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 Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary

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Distillery/Brand: Compass Box | ABV: 48.9% | Colour: Young Sauternes
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 91

Review
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.

Rating: 91