This is a Compass Box expression produced for the 10th anniversary of The Nectar (what appears to be a distributor in Belgium). It consists of around 50% ex-bourbon Ardbeg and 50% Highland Malt in French Oak. It’s bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Dry smoke, heavy lemon oils, burning tires, bread dough, tangerine, and a healthy dose of minerals.
Palate: Lemon candies, slate, quite oaky all around with some brash peat influence and a bit of rubber.
Finish: Burnt oak and clementines linger awhile.
Rating: 87/100 – The Ardbeg certainly takes over here with the strong smoke/peat/lemon notes.
Value for the money: These could be found for around $150-200 delivered to the US when they were released. I’d be more willing to buy a bottle around $100, but these will be harder to find over time.
This was Compass Box’s first vatted malt which is comprised of 15 year Clynelish (part of which was matured in re-charred hogsheads) and 12 year Caol Ila. It was retired in 2005 after they ran out of stock of the Clynelish. It’s bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Peaty with a good amount of tar, seaweed, a bit if isopropyl alcohol going on with some vegetal notes. The Caol Ila clearly dominates the nose.
Palate: Caol Ila continues its domination here with strong peat, dry smoke, decaying leaves, smoked fish, and some farmy notes.
Finish: Dry smoke and vegetal notes as the oak fades.
Rating: 80/100 – I wish the Clynelish stood out more here as this mostly just tasted like a young Caol Ila for me.
Value for the money: I found this in a shop for around $45 which is a decent price. I wouldn’t chase this discontinued expression on the secondary though unless you find it at retail price.
This is a reinterpretation of the standard Compass Box Spice Tree expression which is made up of the following: 32.6% Glen Ord (First Fill Sherry Butt), 17.2% Benrinnes (First Fill Sherry Butt), 2.6% Allt-A-Bhainne (Refill American Standard Barrel), 27.7% “Highland Malt Blend” (Light/Medium Toast Hybrid Cask), 4.3% “Highland Malt Blend” (Refill Hybrid Cask), and 15.6% “Highland Malt Blend” (Heavy Toast Hybrid Cask). The Highland Malt Blend mentioned is 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, and 20% Teaninich. This is bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Very malty with vanilla, butterscotch, strawberry jam, and a bit of caramel. This strikes me much more as ex-bourbon than sherry despite being close to 50% sherry cask matured malt.
Palate: Toffee leads off with plenty of oak and some woody mushrooms. Caramel notes are still strong while this remains very malty.
Finish: A bit sour and funky oak here with more butterscotch and strawberries.
Rating: 85/100 – A very interesting profile that is quite different compared to the standard Spice Tree.
Value for the money: These retail around $130 which is about $50 more than the Spice Tree. I don’t think I like it that much better to warrant the extra $50, but it’s hard to compare directly since it’s quite a bit different. I may end up picking one up at $130, but I wouldn’t pay any more.
This is a blended malt expression from Compass Box whose name is a jab at the labeling laws which prevent you from using an older age statement in your label if you have a portion of younger whisky in the blend. In this case, the blend is made up of Clynelish and Talisker in the following proportions: 90.3% “Malt whisky produced near the village of Brora” (Refill Hogshead – no age provided), 9.3% “Malt whisky produced on the Isle of Skye” (First fill sherry butt – no age provided), and .4% “Malt Whisky produced near the village of Brora” (First fill american standard barrel – 3 year old – hence the name). It’s bottled at 49.2% ABV.
Nose: Peaches and buttercream frosting with big waxy notes – leads into pears, cinnamon, and honeydew melon. A bit of smoke appears from the Talisker.
Palate: Heavy oak up front introducing some bitterness into the fruit mix – waxy fruits are dialed way down from the nose with more cinnamon, apples, and heavily spiced chai.
Finish: Bitter, dry, and oak heavy with a hint of anise and spiced pears.
Rating: 83/100 – I thought I’d like this one a lot more given the fact I love Clynelish and Talisker. The palate/finish are too over oaked for my taste, and a lot of the lovely fruit notes from the nose drop off as a result.
Value for the money: These currently retail around $280, and while I was going to buy one originally, I think I’ll pass after trying this sample. This one is definitely a try before you buy in my opinion.
This is a blend from Compass Box that is made up of undisclosed sources/ages but one is 33 years old and the other is rumored to be 40+ years in age. It was bottled at 53.4% ABV.
Nose: Very complex with malt entwined with golden raisins alongside cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Heavy sherry influence adding in plums and dates.
Palate: Quite spicy with a heavy oak profile – sherry strikes me as an Oloroso as it’s overly raisiny, but still quite sweet.
Finish: Spices continue to linger with aged oak and pleasant level of sherry.
Rating: 94/100 – As a big fan of heavily sherried malts, this one is one of the better ones out there.
Value for the money: These retailed for around $350, but now are $550+ on the secondary. It was a stretch at retail, and I don’t think it’s quite worth secondary prices.
This is a NAS blend from Compass Box that’s bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Crisp pear mingling with clean malt. Very little oak with strawberries and honeydew melon. Light and sweet overall.
Palate: Salty with big malt notes up front opening to sweet pears and melon in the mid palate. Minimal oak complemented by nice spices.
Finish: Fairly long with the sweeter notes lingering alongside the barley.
Value for the money: This is a great buy at retail of $35-$40 – would make for a great intro scotch for someone, but it’s also great for seasoned drinkers.
This is a blend of single malt and grain whisky that is infused with orange peel zest and some spices and bottled at 40% ABV.
Nose: Sickly sweet orange juice with a slight malt profile. Mulled spices and apple jacks cereal.
Palate: Bitter and citrusy at the same time like a grapefruit – very peppery malt with big dose of cloves.
Finish: Bitter with sweet and sour notes fading rapidly.
Rating: 82/100 – Interesting experiment for an infused whisky – maybe better suited for a non fan of scotch who can treat it like a sipping liqueur.
Value for the money: This retails around $40 and I think I’d pass on it at that price.