Along with No Name I reviewed yesterday, there was another interesting and engimatic Compass Box release coming out last year called Phenomenology with the slogan “Phenomenology – There’s No Right or Wrong”.
Phenomenology is a school of thought in psychology that focuses on
phenomena, or, the experiences that we get from our senses–what we
see, taste, smell, etc. It is a way of thinking about ourselves and the
very personal, subjective nature of experience.
True to its name, when Phenomenology was initially released, it was an enigmatic whisky with no recipe nor official tasting notes released, but it’s been months since the release and by now we do have the recipe information:
It doesn’t happen too often that you get to see Glenlossie and Tamdhu as the main ingredients of a whisky costing £150.
Compass Box Phenomenology (46%, 7908 btls, £143/€147.5)
Nose: Fruity pears, apples, salt and subtle peat smoke, sweet oak spices, fizzy minerals, sour hard candies.
When Compass Box released No Name last October, there was a lot of buzz around it. It is the peatiest whisky ever from Compass Box with 75.5% of it hailing from Ardbeg. Take into account that the Ardbeg portion carries an unpublished but still obtainable (via email) age statement that wasn’t seen from indie Ardbegs in ages (although recently a few indie Ardbegs popped up with similar age) and you can see why people were enamored by it. And let’s not forget the sexy black presentation and the added wink in the form of the ‘No Name’ name.
So the large portion in this blended whisky, 75.5% comes from Ardbeg (from re-charred barrels,) 10.6% comes from Caol Ila (refill barrels), 13.4% from Clynelish (re-charred hogsheads) and measly 0.5% of Compass box Highland malt blend (which is 60% Clynelish and 20% of both Dailuaine and Teaninich) finished in Compass Box’s heavy toasted French Oak hybrid cask for 6 months.
15,000 bottles were produced, bottled at 48.9% without added color or chill filtering.
Compass Box No Name (48.9%, £98.00/€98,90)
Nose: Very clean peat, lemon and lime, lots of smoke and a bit of tar. Quite fatty with oil wax, fruitiness lead by pears, red apples and some peaches. Continue reading
A bit late but better now than never, here’s my review on Compass Box Spice Tree Extravangaza that was released a while ago.
This is a special edition to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Compass Box’s regular Spice Tree. In short, they use the same concept but used older whisky and with added sherry cask influence. As you can see from the ingredients list below, it’s 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine and 20% Teaninch. If you want to know how old is each whisky, just go to the official page here and press the “Request Recipe” button, but I will tell you this is not a young whisky.
Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza (46%, £92.45/€114,95/$89.99)
Nose: Balanced but also spicy with vanilla topping. Then freshness, fragrance and rich body, getting sweeter, some dryness and wine tannins, dried berries, somewhat dusty. After a while sweeter and stronger red fruity notes, a dash of dried orange peels. Lovely nose! Continue reading
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:
- 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!
- 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)
Nose: 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
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:
Compass Box The Circus (49%, 2490 bottles, €219.90/$240 )
Photo credit: thewhiskyexchange.com
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):
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)
Nose: 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
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.
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 )
Nose: Starts very smoky but the smoke subsides and then