Tag Archives: Compass Box

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. Continue reading

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: thewhiskyexchange.com

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Compass Box Enlightenment Review

The new Compass Box Enlightenment whisky is another step in their campaign for Scotch Whisky transparency which follows the uproar that accompanied their previous releases.

In case you forgot, when Compass Box released Flaming Heart 5th edition and This is Not a Luxury Whisky in late 2015, they also included the full recipe for the whiskies including the whiskies ages. However, seems like it was breaking UK and EU regulations and therefor, following a request/pep-talk from SWA, the ages we removed from the website and the marketing materials and the new Soctch Whisky transparency campaign was launched with other distilleries backing it up (like Bruichladdich).

This is what John Glaser and Compass Box has to say on Enlightenment:

Inspired by the writers, philosophers and scientists of the A ge of
Enlightenment it sets out to encourage the industry to consider the
absurdity of a system that prevents producers from telling consumers
exactly what has gone into the whiskies they are drinking.

A worthy cause if you ask me! Yes, I’m an avid supporter of this campaign and totally for full information transparency. Here’s the ingredients list of the whisky, albeit without the ages (but I hope Mr. Glaser would tell you if you meet him):

compass box enlightenment ingredients

So what do we have here? Clynelish making up the bulk of this whisky, 59% Highlands whisky and 41% Speyside whisky. As usual with Compass Box whiskies, it’s not chill-filtered and with natural colour and 5,922 bottles were made.

Compass Box Enlightenment (46%, £59.45/€64,95)

compass box enlightenmentNose: Strong waxy note at first (from the Clynelish), vanilla, some muted oak spices that smells like they stop the sweetness in its track, floral edge and then it’s mostly soft oak spices. After a while the sweetness is back along with some green bark. Continue reading

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 – 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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