Compass Box Battle of the Titans: The Circus vs The General Reviews

Once again I’ve been too quite in the last few months on the blog, but since the Jewish holiday season ended last week and I’ve recently celebrated my birthday, I have no more excuses and it’s time to resume activity on the blog. I’ve decided to start with some premium drams that I was very late to the party with them: The Circus and The General, both are matured and aged blends from the Compass Box.

But the blame for such a late review of The Circus doesn’t falls solely on my shoulders. The sample that was sent to me didn’t arrive and has disappeared from what looked like a tampered or damaged parcel. Damn those thirsty Post Office workers! But thanks to #whiskyfabric and its far reaching arms, I’ve eventually managed to secure myself a replacement sample.

But since a lot of time passed until I got the replacement sample, the review got delayed and delayed and I was also less inclined to post a review of The Circus by itself because I didn’t publish a review of their previous old aged blend, The General, and so I thought to myself: why not review them both? Taste and review The General and The Circus head to head and see who’s the better of the two?

So let’s start with the Circus. It’s part of Compass Box previous releases wave (along with The Enlightnment) and it’s a blended whisky. Unlike previous releases, the Ingredients list here doesn’t reveal a lot of information – we don’t know which distilleries were used here and what’s the malt/grain ratio, only that the the old blended whisky parcels are 85% of the final result and that the marrying casks are sherry butts:

the circus ingredients

Compass Box The Circus (49%, 2490 bottles, €219.90/$240 )

compass box the circus

Photo credit:

Nose: Fruity with citrus, dried berries and stone fruit notes. Also a lots of coconut and other grain notes, old wood polish, wood shaves, vanilla, a bit of malt, some sweet fruits donuts, almonds and slight nuttiness and it’s such a soft nose, like a baby’s bottom!

Palate: Soft, mature and full of heavy grain impact, acetone, wood and polish but also a nice and not too shabby sherry impact, honey, sweet dry fruit, demerara sugar, spices with lots of white pepper and ending with another wave of grain notes of glue, polish and wood shaves. The ending is dry.

Finish: Soft, short medium length, lingering weak sweet fruit, wood shaves, gentle bitterness with dried berries wit heavy dose of raspberry.


Now let’s check the previous aged blended whisky. It was released back in November 2013 and has just two ingredients: a 33 year old whisky parcel and another one older than it, although persistent rumors says it’s 40 year old whisky parcel. By now you can barely find it and nowhere near the original retail price, but I heard it’s one of their best releases if not THE best release. Let’s check it out then!

Compass Box The General (53.4%, 1698 bottles ,€443)

compass box the general

Photo credit:

Nose: Old stuff, dusty library, dark chocolate and there’s a deep hue of gently sweeten red fruit but not overpowering. Grain is barely felt but  over time some whiffs of glue, acetone and grain smoothness shows up along with stronger red berries notes. A killer nose!

Palate: Oh so smooth! developing spiciness, old sherry, berries, chocolate, honey, grain is more noticeable here with some acidity, varnish and glue but just a bit towards the end, enriching the entire experience.

Finish: Medium length, gentle bitterness, grain, aftertaste of espresso, lingering old sherry impact of berries and chocolate.


Thoughts: With all due respect to The Circus, and there’s a lot of respect here because it’s one damn fine blend, soft and fruity on a big backbone of old grain, The General is the no doubt winner. It blows away every other blend I have ever tasted out and I can easily say it’s the best blend I ever had and if you see a bottle on some dusty shelf, don’t hesitate and adopt it ASAP.

(The General sample provided by Compass Box Whisky)


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