scotch whisky review

Compass Box The Circus Whisky Review

I’ve pretty much liked everything I’ve tasted from Compass Box.  Oddly enough, they have all been limited release whiskies.  I’ve never tried anything from their core lineup.  Hey!  I said it was odd.  Don’t worry, I’ll get to their core lineup soon enough.  In the meantime…

Compass Box’s The Circus.

One of my favorite whiskies of all time, not just one from Compass Box, is The General.  That one was made up of two parcels of very old blended whisky.  There was just a little to go around, and unfortunately I didn’t get to pick up a bottle.  Thankfully, one of my whisky buddies sent over a sample for me to try, and it was a dreamy whisky.  Again, one of my favorites.

Now, John Glaser has released his latest blend – The Circus.  Like The General, it’s also a blended whisky made from a couple of parcels of old blended scotch whisky, alongside a blended grain whisky and malt.  The Circus is bottled at 49% abv for a price of about $275.  There isn’t a lot of the stuff.  Only 2,490 bottles have been released.

While Compass Box isn’t allowed to give the ages of the whiskies, they did provide a breakdown of what’s in the bottle:

  • 57.2% blended whisky parcel 1 matured in a refill sherry butt.
  • 26% blended grain whisky matured in a refill sherry butt.
  • 15.4% malt whisky from Benrinnes matured in a first fill sherry butt.
  • 1.4% blended whisky parcel 2 matured in a refill sherry butt.

We aren’t sure what those parcels of blended whisky are comprised of, or where they come from.  Something else of note is the exclusive use of sherry butts.  I believe most Compass Box releases feature mostly ex-bourbon casks.  I could be totally wrong here.  So a  Compass Box sherry monster?  Let’s see how it fares.

The nose offers a burst of rich sherried fruit and plums, followed by honeyed malt and dark toffee with a touch of aged vanilla and toasted oak.  There’s an initial sweetness on entry.  Sweet brown sugar, dark fruits, citrus peel and dark chocolate fill the palate.  The long finish leaves behind a honeyed, spiced fruit.

This one was sweet, fruity and showed some age, but not in a bad way.  The grain whiskies kept it on the lighter side up front, and the richness developed towards the end.  I won’t compare it to The General, as it’s a totally different whisky in nature.  Apples and oranges, so to speak.  The Circus is one of the more unique blended whiskies I’ve tasted in a while.  Now, to find a bottle…

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

Bowmore Devil’s Cask III Single Malt Scotch Review

I picked up a bottle of Bowmore Devil’s Cask III on the recommendation of friend and fellow whisky enthusiast Kurt Maitland, who regularly contributes to as Deputy Editor.  In fact, you can read his review of this whisky here.   

Bowmore Devil’s Cask III is the third release in the Devil’s Cask series.  The first two were aged ten years in first fill sherry casks.  This third edition carries no age statement.  However, it does mention the whiskies inside the bottle were aged in first fill Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, hence the “double the devil” moniker.  I’d love to think the maturation in sherry casks is the sole reason for this deep ruby color, but the label doesn’t state whether this is natural color or not.  The good news is there is no chill filtering and we have cask-strength bottling.  56.7% abv to be exact.  The pricing situation is strange.  In the U.S., Bowmore Devil’s Cask III is available for about $85-$90.  Across the pond the price jumps up considerably.

A peated Islay whisky matured solely in sherry casks?  Yes please.

The nose is an intricate dance of sherried fruit and peated malt. Brine, blood orange and a touch of vanilla add to the complexity.  There’s lots going on here, but it doesn’t feel busy.  Bowmore’s signature peat coats your tongue after an initial sting of alcohol.  Both stewed red fruits and rich dried fruits emerge from behind a light layer of ashy smoke and vanilla.  Towards the back palate, freshly squeezed orange juice provides a touch of brightness.  The smoke slightly intensifies in the long finish, along with remnants of mulled red wine.

What an outstanding whisky!  It’s rich, but maintains a level of vibrancy.  The peat smoke and sherry cask influence never overpower one another and maintain a beautiful balance.  Thanks to Bowmore for bottling this one at cask strength and not watering it down.  Fantastic stuff.