Compass Box Hedonism

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Distillery/Brand: Compass Box | ABV: 43% | Colour: Young Sauternes
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 88

Review
I’ve been on a bit of a Compass Box run lately thanks to them being in the spotlight because of the whole transparency issue. I’ve written extensively about that in my other reviews so I think I’m going to park that gripe where I can’t see it any more.

Other than really pretty labels Compass Box has the unique ability of mixing whiskies together and making some damn fine blends. While they usually use single malts Hedonism is 100% blended grain whisky.

Grain whiskies from Cameron Bridge, Carsebridge, Cambus, Port Dundas or Dumbarton are used in putting this blend together and then left to marry in a rejuvenated or re-fill American oak barrel for up to two years.

The result is an extremely delicate, sweet and floral whisky. Those who know me know that I like big strong flavors but once in a while it’s nice to sit back and experience the sweeter, more subtle, side of life.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 43% ABV

Nose: So sweet! Full of fruits. Sweet drops. Candy. Fondant. White chocolate. Hazelnut. Bananas. Touch of oak. Bubble gum. Coconut cream. Vanilla. Lots of perfume. Tangerine. Jeez Louise I have seldom put my nose in something this sweet. I like it but perhaps it’s way too sweet for some. 22/25

Palate: Medium body. Creamy mouthfeel. Coconut cream. Vanilla. Quite oily if you ask me. Robust. Very floral. Touch of oak. Green tobacco. Mild peppers. Bubble gum. Pink Tutti Fruity ice cream. I think I’ve mentioned how sweet this is. 22/25

Finish: Long. Lovely. Very fruity. Vanilla. Oak. 22/25

Overall Comments: OK I know I’ve made it sound like this is literally the sweetest thing you’ll ever put in your mouth (insert dirty thought here) but to be honest it’s delicate and subtle enough to make you really like it. I never liked sweet before but ever since I quite smoking I’ve developed a bit of a sweet tooth. Which probably explains why I like it.

Rating: 88

Compass Box Orangerie

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Distillery/Brand: Compass Box | ABV: 40% | Colour: Pale Straw
Nose: 15 | Taste: 15 | Finish: 12 | Balance: 14 | Rating: 56

Review
OK John Glaser. I know you do some amazing things at Compass Box but seriously WTF is this crap?

First he’s taken malt whisky from Glen Moray and blended it with equal parts grain whisky from Cameronbridge and vatted them in a first-fill American Oak hogshead.

He’s then infused the spirit with hand-zested Navalino orange peel, Indonesian Cassia Bark and Sri Lankan cloves. The result is the most imbalanced, weirdly tasting whisky I’ve ever had. And actually it doesn’t qualify as whisky any more thanks to the stuff he’s dropped in it. I believe it’s actually liqueur now.

I’m sure he had his reasons for doing what he did and I’m sure there are people who really really like this monstrosity. But if I know Glaser’s taste then I’m pretty sure he didn’t like this as well. Don’t believe me? Ask him yourself.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 40% ABV

Nose: Orange. Orange. A bit of orange. Some orange. A touch of orange. Lots of orange. With a side of orange. And, oh yeah, orange. Did I mention orange? No? A dash of orange. 15/25

Palate: That same orange that I got on the nose. Some orange. A touch of orange. A wisp of orange. Lots of orange. Chew on it and you get orange. Becomes more orangey mid-palate. 15/25

Finish: That orange again. With a touch of orange. 12/25

Overall Comments: Orange.

PS For a look at how to make orange zest work with your whisky check out the Amrut Narangi

Rating: 56

Compass Box – This Is Not A Luxury Whisky

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Distillery/Brand: Compass Box | ABV: 53.1% | Colour: Full Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89

Review
A while ago I went on a rant and began cussing out the SWA, and the whisky authorities of the world in general, over the whole Compass Box transparency uproar.

Basically Compass Box, after having truthfully divulged what went in this and the Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary, got told off by the SWA for revealing too much and were forced to take down the recipe. In retaliation myself, and other bloggers, went ahead and posted the exact recipe of both the blends on our sites in the biggest show of mutiny Scotland has ever seen.

Take that William Wallace.

It was, therefore, nice to finally sit down with the whisky that had my malted panties in a twist to see whether it was really worth my ire.

And it was.

Made up using two single malts and two grain whiskies this is proof of John Glasers’ ability as a superb blender. He’s used 79% Glen Ord from a first-fill sherry butt, 10.1% Strathclyde grain whisky from re-fill American hogshead, 6.9% Girvan grain whisky also from re-fill American hogshead and finally 4% Caol Ila re-fill American hogshead.

The result is a huge flavorful whisky with a lot of punch. It’s not up there with The General, mind you, but a fine blend nonetheless.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at a decent 53.1%

Nose: Sweet. Sherry. Oak. Sultanas. Touch of floral. Milk chocolate. Blood oranges. Toffee. Coconut. Hint of almonds. Evolves nicely as it sits. Brown sugar. Ripe bananas. Cocoa beans. Hint of tiramisu. And whisp of smoke. Nice big aromas. I like it. 22/25

Palate: Full bodied. Coffee. Oak. Leather. Smoke. Sherry. Cinnamon. Black peppercorns. Figs. Quite resinous. Tobacco leaf. Dash of peat. Dark chocolate. Coconut. Full body on this one. Coats the mouth nicely. Feels big. 22/25

Finish: Super long. Coffee. Oak. Bitter chocolate. Touch of salt. Quite beautiful. 23/25

Overall Comments: Good, solid, hard working whisky with big flavors. Has its’ minor flaws but makes for an enjoyable ride. Solid finish. I’d happily drink this again.

Rating: 89

Compass Box The General

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Distillery/Brand: Compass Box | ABV: 53.4% | Color: Full Gold
Nose: 24 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 24 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 94

Review
Everyone loves a good story. None more so than me when it comes to whisky. And Compass Box seem to have a ton in store. Given the lopsided state of the whisky industry where stories (read marketing gimmicks) trump whisky quality it is natural to be a bit weary of enticing tales.

But when the spirit inside the bottle just happens to be a cut above so many of the others then a good story makes it that much more special.

Which is precisely the case with this gorgeous and extremely unique blend.

Compass Box, in my opinion, are possibly the finest independent bottlers of blended whisky today. From the Spice Tree to The Flaming Heart and now to this beautifully crafted gem there is seldom an instance when they are sub-par at their craft.

One day a strange thing happened at the Compass Box offices. A cask turned up claiming to be around 33 years of age which included spirit that had already been blended when young and left to mature. Now this is a strange thing to have in ones’ possession.

However, what is stranger still is that another cask was brought into their possession which also happened to have blended spirit in it and this one had been maturing for over 40 years. But no one really knows for sure.

The delightful mystery is that no one really knows what kind of whiskies were in both casks or even what sort of casks they were. So Compass Box did what they do best. They experimented.

They felt the only way this could work was if both the spirits were blended to make one whisky. And so after many tries at the correct ratios they finally arrived at The General. This blend is named after the 1926 Buster Keaton movie where he takes an old steam locomotive (The General) on a wild ride to find the love of his life.

One of 1678 bottles and bottled at 53.4% this is one of the finest blends you can try.

Nose: Equally strong sherry as well as bourbon. Very dry. Lots of oak. A lovely weathered oak at that. Warm chocolate oranges. Clove. Nutmeg. Cinnamon. Wood varnish. Sweet brown sugar. Sandalwood. Maple syrup. Dry autumn leaves and the faintest of peat. A lovely and strong nose.

Palate: Cinnamon. Dark honey. Maple syrup. Chocolate. Apple stew. Hints of cumin. And that beautifully textured wood. So mature and held together with amazing poise.

Finish: Long. Oloroso sherry. Cinnamon. And the mature oak is back.

This is a lovely whisky which seems to have worked as a result of creative blending. And every time I try a different Compass Box release I fall in love with their style a little more.

Rating: 94