Imagine having products banned for being `too innovative’ by the Scotch Whisky Association.This is Compass Box Distillery, started with a mission to make the world of Scotch a more interesting place.
Founded in 2000 in his kitchen by John Glaser, he setup the Compass Box distillery to be a different kind of Scotch whisky company based on the long-lost model of the Scotch whisky blending house, but with a forward-looking approach and an unrelenting desire to create quality. With several years of experience in the wine trade before moving to the Scotch industry as the marketing director with Johnnie Walker, John Glaser believed that there were too many companies making and selling Scotch whisky the same way.
`Whiskymaker’, is the word they invented that describes someone who wants to make things better, to ask questions, to challenge and to experiment.
From selecting spirits from Scotland’s best distilleries, experimenting with bespoke toast levels and innovative cask designs, to developing flavor profiles never before seen in the world of Scotch, Compass Box is fanatical about quality. They individually sample almost every cask used in the blends and each blend goes through numerous iterations of recipes over several months, before the final blending is returned to the cask to marry anywhere between six months to three years.
Compass Box believes that a Scotch whisky blend made from excellent component whiskies, is something no single distillery can create and can rival the complexities of the very best of single malt whiskies. And considering they are one of the top best-selling and five top trending whiskies in the world’s top 100 bars, by creating entirely new Scotch categories, the mission of making the world of Scotch a more interesting place is well on its way to being accomplished.
The Signature Range showcases the broad spectrum of styles that can be created within Scotch whisky today. Each of the whiskies represents a specific style, making each whisky unique in the category. This range consists of Hedonism; Asyla; Spice Tree; The Peat Monster; and Oak Cross. John Glaser has handpicked casks from Scotland’s finest distilleries to create a range of innovative and delicious whiskies that span every style Scotch whisky has to offer.
THE PEAT MONSTER
46% Abv – 700ml
The idea behind The Peat Monster is to balance beautifully peaty, smoky aromas and flavours with those that are malty and fruity. This is for those who love intensity, flavor and freshness, balance and drinkability.
It combines peaty single malts from the island of Islay and the Isle of Mull with rich, medium Highland whisky. The result is a balanced, highly drinkable peaty blended malt Scotch whisky. One of the best selling whisky from Compass Box, in the recent batches there is even more complexity added from the south shore Islay malt and island malt to enhance peatiness and earthiness. Several months of marrying before bottling allows the flavours of each of the whiskies to knit together.
Tasting Notes: On the nose, there is a spectrum of seaside and medicinal peatiness. There are also notes of freshly cut grass. The palate is chewy peat, sea salt, vanilla cream and hints of fruitiness. The peat takes centre stage in the finish with an underlying sweetness, sweet spice and oak. A balanced whisky with great depth and complexity.
A fantastic late-nigh digestif whisky. Excellent with blue vein cheeses. Loved by cocktail mixologists
THE SPICE TREE
46% Abv – 700ml
Compass Box’s illegal whisky – a scotch so innovative it was initially banned by Scotch Whisky Association. First launched in 2005, they were forced to discontinue production due to the use of the highest quality French oak inner staves as SWA did not approve of this kind of aging. Undeterred, Compass Box continued to work and develop a new hybrid Oak cask that would allow similar results, and THE SPICE TREE was resurrected in September 2009.
Made from 100% malt whisky sourced from northern highland and speyside distilleries, the primary maturation is in a mix of first-fill and refill American oak. However for the secondary maturation, the whisky is racked into barrels with heavily toasted French oak heads with three different levels of toasting, and this maturation lasts for as long as two years. The Spice Tree is a very rich whisky, and is the seminal award-winning malt whisky.
Tasting Notes: The nose is big, with sweet aromas of clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. There is also a hint of bourbon note and pepper. The palate is full, round and sweet with the spice and vanilla complementing the core distillery characters. Layers of flavours unfold. The finish is long and sustained, very spicy, big and rich. An intense malt whisky redolent of baking spices and layered with toasty oak accents that complement the underlying distillery character.
The Story of the Spaniard
43% Abv – 700ml
A drink that’s perfect for the experimental drinker, this distinctive dram from The Compass Box Signature Range collection will have you sit up and take notice from the very first sip. The Story of the Spaniard is a tale of 5 single malts and 1 blended highland malt that mature in French oak barrels for 9 years before finally meeting you in the bottle that hints at its Spanish red wine and sherry accents.
Tasting Notes: You’re introduced to this balanced Highland blend by the nose of cinnamon apples and pears, citrus peel and toasted oak. The palate is dominated by honey, spice and dried fruit, with every sip a reflection of sherry and red wine antecedents. A soft, sumptuous finish of vanilla and berries rounds off this delectable single malt blend.