The Wemyss Spice King 12 Year Old Highland and Islay Blended Malt nose brings me to the open hearth kitchen I wish I’d grown up in: There are stew-y, prune-y apricot halves in gently simmering simple syrup, slowly coagulating into a compote. My wholly-fictitious, wholly belovéd Aunt Françoise drops in golden raisins and uses a pipette to drip in a tincture of rose water distillate, drop by drop by drop. There’s a faint whiff of peat, perhaps informed by knowing that there is an Islay in the blend, or perhaps my wholly fictitious adorable niece Annabel pooted after nibbling some peat she found playing in the nearby bog. There’s also a light mist of lacquer-y goodness in the kitchen, as if Annabel’s flatulence had aerosolized some of the finish off of our belovéd old mahogany kitchen table. Fortunately, she’s short enough that none of her transformative poot reached the bowl of gooseberry/kiwi/arugula salad.
The mouth takes the all the nose notes and, like an exceptional musician, turns the list of notes into compelling music. The mouthfeel is light and fast, yet there’s a richness and an autumnal ochre coat perfectly fending off the early October nip. There’s a high apricot pitch, a low stonefruit ostinato and an alto/tenor duet of leather and tobacco, despite the composer having thrown those parts away in a pique of anger when neither singer would succumb to the composer’s giddy, awkward advances. The leathery tobacco-y duet remains, not as a memory, but more as the reverberations of the Platonic Ideal of the music.
The finish brings long and de-sweetified molasses, segueing into a caramel melting on the tongue. The ‘melt’ of the malt continues like a between-scenes harpsichord continuo into crème brûlée flavored with star anise. (To be specific, the star is Alnilam, one of the stars comprising the constellation Orion. How a star came to be associated with those bits of shaved anise is a fascinating story, alas, too long to be told here.) It opens evermore, like anti-Poe’s anti-Raven anti-quothing, and the opening is as grand as the prose is grandiloquent.
On the scale of Spice Kings–
The Wemyss Spice King 12 Year Old Highland and Islay Blended Malt is Denis Villeneuve–Nerd alert: First, for any of what follows to make sense, one should be aware of the Dune saga. Second, one might argue that Frank Herbert, the world-building author of Dune, is the Spice King; however, St. Denis of the New House convinced People With Lots of Money and Major Movie Stars to combine to make a movie adaptation that breathes a new kind of life into the world that Herbert built. I argue thus that Villeneuve is the true Spice King. Crowning him in Wemyss glory feels just about perfect.