Compass Box The Story of the Spaniard Review

Last month Compass Box introduced a new permanent release in their core range called The Story of the Spaniard. In the official press release there’s a nice story about John Glaser and his experiences while traveling in south Spain and this is the result – a blended malt of Highland malt whiskies aged in Spanish Sherry and Spanish red wine casks and some ‘standard’ (by Compass Box standards at least) casks to balance it all. Here’s the recipe as officially published by Compass Box:

The Story of the Spaniard recipe

As you can see, in this initial batch (bottled June 2018), 48% of the whiskies have been aged in ex-Sherry casks and 25% in ex-Spanish red wine casks and a heavy dose from Deanston distillery and Compass Box unique Highland malt blend. If you want more details like exact distilleries and whiskies ages, just contact them and ask.

The Story of the Spaniard was bottled at 43%, but it wasn’t chill filtered and no caramel was added.

Compass Box The Story of the Spaniard (43%, £49.95/€44.95/$54.99)

Nose: Soft and rich, red wine tannins, malt pudding, strawberries and raspberries, soft spiciness with oak spice, white pepper and cinnamon. Honey cake and after a while a big coating of citrus peels. Continue reading

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Invergordon 44 Year Old ‘The Future of Whisky – The Future’ Review

The last part in ‘The Future of Whisky’ trio that was bottled for The Whisky Show last month is a Single Grain Scotch Whisky from Invergordon distillery that stands for ‘The Fututre’ in the series.

The Past was Ben Nevis 21 and the present is Ledaig 12 and ‘The Future’ means it’s what the folks in The Whisky Exchange think the future of whisky will be: old grain. But I think they are wrong.

I know that old grain whisky is far cheaper than single malt whisky when the age counter is rising above 20 (hey, even young grain whisky is cheaper than comparable malt whisky) and for people who look for a suitable aged bottle to celebrate their birthday once they are over 30 year old, it’s far more logical to go for single grain and its cheaper price tag. There’s a reason that it’s cheaper – the process is more efficient and basically strips the resulted new make from most of its origin flavor and it tends to be quite neutral, so you pay for it being cheap.

Also, we should remember that the prices for old single grain whiskies are on the rise as well as they more or less (probably more) doubled in the last 3-4 years. Bottlers and Distilleries got smart and started reserving more old stock towards single grain bottles.

What I think the future of whisky will be is younger whisky. We already see that youth movement with independent bottlers and some official bottlings and this trend will intensify and this market segment will have the highest growth rate. Until the next market correction (or the return of the whisky loch).

And still, there is market for older whisky with their heavy price tag, just like with this Invergordon which was distilled back in 1974 and bottled earlier this year. There are 246 bottles at 51.6%. So how did this Hogshead performed

Invergordon 44 Year Old ‘The Future of Whisky – The Future’ (51.6%, £250/€294,90)

Nose: Old (and not so old) grain notes with wood glue, polish, varnish, vanilla and caramel, pencil shavings. After a few minutes there’s perfume and depth, fruitiness with pears and peaches, nuttiness.

Continue reading

Ledaig 12 Year Old ‘The Future of Whisky – Present Future’ Review

Yesterday which is the past, we checked out the ‘Past Future’ bottling from ‘The Future of Whisky’ trio which was bottled for the 10th Whisky Show last month in London.

Today (which is the present, yes?), we’re checking the ‘Present Future’ bottling. This Ledaig 12 Year Old (also from Sherry Butt), represent “what we presently think the future will be”.

So they think that big, flavourful smoky whiskies will be prominent and popular in the near future.

But there’s a slight problem with this assumption as 10-12 Year Old sherried Ledaig bottles are already very popular within large (and fast growing) whisky drinkers audience for the last few years, but if we’re talking about their plans to conquer the world, it may explain it.

This specific Ledaig was charged from a Sherry Butt that yielded 636 bottles at 58.4% (and some bottles are still available to purchase at the time I write this post), lets check it out!

Ledaig 12 Year Old ‘The Future of Whisky – Present Future’ (58.4%, £79.95)

Nose: Strong sweet earthy peat smoke, Very Ledaig-y peat profile. Salty, sea breeze and waves on beach, sweet dried fruit and dried sour berries lurks behind the smoke screen and then comes the chocolate. After a few minutes it’s nuttier, tarry and with more chocolate-y and sweetness. Continue reading

Ben Nevis 21 Year Old ‘The Future of Whisky – Past Future’ Review

During the 10th Whisky Show in London (organized by the Whisky Exchange) that took place a few weeks ago, a set of three show bottles were released under a special celebratory theme for the 10th anniversary: ‘The Future of Whisky’.

The three limited editions are from Ben Nevis, Ledaig and Invergordon and those bottles have 3D lenticular label, giving a feel of depth and movement when you move the bottle around, very cool!

Today we’re checking out the Ben Nevis 21 Year Old which served as the ‘Past Future’ figure in the ‘Future of Whisky’ trio and according to the official words, it’s what they used to think the future of whisky would be (but eventually it wasn’t).

There were 144 (or 146, depends if you believe the PR or the website) bottles, bottled at 47.5% from a Sherry Butt.

Ben Nevis 21 Year Old ‘The Future of Whisky – Past Future’ (47.5%, £130)

Nose: Classic dirty Ben Nevis, lots of fruitiness sprawling around here with a bit of greenery, green tomato vines, kiwi, guava (I hate it but I have a tree in my garden, don’t ask!), green apples, sweet dried fruit, milk chocolate, nutmeg and cacao. Continue reading

Highland Park 18 Year Old ‘Viking Pride’ (Travel Edition) Review

In addition to the new beast-y trio of Travel Retail offerings from Highland Park distillery, there’s also a travel edition of a classic HP icon and staple – Highland Park 18 Year Old. This travel edition is using the same recipe for the standard 18 Year Old but is bottled at marrying strength and isn’t reduced further to 43%.

I reviewed the classic HP 18 Year Old back in 2015 then when I visited the distillery and it will be interesting to see how this new travel edition fares against it and against the 16 Year Old Wings of the Eagle.

Highland Park 18 Year Old ‘Viking Pride’ (Travel Edition) (46%, £98/€107,01)

Nose: Sweet honey, a bit of vanilla, dried berries and after a short while also nutmeg and cinnamon spices. Subtle smoke and charred oak (but less than Wings of the Eagle), lightly sugared preserved berries juice and citrus. Continue reading

Highland Park Wings of the Eagle 16 Year Old (Travel Retail) Review

We’re seeing an improvement trend within the new Highland Park Travel Retail series with Loyality of the Wolf 14 Year Old on the cusp of being real good whisky. Will the next whisky in the series, Highland Park Wings of the Eagle 16 Year Old continue this thread?

Highland Park Wings of the Eagle is 16 Year Old, fully matured in sherry casks (both American and European oak) and bottled at a very respectable ABV of 44.5%. Sounds promising but does it deliver?

Highland Park Wings of the Eagle 16 Year Old (44.5%,€84.90)

Nose: Hello sweetie! This nose is rich and brimming full of sherry notes. Dried red fruit and berries, sweet earthy peat and after a minute or two there’s dark chocolate, espresso, nutmeg and a dash of grounded cinnamon. Well balanced and rich. Continue reading

Highland Park Loyality of the Wolf 14 Year Old (Travel Retail) Review

After checking out the entry level Spirit of the Bear and getting disappointed from it due to the thinness and watery feeling, we’re moving up to the next level with Loyality of the Wolf which thankfully:

  1. Carries an age statement – Distilleries shouldn’t be afraid to expose ages for whiskies with young casks in the mix – Be transparent! Even if there’s a 6 Year Old whisky inside!
  2. Was bottled at a higher ABV of 42.3% which hopefully will provide more substance.

Highland Park Loyality of the Wolf 14 Year Old (42.3%, 1L, 64.90)

Nose: More sherry casks in the mix and therefor it’s a bit more sherried here with more dried fruit, milk chocolate, cinnamon, very clean and somewhat thin (chill filtered?), subtle vanilla. After a few minutes there are plums and sultanas compote, also soursweet fruitiness and canned pineapple. All in all not too bad! Continue reading