Wemyss Billowing Embers – a 15 year old single cask Bunnahabhain from 1997 bottled at 46%. We’ve tried a few Bunnahabhain’s from 1997 and have been fans of them all; this was the year that the distillery decided to distil some heavily peated spirit as opposed to their gentler style which they are famous for. We were excited then to try this offering from Wemyss distilled in that year! Wemyss have been doing well recently with news of a new distillery in Fife, and with the news that this particular bottle (and two further ones from the new releases) are already sold out – impressive stuff.
Here then are our notes on this Islay whisky:
This Bunnahabhain is one of the palest whiskies we’ve encountered; it is only faintly tinted – much like sea water; the cask has imparted very little colour during its 15 year maturation. On the nose we, perhaps unsurprisingly, found initial bursts of peat. However this wasn’t the heavy peat that we’d been expecting, instead it was sweeter and more well rounded, perhaps even smelling more youthful than expected (it was very reminiscent of the peat found when nosing the Ledaig no age statement whisky). We found lots of cereal and malt coming through, almost breakfast cereal in smell; and in the lighter notes detected a good offering of spearmint. It is a complex nose and definitely one to spend time enjoying.
As we rolled the whisky around our gums we could feel the heat and spices building. This was balanced out by the sweet peat that shone through. Overall the palate felt refreshed and clean after drinking; the whisky is almost like mouthwash in that our mouth felt alive and zingy afterwards – a great experience! As the whisky evaporated off the tongue it left a pleasant peaty residue and there was definitely more of that minty freshness on the finish.
This whisky, if you can find it, would either be a great introduction to the whiskies of Islay, or one to satisfy that ‘inner whisky geek’; it is a peated Bunnahabhain that does a lot more than deliver a big peaty hit – its very moorish and a dram you could easily spend the night with.