Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe Review

Last week I posted my Whisky Of the Year 2016 review (Kilkerran 12) but I think that 2016 deserves a little more. While not a full year review or recap, here are a few points on 2016 whisky market:

  • 2016 was not the year that the whisky bubble burst. In fact, I’m not so sure we’re close to this point as I thought a year ago.
  • World (AKA non Scotch) whisky is rising steady, headed by the Irish whisky boom.
  • Volatile Markets has somewhat stabilized (Surprise!), providing boost to the earnings of Scotch industry.
  • Transparency movement gained a lot of momentum but lost most of it to the Brexit surprise.
  • The Younger and Pricier whisky movement gained a strong traction especially with the indie bottlers (and now we see 3 year old single casks bottlings from independent bottlers in 2017)
  • Prices are still on the rise, especially for high-end whiskies and indie bottlers from popular distilleries such as Laphroaig, Springbank, etc.
  • We see more premium/high-end whisky releases with price tags that keeps them outside the reach of regular whisky connoisseurs
  • Because Single Malt is so expensive, the Single grain releases are getting more popular (and pricier).

The whisky reviewed here today is Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe and I choose it because I think it’s the epitome of the current whisky market state. Don’t you believe me, follow this logic:

  1. Compass box is spearheading the transparency movement (along with Bruichladdich). It did hit a snag with Brexit but still they went ahead with a brilliant move: they interpreted SWA rules as “we can’t publish whisky age but you can ask privately” and so they implemented a mechanism where you can ask for the whisky age info via a simple form and you get back an email with all the details within a few seconds. All automated of course! Try it for you self: go to the Three Year Old Deluxe page here http://www.compassboxwhisky.com/whiskies/index.php?id=19 and press the “Request Age Info” link, fill in your email and voila!
  2. Now that you know the ages of the different whiskies composing this blend (if you don’t know, go back to #1 and follow the instruction there!) and understand this whisky is Compass Box way of doing the finger at SWA, you’ll notice it covers the Younger and Pricier movement (It’s a 3 year old officially after all) and the High price for older whiskies item as well (now that you know the age of each whisky in it).

But how’s the whisky? Is Mr Glaser magic working here?

Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe  (49.2%, 3,282 bottles, £185/€199.90)

compass-box-3-year-old-deluxeNose: Sweet and waxy at first and it’s not surprising with over 90% Clynelish in the mix. Some very gentle peat and smoke fly-by, honey, lots of vanilla. Funnily enough it doesn’t feel mature to its age (You did look up the components age by now, right?) A few minutes later, spices show up. Very talisker-y with pepper, also beeswax, dust and minerals. Green herbals, a touch of perfume and deeper sweet apples and pears.

Palate: Mineral, wax, deep throat white pepper, honey, green herbs, a touch of mint, slight oak impact, stone fruit, peaches, peat smoke towards the end.

Finish: lingering honey and peat, oak spices, thyme and other green herbs, a wisp of mint, and dry waxiness.

Thoughts: Leaving aside what this whisky represent (Compass Box vs SWA) and the way it mirrors the state of the Scotch whisky Market, It’s very good blended malt, really. It is Clyyenlish with extra spiciness and a touch of smoke, really lovely with the spirit leading the way here and not the casks, despite the older components age. In fact, with over 99% of the liquid being very matured but at the same time lacks the cask impact, it’s particularity another subtle symbolism of being younger than it should be. Or if you prefer it in another way: Compass Box winks at us at the expense of SWA and the current market state. Brilliant move Mr. Glaser!

(Official sample provided by Compass Box)

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