated with both 8 and 12 year old versions available. Velvet Fig, on the other hand, is NAS but is bottled at 46% and is non chill filtered (the press release says “natural mahogany color” so I’ll assume there’s not coloring added). Right off the bat I’d expect a much richer flavor profile, and being a heavily sherried whisky, it can probably get away with being somewhat younger. So on that front, Velvet Fig is a step forward. The only thing to be sorry about is not keeping the age statement on it.
Wemyss Malts Velvet Fig Vatted Malt (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Deep bronze, very slow legs.
Nose: Dried fruit jump out of the glass at you, cinnamon and cloves with a deep sherry sweetness, wood spices and orange peel under the sweet layer.
Palate: Sweet and syrupy, with sweetness washing over the tongue, sweet and hot spices intertwine with the tiniest hint of salt.
Linger: Light dryness on sides of cheeks plays with a latent sweetness on the tongue. Notes of espresso and chocolate mix with gentle spice.
They nailed it! They really did with this one. While I wasn’t all that enthused with Peat Chimney (reviewed here), this vatted malt is a whole new ball game.
It feels like Aberlour A`bunadh with a touch of Talisker and a western Highlander for the Salt (like Old Pulteney), and the malts work beautifully together. The bottle says that this is a limited edition, and if so, and sherry is your thing, you might want to get a bottle.