The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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Page 57 of 124

january/february 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  57 january/february With the release of his blended malt Scotch whiskies to the American market, William Wemyss aims to prove that putting a spotlight on the flavor profiles of blended malts can help consumers effortlessly discover their favorite styles of Scotch. We recently checked in with William for his thoughts on the production and release of the blended malts, as well as his family's distillery. How are your blended malts different than those produced by other independent bottlers? The philosophy behind these whiskies is to use the flavor profile to identify the bottling, rather than a specific single malt distillery name. We start with a flavor profile like that of The Hive, then select single malt barrels that fit that flavor profile. For The Hive, we want a fruitier, lighter spirit matured in bourbon barrels to create a sweeter, more honeyed product. When consumers think of sweeter flavors, they think of Speyside, so we describe The Hive as a Speyside style. That doesn't mean that every one of the single malts we use has to be from the Speyside region—we just blend to find that sweeter style. For the consumer, that name helps them find the flavor. What led you to create these blended malts? Our family started in the wine trade. We had a wine business in western Australia and we still have a wine business in France. The more I learned about wine and the power of blending, I saw an opportunity in the Scotch whisky industry to bring that approach to Scotch. Why is blending so important? For us, this is about flavor as opposed to bottling some- body else's casks. We're keeping it understandable for the consumer by concentrating on flavor profiles rather than the fixation on a specific distillery, while at the same time maintaining very high quality. Say you're a master blender: If you're selecting from one single distiller's single malt, it's like wearing a pair of hand- cuffs. You can only select casks from that distillery and of a certain age for your product. But if you can select from more than one single malt, suddenly you can paint your expres- sion on a much greater canvas. That's the goal of master blenders, to create a consistent product from batch to batch, and that's exactly what the wine industry is doing. They're blending different grape varieties from different soils and different terroirs to create a consistent product time after time. When you look at the Grand Cru Classé of Bordeaux—Château Haut-Brion, Latour, Lafite—they're all blends. And now you've built your own distillery? We did. We just built our family's first distillery at Kingsbarns, near St. Andrews in Fife. It opened on St. Andrew's Day [November 30] in 2014. It's on the 15th hole of the Kingsbarns golf links, so when you've had a terrible round of golf, you can pop up for a whisky and a gin—or the other way around, when you've had a hole-in-one, you can pop in to the visi- tor's center and celebrate. Wemyss Malts are imported by Palm Bay International. by Kate Webber / photo by Josh Reynolds William Wemyss WEIGHS IN

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