I believe this was the 5th edition of Compass Box’s Flaming Heart, released in 2015 to commemorate their 15th anniversary. I’ve had earlier editions of Flaming Heart and quite enjoyed them—I still have one unopened bottle; not sure which release it is, but it was purchased in 2012. Anyway, this edition is said to contain 27.1% 30 yo Caol Ila from a refill bourbon hogshead, 24.1% 20 yo Clynelish from a rejuvenated bourbon hogshead, 38.5% 14 yo Caol Ila from a refill ex-bourbon hoghshead and 10.3% of a 7 yo blend of Highland malts from Clynelish, Teaninich and Dailuaine that came out of some cask with French oak involvement. So officially this is 7 yo whisky for $140 (the price at release) and don’t let the fancy decimal points distract you from that. I kid, I kid: they could easily have left out that 10.3% and asked for even more money for this. That said, I’m not quite as enamoured of Compass Box’s whiskies as many whisky geeks. As I’ve said before, I can never quite shake the feeling that their bespoke presentation and ability to speak in the language of whisky geeks has a lot to do with their reception. That said, I did like the 10th anniversary Peat Monster a lot and I hope this will be in that vein. Let’s see. Continue reading
This review commemorates the 2nd anniversary of the release of the 10th anniversary edition of Compass Box’s Peat Monster. The regular peat monster is a bit of a misnomer as it’s not really much of a peat monster—it’s certainly not in Ardbeg Supernova or Port Charlotte or Octomore territory. Nonetheless, it’s quite beloved of whisky geeks. As I’ve noted before, I’m never sure how much of the love thrown Compass Box’s way is on the merits of what they bottle and how much a mix of a love of the idea of Compass Box and/or an appreciation of their laudable transparency about their recipes and processes (at least until the Scotch Whisky Association recently slammed them for it)—I’m sure the bespoke packaging and quirky names help too (as does the fact that John Glaser seems like a very genial gent).
Anyway, my hit rate with them is not as good as their reputation would suggest. I did not care for the widely loved Hedonism and thought Great King Street was just okay; I did like Eleuthera though. Calibrate your opinion of my review of this one accordingly. Continue reading
Compass Box seem to have the whisky geek version of “most favoured nations” status but try as I might I have not yet come across an expression from this innovative bottler that to my palate has matched its reputation, story or stylish presentation (though I did like the Eleuthera). I should say in advance that this is also true of this bottle of Great King Street (which is a blend of single malt and grain whisky). I opened this as well for our local whisky group’s June tasting and it wasn’t just my lowest whisky of the night, it was pretty much everyone’s—and everyone but me was tasting everything blind. As with all their whiskies, it does have a nice label and an evocative name. Unlike most of their whiskies it’s at 43%.
Compass Box, Great King Street (43%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Mild sweet fruit (apples mostly) and a light grassy note. With more time there’s some soft, buttery oak and some cream. With more time there’s some citrus mixed in with the sweet fruit. Continue reading
Following yesterday’s review of the Eleuthera, one of Compass Box’s vatted malts, here is the Hedonism, which may be the only all-grain blend they’ve released (at least in general release). I’ve not had too many Scotch grain whiskies, and those only much older single grains, which is a category that seems to be picking up steam among whisky geeks these days. The Hedonism also has old whisky in it and as per their site it’s all from 100% first-fill American oak barrels and/or rejuvenated American oak hogsheads. As they specify barrels and hogsheads this would imply that they’re ex-bourbon (sherry is also matured in American oak casks–European oak is used primarily during storage and shipping*–but in much larger butts or puncheons).
*This is something I learned recently from my friend Rich who visited a number of sherry bodegas in Spain earlier this year. Continue reading
Compass Box, run by John Glaser, are a well-known and highly regarded independent bottler of blended and vatted Scotch Whiskies. They have released a number of vatted malts (this Eleuthera, Flaming Heart, Spice Tree, the Peat Monster etc.) as well as grain-malt blends (Asyla, Great King Street), a blend of grain whiskies (Hedonism), plus some experiments (Orangerie–an infused whisky). The Eleuthera, which is discontinued, is said to be a blend of 15 year old Clynelish and 12 yo Caol Ila; but the language on the Compass Box website suggests that these may not have been the only whiskies in the various releases before it went away. (“Typically it combined 15 year-old malt whisky from the village of Brora, aged in re-charred hogsheads, with 12 year-old malt from the village of Port Askaig.” [emphasis added])
Compass Box’s blends have a higher profile among whisky geeks than most blends; frankly, while I’ve liked all the ones I’ve tried fine, none have overly impressed me. They do have a very bespoke presentation and Glaser is both engaging and very transparent with his methods, and so I always want to like their whiskies more than I do. Let’s see if this Eleuthera will live up to the hype. Continue reading