Tag Archives: Blend

Whisky Review – Big Peat Xmas Edition 2015

Another day in October, another review of a whisky release for the holidays. This time, the latest annual edition of one of the few bottlings that actually admit it’s targeted at Xmas shoppers: Big Peat Xmas Edition and today it’s a review of their new 2015 edition.

Just like the normal Big Peat, it contains malts from various Islay distilleries, and like the previous annual Xmas editions, is bottled at cask strength and this year it’s 53.8%.

Big peat Xmas Edition 2015 (53.8%, £49.95/€48.90 )

Big Peat Christmas 2015Nose: First sniff screams YOUNG! But not all young whiskies are equal so let’s paddle on. Sweet peat and with barely any smoke, malty, lemon, citrus peels, fresh apricots, somehow it feels like a lightweight and fresh whisky, and fresh is the keyword here. Continue reading

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Whisky Review – Compass Box Flaming Heart 5th Edition

Remember Compass Box “This is Not a Luxury Whisky” I reviewed last week? When it was released, to celebrate Compass Box 15th anniversary, there was another whisky release: the 5th edition of Flaming Heart.

Once again, we do get to see what are the ingredients and it and I wish we could see such a list for every whisky. is very interesting composition: old Caol Ila, younger Caol Ila, Large dose of Clynelish and a dash of spicy young highland malt.

flaming heart 5th edition ingredients

 

There are 12,060 bottles of this whisky, bottled at 48.9%, Not chilled-filtered and Natural color. Let’s dive into it.

Compass Box Flaming Heart 5th Edition (48.9%, £99.95/€129.95 )

flaming heart 5th editionNose: Starts very smoky but the smoke subsides and then
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Whisky Review – Compass Box This is not a Luxury Whisky

It’s this time of the year (Holidays, remember?) and here is another new whisky release we review and this time it’s a new release from John Glaser and Compass box. John Glaser is an artist, admit it. he creates unique blends, and Compass box do some special whisky labels (Hedonism Quindecimus as an evidence for both). This time he go farther and uses an external work of art as inspiration for this new whisky, Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the work of René Magritte – Le Trahison des images (The Treachery of Images). This work from 1929 is far more familiar under another name:  Ceci n’est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe).

MagrittePipe

Despite the apparently simple meaning of the painting, for this is not a real pipe but a picture and a visual representation of a pipe, this work did invoke over the years a lot of discussions and philosophy debates and John Glaser and Compass box had decided to have their own take on this subject while focusing on what’s closer to their heart: Whisky.

And how? By releasing a new whisky expression called “This is not a luxury whisky”. Brilliant name for a whisky I tell you! and the label and visual presentation aren’t too shabby.

So, what does it means “Not a Luxury whisky”? Isn’t whisky always a luxury. or is it? what defines luxury? I recall seeing an exhibition in Victoria and Albert Musem called “What is Luxury” and I came out of it with no one single and final answer to that as luxury can be a physical thing, or a cultural thing and it can just be a vague and theoretical concept.

You can endlessly talk and debate on this topic, but I think a different platform may be better place for such endeavors while here, on a whisky blog, we’ll focus on the content of the bottle.

There are 4992 bottles of this ‘not-a-luxury’ whisky, bottled at cask strength of 53.1% and once again Compassbox stretch, bend and test the SWA rules by detailing the ingredients that created this whisky (although not on the bottle):

not a luxury whisky ingredients

It’s quite an interesting list with sherried 19 yo Glen Ord being the main ingredient taking 79% of the recipe (and sherried Glen Ord isn’t something you’d find on the shelves as single malt – I think I’d like to try something like that!). Also two 40 yo grains from Strathclyde (10.1%) and Girvan (6.9%) and a dash (relatively) of 30 yo Caol Ila (4.0%).

Let’s check if this whisky is a luxury (or not)…

Compass Box This is not a Luxury Whisky (53.1%, £150/€209.99)

this is not a luxury whiskyNose: First there’s a whiff of smoke. Then there’s some grain sweetness, coconut and plastic. Also makes an appearance: musk. It took a while but the sherried Glen ord eventually showed up with dash of flowers and sweet dried fruit note that got stronger with every passing minute, leading to a rich fancy nose going from smoky grain to rich sherried malt. Continue reading

Whisky Review: Springbank Spirit of Freedom 30 Year Old

Too many Springbank tasting notes with cobwebs on them so let’s have a Springbank week here on the blog. We’ll start with a blend, Spirit of Freedom 30 Year Old, which isn’t a true Springbank but is produced by J & A Mitchell, the owners of Springbank and probably contains some old Springbank spirit in it.

Spirit of Freedom was released to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 which is a big and important milestone for Scotland (read about it  at Wikipedia as we’re focusing on whisky here :))

It is composed of 75% malt whisky (from five distilleries, one from each whisky region and I assume Springbank is the logical choice to represent Campbeldown region) and 25% grain whisky, from a mix of bourbon and sherry casks.

Springbank Spirit of Freedom 30yo (46%, 2014 bottles, £86.2)

Spirit Freedom 30Nose: A very relaxed nose as the maturation age is noticeable here. The nose harbors some herbal edge, old sweet grain, banana, sweet honey, sweet kumquat, coconut and dare I say there’s even some wax note here. Continue reading

Whisky Review – Hibiki 17

It was a very embarrassing day in the BTC 2014 competition as I scored zero points, again… So I have the urge to run away from it to the other side of the world. too bad that I cannot do that so instead I’ll settle for reviewing something different. How about we review a Japanese whisky and not a single malt but a blend?

Hibiki 17 is the mid range expression in the Hibiki blends line up from Suntory which also produce Yamazaki and Hakushu whiskies.

Hibiki 17 (43%, £89 / €115)

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Whisky Review – Compass Box Great King Street: Glasgow Blend

Along with the Lost Blend which I reviewed yesterday, Compass Box also introduced the second permanent whisky in their Great King Street range – The Glasgow Blend.

Mind you, it’s the second permanent whisky in this line but we had two  experimental releases during the summer of 2013 which the public was supposed to vote on which one it preferred to guide Compass Box toward the winning formula.

In my review of those experimental releases (see it here), I declared it was hard to choose between them; One was a peaty whisky and the other was sherried whisky but eventually I voted for the sherried one. But neither one match the description of Glasgow Blend, so I chatted with Chris Maybin of Compass Box on this subject.

What were the poll results on the experimental releases last year?

There was 16 votes between the two after around 3000 votes. The smoky version won but really the result was pretty much 50/50.

How did the experimental releases from last year impact this blend?

The Experimental releases impacted the make up of this blend a great deal. Tasting them and the feedback we received helped us realise that both smokey and sherry Experimental styles had a delicious character – indeed both were very well received – but both possibly lacked a little something. That got us thinking that perhaps we could combine them to get the best of both worlds!

Did you used one of them as the basis to the final Glasgow blend?

No, in concept, Glasgow Blend is very much a combination of both of them. The challenge was to find the right balance of smoke, sherry, fruity malt and sweetness from the grain. Despite the work we had done on the two Experimentals, it took a year and over 100 prototype recipes before we reached something we were happy with.


So here we are with the chosen blend formula, a smoky sherried blend to serve as a sibling to the original Great King Street blend. It is made from approximately 67% malt whisky from the regions of Islay, the Highlands and Speyside and 33% Lowland grain whisky from a Fife distillery (i.e. Cameronbridge). It is aged in a combination of first-fill Sherry casks, first-fill and refill ex-Bourbon barrels with a small portion of new French oak finishing.

Compass Box Great King Street: Glasgow Blend (43%, 50cl, £27.45)

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Whisky Review – Compass Box The Lost Blend

Xmas and new year is almost upon us and many new whiskies are being released to the market and even Compass Box and John Glaser joins the party with two new releases: The Lost Blend and The Great King st. Glasgow Blend so we’ll review them today and tomorrow, starting with The Lost Blend.

The Lost Blend name is inspired by the O. Henry story of the same name which features two business partners who try to recreate a blend of different spirits with close to supernatural properties. And what is the compass box blend which John Glaser was trying to recreate?

Here’s what John Glaser said on their own lost blend:

“In 2001, we created our first single malt blend which we called Eleuthera. It was an elegant marriage of approximately 80% unpeated Highland and 20% peaty Islay single malts. Alas, after 3 years, we were suddenly no longer able to obtain one of the key whiskies required for the recipe so, sadly, we retired Eleuthera in 2004. Quietly, I have been looking for whiskies that we could use to bring it back, even if temporarily, but without any luck. Until now.”

So John found what he was looking for and it was a combination of 80% of Clynelish and Allt-a-Bhainne and 20% Caol Ila. We don’t know how old are the spirits (no exact age was given) and what casks (although I guess it’s ex-bourbon casks judging by the whisky color) so lets hop directly to the tasting notes:

The Compass Box Lost Blend (46%, 12018 bottles, £77.54)

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