Distillery/Brand: Compass Box | ABV: 48.9% | Colour: Young Sauternes
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 91
As I write this review a few days ago Compass Box launched a much needed transparency campaign. This was basically to get whisky enthusiasts from around the world to sign a petition urging the SWA to allow for greater transparency in this increasingly muddy industry.
While I dutifully did my part we all know what petitions like these really accomplish. A fleeting awareness of the issue followed by vague promises from the powers that be and, well, pretty much nothing after that. Like when everyone signed a petition to get Joseph Kony arrested. Now few even remember who he is.
Though there has been some good to come out of this. Major player Bruichladdich has promised to stand behind Compass Box and promised complete transparency about the Laddie. I can only hope that more brands follow suit and play their part. But that remains to be seen.
What does this have to do with my review? Well, the whole fracas was created thanks to SWA asking Compass Box to take down the recipe for two of their blends, This Is Not A Luxury Whisky & The Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary Edition.
Frankly, I think this whole drama did more good for Compass Box, and these two blends in particular, than the unnamed drinks giant that registered their complaint to the SWA in the first place. I for one couldn’t wait to get my hands on these whiskies and taste for my self what I was not allowed to find out!
And so here we are.
I’m a huge fan of The Flaming Heart and loved the 10th Anniversary Edition and this one is also nothing short of beautiful.
Here are the whiskies that have gone into the mix : 27.1% Caol Ila (re-fill American hogshead), 24.1% Clynelish (rejuvenated American hogshead), 10.3% of an un-named Highland Malt (New French Oak Hybrid Barrel) and 38.5% Caol Ila (from another re-fill American hogshead).
My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 48.9% ABV
Nose: Lime. Smoke. Touch of peat. Touch of oak. Spicy. Fennel. Green tobacco. Nice and crisp. White melon rind. Quite savory. Some cumin. Like a spice rack. Green grape. Some salt. Fishnets. Green apple. It’s controlled. I can very easily tell where one whisky component starts and the other one ends. And that’s just confirming the art of the master blender. Solid. 23/25
Palate: Sharp. Whisp of smoke. Peat. Salt. Ground coffee beans. Oak. So much coconut. White pepper. Quite drying as it goes mid-palate. Citrus. That lime again. That apple. A little sooty. Quite herbal. Green berries. Once again quite beautifully composed. All the profiles are individually recognisable yet work brilliantly together. 23/25
Finish: Medium to long. Oak. Drying. Sea washed pebbles. And the tiniest hint of something bitter. 22/25
Overall Comments: What can I say? John Glaser has a habit of hitting it out of the park more than any other whisky maker I know. And this is no exception. To take four good quality whiskies and make them simply work. I just wish the finish could have been a touch better for this to be flawless. But I’m happy with what I’ve got.