Now this is the whisky that first put Compass Box on the map! Not just for its flavour profile but because it was a) the first time that Compass Box had printed the blend’s recipe on their bottles and b) used an unusual maturation method, both of which got them in trouble with the Scotch Whisky Association. Whilst the recipe does not feature on the bottles anymore, the recipe is still available on their website (some classic legal pedantry at play here). This whisky features the same blend of malts as their Oak Cross blend: 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine and 20% Teaninich. The final liquid in your glass has been matured via a mixture of vanilla toasted hybrid barrels / infra red toasted hybrid barrels / mocha toasted hybrid barrels / and good old American Standard Barrels (“ASB”). The exact process and contents are available here, and it weighs in at a punchy 46% ABV.
There’s a strong boozy nose here at first with caramel and oak in play upfront and then there’s a real contest for the follow up flavours – presumably all of the spices!
A smooth, sweet start and then, only after it’s sat on the tongue for a moment BOOM! All of those spices are now in play. Think coffee, star anise, stem ginger and both white and black pepper, all coming in and trampling all over that initial toffee sweetness.
A really peppery, lingering finish there. You can taste the whisky long after it’s gone.
Yep, it’s living up to its name. It’s so on point. Exactly how long it took the team to match up each of these maturations and variants to the barrels remains a mystery but one thing for sure is that this is a distinctive whisky, and very enjoyable. The history of the whisky having to be discontinued due to its original experimental nature is indicative of Compass Box’s innovative approach and a sign of great things to come. On the debrief afterwards, we had to be honest and agreed that you probably couldn’t have more than a single (but still generous) serving in one night, as it seems to be more of a dram for savouring than swift supping, but a damn enjoyable and intriguing dram it is.