Everyone always loves something a bit special. Gift boxes, limited editions, a good deal – all a worthy reason to treat yourself. If you’re a lover of whisky, you may have come across a relatively new, yet established company named Compass Box. This is a company I have personally known about since the beginning of my career, but only really came to venture towards each expression in the past two years. Now though, I look forward to trying anything that these guys spring up on us all.
So who are Compass Box?
An American named John Glaser entered the world of Scottish whisky, after spending many a year in the wine trade. After working with one of the biggest brands in the world, Johnnie Walker, in 2000, he created what we know today – Compass Box Whisky Company. The reason? John wanted to create a great Scottish whisky that can be approachable to a wide range of consumers. With this, the company buy individual casks and focus on creating a craftsman-like boutique product. None of their bottlings are chill-filtered and no colouring is added, and to round it off, they are all married exclusively in American oak.
Now I’ve been lucky enough to try the majority of the Compass Box range through various events and festivals, so below, I give to you my tasting notes on each –
Great King Street – 43%
Named after the street in Edinburgh where Compass Box is registered, it’s made combining 3 malt whiskies (two Northern Highland one Speyside) and 1 single grain whisky (Lowland) in never-before-used French oak barrels and American oak barrels. On the nose, a heavy scent of vanilla, citrus and some dried fruits with a sweet aroma hitting overall. As it moves onto your palate, fruity flavours gently hit your tongue which develops into vanilla, raisin and citrus. A creamy whisky that gives a long after-taste with a hint of spice.
Great King Street Glasgow Blend – 43%
Released in 2014. Soft honey and rose on the nose with smoke and strawberry jam combining well, followed with an underlining sweetness. Immediate fudge sweetness followed by a toffee smoke on the palate, plenty of light peat elements and hints of dry spice.Kicks of oak, bold, fresh peat creating a slightly dry citrus finish.
A Highland single malt whisky that’s vatted with a mix of 3 different malts for 12 months. The cask itself is a combination of French and American oak barrels, hence the name ‘Oak Cross’. On the nose it’s very light and sweet with a slight peat aroma emanating. The sweetness returns to the palate with vanilla notes making their way as well. A brief hit on the throat which gives a slow after-taste.
Spice Tree – 46%
Again another vatted malt from 3 single malts for a period of 24 months. The same cask process as ‘Oak Cross’ are used however they are burnt on the inside. Fruit aromas on the nose with a rich, spicy flavour igniting the palate that evolves into a lively well-rounded after-taste.
Peat Monster – 46%
3 single malts (two Isles and a Speyside) are vatted together in American oak casks to produce a soft, peaty aroma on the nose. Hints of smoke arise as the palate senses a light, sweet whisky with a slight spice and floral hints which goes into a lingering smoky finish. Not as harsh as expected!
Hedonism – 43%
First whisky to be created by Compass Box, a combination of grain whiskies in American casks that lasts for 20 years. A 100% grain whisky, rich flavours of coconut, toffee and vanilla create a creamy sensation on both the nose and palate, with the hints of grain in the background. A slight spicy end that gives a tingle towards the after-taste.
Orangerie – 40%
An infusion of Scotch whisky and the natural ingredients of orange peel and spices for a period of 3 weeks, this unique spirit can’t be named as a Scotch whisky due to its involvement of different ingredients. On the nose it gives a short orange aroma with a smooth orange, vanilla and subtle spice taste on the palate that balance well to create a clean, fresh feeling.
Flaming Heart – 48.9%
Combined peaty smokiness with the richness of French oak aging. A bold nose of smoke and peat but mellows quickly. A good combination of citrus and vanilla on the palate with a dry spice and smoke ending. Unfortunately discontinued.
The Entertainer –
Light on the nose with peat aromas noticeable and a whisp of soft corn. Rather sharp on the palate however with a slight kick of spice with makes your mouth water every time.
Eleuthera – 48.9%
Compass Box very first vatted malt, it combined 15yr malt whisky from the village of Brora with 12 yr malt from the village of Port Askaig. Slight pear aroma on the nose with a subtle floral scent following. Soft on the palate with a smooth offering of smoke which develops into a slight bitter end. Unfortunately discontinued.
Asyla – 40%
The most awarded bottle in the range. A light nose with soft aromas of green apple. Very smooth once on the palate but develops into a lingering spice that warms the apple flavours. Long.
If you ever have the chance to try something new, or indeed come across Compass Box in your bar, you will find an expression to suit your taste. The beauty of Compass Box is that they have given vision form a consumer’s point of view, what people actually want from whisky. And they’ve done it well. Grab a dram today.
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