As with all Compass Box whiskies, the name of the game here is quality and transparency, even if the name of the whisky itself is “No Name“. What is more unusual however is that, whenever Islay whiskies are used in blends, then the original distillery tends to hide its identity within a shroud of mystery and so Compass Box have simply given away the nearby location of their source whiskies on this occasion. Being an Islay-influenced whisky, the main flavour profile of No Name is that of peat. In fact, the blenders have stated that this is their peatiest whisky yet, and comprises (rather accurately): 75.5% of its liquid from “Pier Road, South East of Islay” which has been matured in recharred American oak barrels; 10.6% of its content from “Near The Village Of Port Askaig”, which has been housed in refilled American standard oak barrels; 13.4% from “Near The Village of Brora”, that has matured in refill Hogshead barrels;, and then the final, remaining 0.5% liquid comes from Compass Box‘s stock ‘Highland Blend’ – which itself is 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, and 20% Teaninich, which have been stored in a heavily toasted French oak hybrid barrel (one of Compass Box‘s other unique and contentious facets!). The final blend is married together and then bottled at 48.9%ABV, and the full size bottles are ca. £100 GBP if you can get your hands on one!
A good old burst of peat smoke. But it is not too thick and cloying. There’s a drying wood smoke there too. Despite knowing that it is predominantly an Ardbeg, it has a slight Laphroaig style medicinal/iodine style of pungency and a nice, sweetness and soft salinity. This must be what a salted caramel chocolate smells like once it has been set on fire.
Um… peat? Yep. Loads of it. But it is not your usual hit around the head with a peat brick. Compared to any malt whisky, the peat’s volume is turned up, but it is not deafening and there’s a little pastry-like sweetness behind it (presumably, on backing vocals to continue the analogy).
Despite the large amounts of smoke, it still feels quite fresh and leaves a gentle warmth behind. There’s a little caramel sweetness that’s left behind too and a little sweet fruitiness that seems to appear long after the whisky has gone, which reminds me of glace cherries.
With an opening bid to say that this new Compass Box release is their peatiest blend yet is quite the statement – particularly when you consider that they have a core release called “The Peat Monster” (see previous tasting notes here). To be fair, when you have access to a large quantity of Ardbeg, (which is surely what the “Pier Road” reference alludes to) then you must have to embrace the peat and fair play to Compass Box for harnessing the power of Ardbeg because, despite over 3/4 of this whisky coming from that distillery, they have still managed to round the edges off. Also, presumably the reference to 10.6% of the final liquid’s contents coming from somewhere “near the village of Port Askaig” is a reference to Caol Ila, and if so, they are again, a peaty player, and, in my experience offer some very fresh tasting and pungent whiskies. With all that peat in play, it is testament to the master blender however that they have still managed to hide away some sweet, salty and fruity flavours, which just seem to reveal themselves slowly once the smoke has done its magic. Collectively those flavours made for an experience that I imagine a peated bakewell tart would taste like. Only once the smoke has subsided though, and, let’s make no bones about it, the smoke is king here. Overall, this was a truly enjoyable peated whisky that still managed to remain light and have numerous elements hidden away beneath the smoke and the tasting experience was all the better for it. Totally delicious.
Sample disclosure: The above notes were made following a sample of the whisky via my Dram Team subscription service.