compass box

Compass Box The Double Single Whisky Review

A lot of blended whisky is sold around the world.  A lot.  The majority is composed of dozens of different component grain and malt whiskies.  It leaves the whiskies palatable.  Perhaps more importantly, the use of many whiskies allows for consistency from batch to batch.  If a particular whisky is in short supply, blenders will slightly change the blend ratios or even add other component whiskies to make their blended whisky.

Compass Box’s John Glaser thought it would be interesting to strip a blended whisky to its core. Enter The Double Single – a blended whisky composed on one grain whisky from Girvan and one malt whisky from Glen Elgin.  Glaser used 72% Glen Elgin from re-charred bourbon hogsheads and 28% Girvan from re-charred bourbon barrels.  The Double Single is a very small bottling of 5,838 bottles.  If this were a large scale release, I doubt this whisky would be a reality because of the availabilty of the two component whiskies used.

So… how is it?

Pretty good, actually.  The fruit-forward nose features crisp orchard fruit, with an emphasis on apples and pears.  Honey, vanilla, oat cereal and floral notes round off the nose.  The whisky is initially sweet on the palate, with hints of rich honeyed malt, spiced apples & pears, and ripe apricot.  Some baking spice on the midpalate mingles with a splash of grapefruit juice.  A hint of oak on the back of the palate rounds out this rich, fruity whisky.  The finish is rather clean, with honey, sweet malt and citrus.

I’ve quite enjoyed just about everything I’ve tasted from Compass Box.  No surprise here, but I like this one.  It’s concurrently crisp and rich, with enough complexity to keep me going back for more.  Here’s one bottle I’ll have to keep a lookout for.  Highly recommended.  8.5/10

Thanks to Compass Box for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Spice Tree Extravaganza Blended Malt Scotch Review

Ten years ago, John Glaser of Compass Box started adding oak staves to barrels of whisky to spice up the maturation process for what would be his Spice Tree blend.  The method is not new, as wine makers use oak staves all the time.  However in the Scotch whisky world, that was a no-no.  The SWA banned Glaser from utilizing this method.  He ended up using a different legal method for his Spice Tree blend involving toasted French oak barrel heads.

A decade later, Compass Box is releasing a limited edition version of the blend simply named Spice Tree Extravaganza.  Working within the spicy flavor profile of the standard Spice Tree, Glaser kicks things up a notch by adding sherry-cask matured and older malt whiskies.  Spice Tree Extravaganza is bottled at 46% abv for a suggest retail price of $140.  Only 12,240 bottles are available worldwide.

The nose captures the rich, spicy character of Spice Tree but adds a sherry kick.  This is thanks to sherry cask-matured Glen Ord and Benrinnes that make up close to 50% of this whisky.  I get lots of clove, sherry, vanilla and toffee-sweet malt.  In the background is a bit of dry oak and cinnamon bark.  The palate offers a blast of baking spices, toasted malt, and mulled wine, with hints of vanilla cream and blood orange zest.  The finish is long, with spiced red fruits and oak notes.

Spice Tree Extravaganza is an interesting twist on the standard bottlings of Spice Tree.  This limited edition blended malt whisky brings that signature spice, while adding nice sherry and older malt elements,which in turn provide more layers of complexity to unlock and enjoy.  8.5/10

Thanks to Compass Box for the sample!  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Three Year Old Deluxe Blended Malt Scotch Review

I picture a person who knows little about Scotch roaming the whisky aisle at their favorite shop.  This person scans the shelf and comes across a whisky called “Three Year Old Deluxe.”  I can’t imagine the expression on the person’s face when he/she looks down and discovers the $300 price tag.  “$300 for a 3-year-old whisky?!?”

Yep, $300 for a 3-year-old whisky.  That’s what Compass Box suggests the price be set at.  Nuts right?  Actually, the price is just where it needs to be.  Obviously, it’s no ordinary 3-year-old whisky.  Only 0.4% of this whisky is three years old.  The remaining 99.6% is made of whisky MUCH older than that.  Compass Box’s Three Year Old Deluxe is turning an old whisky regulation on its head – whisky makers can only disclose the youngest component whisky in their blend.  Compass Box’s head honcho, John Glaser, wants to tell you what’s in his whisky, and even campaigned to get this law changed.  

Glaser consulted his lawyers and received some advice.  In a statement, Glaser said “While we must not actively promote the ages of the components used in our blends, we can provide information when we are asked for it by interested consumers.”

So put simply, ask and you shall receive.  I did just that, but I’ve been asked not to publicly release the information.  According to an interview I had with Glaser recently, my posting the information could be perceived as promoting, which could prompt a complaint by an Scotch Whisky Association member.

Onto the whisky.  Three Year Old Deluxe is made of whiskies from “peaty malt whisky distilled on the Isle of Skye” (read: Talisker) and Clynelish, and bottled at 51.6% abv.  The aromatic nose features spiced tree fruit, clove, sherried malt and some vanilla bean, along with a hint of white pepper.  Taste-wise, the signature waxy fruitiness of Clynelish comes through in a big way.  First, there’s a richness and sweetness from the older components.  The minuscule amount of 3-year-old Clynelish adds a bit of vibrancy.  A bit of clove, vanilla creme brûlée, and spice lead to a whiff of smoke on the back end.  The medium-length finish is a touch spicy, sweet and smoky.

Fantastic stuff here.  The blending of Clynelish and Talisker make for a rich, sweet, fruity and somewhat smoky whisky.  If that flavor combination appeals to you, and you have a $300 to spend on a whisky, call your favorite store now to reserve a bottle.  There’s not a lot of this stuff to go around – only about 3,200 bottles are available worldwide.  Three Year Old Deluxe makes the shortlist as one of my favorite whiskies this year.  9.5/10

Thanks to Compass Box for the sample!  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.