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
Better late than never but it’s about time I’ll check out the latest batch of Scallywag Cask Strength. I had the magical opportunity to be at Douglas Laing HQ when the original Scallyway was released and I loved it so lets check it out and see if this batch of the Cask Strength (4800 bottles) manages to keep up to the high standard of the original.
Douglas Laing Scallywag Cask Strength Batch #2 (54.1%, £45.98/€54,90)
Nose: Malty which isn’t surprising as I assume it will be young, and energetic (thanks to those extra %), strong sherry impact, dried berries, sultanas, white pepper, demerara sugar, vanilla pods are scatter through, quite lively and punchy. Continue reading
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
Today we’ll have a review of a new whisky release targeted at the x-mas/new year holidays shoppers. This time it’s another special edition from Wemyess Malts, Kiln Embers. Kiln Embers release follows Velvet Fig, its very successful predecessor, which I liked a lot and so I had high hopes for this one as well.
This time, Wemyss Malts took different approach and direction, almost 180 degrees of Velvet Fig, going west toward Islay and peat. Yes, it’s true they already have a peated whisky in their portfolio (Peat chimney), but this special edition boast double amount of smoky Islay malt. Let’s check what we have in store here.
Wemyss Malts Kiln embers (46%, 12000 bottles, £32.92/€39.90)
Nose: A very malty nose, smoky but the main note for me here was real young, almost new make like, peated spirit. Citrus and lemon, very young and very soft. Continue reading
The NAS rage continues as more NAS whiskies are announced. Talisker Skye, Glenlivet Founders Reserve (which actually replaces the Glenlivet 12yo in some markets!) and more. The NAS topic was already discussed in length on Whisky Gospel and on other blogs but there’s one aspect I didn’t see covered – what about Independent bottlers?
As the demand to single malts soar, even in the current market climate, the stock of aged barrels dwindle down. Distilleries have access to their own warehouse and therefor release NAS whiskies so they can have flexible usage of their own stock and use more young casks instead of aged casks. But Independent bottlers don’t have such free access (unless they pay for it) and they too don’t want to overuse their aged casks which they bought when prices weren’t as high as nowadays. The solution? Vatted malt releases – stick with malts, mix different casks from different distilleries and release a new whisky to satisfy the market demands!
We’ve seen many Vatted malt releases over the last 2 years, with three of them coming from Douglas Laing with the latest one being an Islands themed malt named Rock Oyster.
Rock Oyster promise lots of maritime, sweet peat, smoke, honey and pepper. Shall we put it to the test?
Douglas Laing Rock Oyster (46.8%, £35.95/€43.49 )
Nose: Creamy malt, chimney smoke, peat, sweet lemon cheesecake, sea air. All in all very balanced and cheesy. Continue reading
Today is Christmas and billions of people around the world celebrate the the holidays season with Christmas and New Year Eve in tow. So let’s go ahead and review a matching (in spirit) dram for the holidays season: Wemyss Malts Velvet Fig.
Velvet Fig is a NAS (no age statement) vatted malt, meaning it’s blended using only single malts, aged entirely in Oloroso Sherry casks. It’s a limited edition as only 6,000 bottles were produced.
Happy holidays to you!
Wemyss Malts Velvet Fig (NAS, 46%, £38.95)
Nose: At first it’s malty and with some young spirit notes (almost new make). Then comes the sherry impact with light sweetness of dried fruits glazed with vanilla. After a minute or two, there are indeed sweet figs, dates, and the smell gets more sherried with cloves, dash of cinnamon and heavy concentrated nutmeg (almost bitter), then another wave of malt and vanilla (must be some active american oak casks in there) and chocolate. Continue reading
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)