.compass box - spice tree extravaganza

Another Spice Tree from Compass Box. Their first release caused a lot of noise in the industry and their first slap on the wrist by the SWA for not following traditional whisky methods, but using traditional wine maturing methods by adding charred wooden staves inside the maturing whisky casks. Their current signature release consists of a blend of malts matured in ex-Bourbon casks, finished in a "Hybrid Cask" with a combination of American oak casks and (different levels of) charred, European oak cask ends. They have now released an even more complex combination of casks, older whiskies, maturing for longer periods, and a significant amount of ex-Sherry matured whiskies to start with.

Wow, there is a mouthful already, and I haven't even started yet...

46% abv, €130
single malt, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: sweet, liquorice, spicy, cinnamon, hints of cloves, allspice, star anise, fruit, mulberries, blackberries, cranberries, ripe warm cherries, cherry coke
Palate: thick, sweet, honey, honeycomb, fruit, ripe cherries, cranberries, spicy, black pepper, allspice, star anise, 
Finish: long, warm, sweet, honeycomb, warm cherry pie, spicy, cloves and a hint of cinnamon
Mark: ++++/+

Conclusion: Wonderful. This definitely tickles my senses on the right spots. I do not know exactly what it is that the whisky makers at Compass Box do, but it seems there aren't many whiskies that do not tickle my pleasant spots and make me smile. Those last sentences combined sounded worse than I meant to have it sound, but I'll leave it there for future ehrm... reference.

More info: "Only" 12.240 bottles have been released worldwide.

Glen Ord - unknown period in a first fill ex-Sherry Butt - 32.6%
Benrinnes - unknown period in a first fill ex-Sherry Butt - 17.2%
Allt-a-Bhainne - unknown period in a refill American Standard Barrel - 2.6%
Highland Blended Malt* - unknown period in a light / medium toast Hybrid Cask - 27.7%
Highland Blended Malt* - unknown period in a refill Hybrid Cask - 4.3%
Highland Blended Malt* - unknown period in a heavy toast Hybrid Cask - 15.6%

*composed of 60% aged Clynelish, 20% aged Dailuaine and 20% aged Teaninich, re-casked and matured for another four and a half years. With any luck, I might be able to update these last facts with ages any time soon.

.many thanks to Compass Box for sending us the sample to review

.compass box - three year old deluxe

My first love was a rabbit with an undisclosed name (my wife thinks it's her, so don't go telling her otherwise). My first whisky love was Ardbeg. Still nothing much to go on with this, except that when I first discovered the standard 14yo bottling of the Clynelish, I was sold. When I heard my favourite whisky blender known for using large amounts of Clynelish was about to release this puppy, my curiosity was triggered.

49.2% abv, €250
blended malt, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: sweet, vanilla, liquorice, a hint of smoke, warm applesauce (applepie maybe?), spices, cinnamon, allspice, green tea, oolong tea, piccalilli (there is a first time for everything!)
Palate: spicy, jalapeño peppers, cinnamon, warm apple sauce, a touch of smoke, creamy, vanilla, sweet, honeysuckle, red berries, citrus, grapefruit
Finish: long, liquorice-root, more smoke, creamy, sweet, vanilla, hints of citrus peel, grapefruit
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: I might be biased, a fan of Clynelish and the people and products of Compass Box, but this is great. A little tongue numbing at first, but she doesn't take long to convert that into a creamy (waxy) mouth feel, with lots of vanillas and juicy, sweet red berries. Not much smoke, but just enough to give it that extra punch it may not even need.

The drop of three year old whisky, the kitsch label and frankly, the whole idea behind this release, is a big "fuck you" to the industry, the SWA and the UK and EU law and their battle for whisky transparency. They are stalling their fight for now, having found a loophole where we, the consumers, can contact Compass Box if we would like to have more information about the content of the bottle we just purchased.

More info: from the fact sheet: 

"Composed of less than 1% three year-old malt whisky produced near the village of Brora, 90% malt whisky of an unstated age from the same distillery and around 9% peaty malt whisky distilled on the Isle of Skye, regulations only permit us only to share details of the age of youngest component! No matter. For it is this three year-old that is most important to us. Aged from new-make spirit in our own first-fill American oak casks, it imparts a lively vivacity and represents a milestone in our development as whisky makers."

From that, combined with a little research and the use of the provided information online, we can build up the following:
Clynelish - 3 years in a first fill American Standard Barrel - 0.4%
Clynelish - rumoured - 24 years in a refill Hogshead - 90.3%
Talisker - rumoured -20 years in a first fill ex-Sherry Butt - 9.3%
We have contacted Compass Box for confirmation, and when this comes through, I will update the note and let you know.

Limited release of only 3,282 bottles worldwide.

.many thanks to Compass Box for sending us the sample

.old pulteney - 35yo

Thirty-five years is a long time for anything, including whisky maturing in ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks. After thirty-five years, you expect bits of wood (tannin) flavours, a rich body, and depth you only get to taste once or twice in your life...

42.5% abv, €600+
single malt, non-chill filtered

Nose: sweet, honeycomb, custard, vanilla, fruity, sweet berries, strawberries, raspberries, ripe gooseberries, cranberries, cotton candy, caramel syrup, candy canes
Palate: sweet, honey, tangy, fruit, sour apples, berries, spicy, citrus, sweet blood oranges, candy canes, dried fruit, raisins, cranberries, rum soaked raisins, a hint of dark chocolate enriched with salt and caramel chunks (love it!)
Finish: sweet, creamy, honey, medium long, a hint of new leather, touches of tobacco and dark chocolate
Mark: +++/++ 

Conclusion: Sweet. Very nice, dangerously easy to drink. And sweet. Not exactly what I had expected. If you buy a €0.50 ice cream from a good source, you will probably get more depth and flavours. Plus, you'll have that €600,- to spend on something else. She is not a bad whisky, do not get me wrong, but I certainly expected a lot more...

More info: only 1350 bottles have been filled.

.many thanks to the Old Pulteney distillery for sharing this dram with us

.glenturret - 2002-2015 - the macphails collection - g&m

Except for the teaspoons of whisky disappearing in the Famous Grouse blends (if that still happens), you don't see a lot of Glenturret whiskies out there. Every now and then an indy bottler releases a little something, and recently, the tiny distillery is releasing their own bottlings too.

43% abv, €50
single malt, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: sweet, ripe fruit, red apples, yellow pears, white grapes
Palate: sweet, fruit, apples, nuts, almonds, chocolate milk, citrus, oranges, a hint of tobacco leaves
Finish: sweet, milk chocolate, medium long, sweetened pipe tobacco
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: Good stuff, you will not be disappointed.

More info: distilled in 2002, matured in first fill ex Sherry puncheons, and bottled on 21/12/2015.

.old pulteney - 21yo - re-review

From our trip to the North of Scotland, we brought a sample of the 21 year old Old Pulteney to re-review when we were home. A marriage of 21 year old ex-Bourbon and ex-Fino Sherry casks...

46% abv, €100
single malt, non-chill filtered, caramel E150 added

Nose: sweet, vanilla, honey, fresh fruit, red apples, pear, white grapes, berries, sweet blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
Palate: sweet, treacle, vanilla, firm, fruit, ripe cherries, raspberries, a hint of citrus, grapefruit
Finish: long, gentle, sweet, honeycomb, very ripe cherries
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: Very, very nice. However, I cannot add much more to this. I like her, but I am not about to do the nasty or put a ring on her. She's just very, very nice...

.updated from a note first released in March 2012

.north british - 27yo - 1988 - the grainman

We seem to have received a not yet released sample of the new line from Meadowside Blending. Besides their blended whiskies and their exclusive single malts via the Maltman, they have now released a series of single grains.

50.1% abv, €100
single grain, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: sweet, caramelized brown sugar, ryebread, citrus, lemon zest, sweet tangerines
Palate: sweet, cereals, ryebread, spicy, white pepper, cloves, a hint of cinnamon
Finish: long, sweet, rye bread, citrus, lemon zest, a hint of wood, liquorice, a touch of bitter
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: Very nice, the touch of bitter is a bit of an off-note to me, though.

More info: Distilled in October 1988, finished in an ex-Pedro Ximénez Sherry cask #8 for eight months and bottled in March 2016 into 282 bottles.

.old pulteney - 17yo

One step up from the 12yo, Old Pulteney has a 17yo in the middle of their core range. Aged in both ex-Bourbon as well as ex-Sherry casks.

46% abv, €70
single malt, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: sweet, treacle, vanilla, marshmallows, fruity, sweet red apples, peaches, nectarines
Palate: sweet, vanilla, treacle, sweet tropical fruit, mango, kiwi, hints of pineapple, peaches, nectarine, red apples
Finish: medium long, sweet, creamy, fruity, apples, peaches, nectarine, red apples
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: This is quite good. It also is quite up there if we are speaking about money. Sweet and very accessible, very nice as an aperitif or as a treat drizzled over a scoop of vanilla ice cream with some dark chocolate and honey...

.I received a dram when we were at the distillery

.port dundas - 1991 - 24yo - the grainman

55.1% abv, €100
single grain, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: glue-ey for quite some time, then sweet, citrus, sweet blood oranges, dried fruits, fat raisins, cranberries, figs, dates, sweet, thick syrup, tobacco leaves, milk chocolate
Palate: sweet, spicy, hot jalapeños, dried fruit, figs, dates, banana chips, citrus, lemon skin, lime juice, milk chocolate
Finish: long, sweet, creamy honey, nuts, hazelnuts, milk chocolate, Nutella basically, a hint of tobacco
Mark: ++++/+

Conclusion: Well, that's nice... If I would have been a little earlier with making my note, I might have had a time to go find and purchase a bottle. My bad, looking forward to other expressions of the Grainman though, there is more where this came from...

More info: distilled in March 1991 finished for four months in an ex-Oloroso Sherry cask #7, bottled into 282 bottles in January 2016.

.rock oyster - cask strength

From Douglas Laing's Remarkable Regional Malts series, they have put together a blended malt from distilleries of most of the Scottish Isles where distilleries are at work. including some of the beefiest Islay malts, a briny Orkney, a citrus-malty Jura and a honey-sweet Arran.

57.4% abv, €50
blended malt, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: sweet, honey, cereals, spicy, black pepper, briny, a hint of smoke, citrus, rasped orange peel, liquorice root, milk chocolate flakes
Palate: sweet, honey, treacle, floral, honeycomb, heather, buttercups, citrus, rasped orange peel, a hint of smoke, liquorice root, a touch of mint
Finish: sweet, honey, floral, heather, honeycomb, liquorice root, definite smoke
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: I liked the original well enough, and this is a touch better. Kudos for Douglas Laing for adding an undiluted version to the range.

.many thanks to Douglas Laing for sending us this sample

.scallywag - cask strength

The Scallywag, a little rascal of a Fox Terrier from the Laing family, portrayed on the Speyside blended malt from Douglas Laing - part of their Remarkable Region Malts series. A collection of Speyside Malts, including Mortlach, the Macallan and the Glenrothes, matured in a combination of ex-Sherry butts and ex-Bourbon  hogsheads, firt released in November 2013 at 46% abv. In June 2015 (I know, I am a little behind on my notes because of stuff, and things), the company released the first limited release at cask strength, startling the Fox Terrier and knocking off its monocle...

53.6% abv, €50
blended malt, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: sweet, vanilla pods, spicy, star anise, cinnamon, fruity, apple skins, citrus, orange peel, dried fruit, dried mango slices, dried banana chips, hints of mint, eucalyptus
Palate: sweet, treacle, honey, spicy, cinnamon, a hint of anise, vanilla flavoured pipe tobacco, dark chocolate shavings, citrus, blood oranges
Finish: medium long, dark chocolate, a hint of tobacco, vanilla pods, dried fruit, cranberries, blueberries
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: I wasn't very enthusiastic about the original 46% release, but this one tickles my senses on the right spots.

.many thanks to Douglas Laing for sending us this sample

.laphroaig - 14yo - feis ile 2015 - douglas laing - old particular

Feis Ile 2015 was great, we were there for for some of the events, but as these things go; you can't have 'em all, and the busy schedule of our friends from Douglas Laing completely missed ours. We did however receive a sample of their first annual Feis Ile bottling...

48.4% abv, €150
single malt, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: ash, smoke, burning meat, sweet, liquorice root, fresh eucalyptus leaves, floral, heather, hints of lavender - a 'dry' glass reveals seawater and cereals - beautiful
Palate: spicy, black pepper, sweet, honey, creamy, eucalyptus, smoke, red berries,blackberries,citrus, lemon peel
Finish: long, smoke, ash, sweet, honeycomb, fruit, cherries, blackberries, more eucalyptus freshness, hints of salt, citrus, tangy zest
Mark: ++++/+

Conclusion: Yeah... I'm there again. Lovely place, great whisky, and the Lads and Lassies of Douglas Laing have completely understood this was the right thing to bottle for a Feis.

More info: distilled in January 2001, matured in refill butt #DL 10694, bottled in February 2015 into 636 bottles

craigellachie - 21yo - craigellachie hotel exclusive

Craigellachie, the village in the heart of the Speyside region, holds the smallest pub in the UK, a beautiful inn with a great bar, a humongous cooperage, a hotel with two great bars, and a filling station. And because the river Spey runs right past the village, there is a beautiful bridge too.

Oh, and - because: Speyside - a distillery! Dohw!

57.2% abv, €only available at the hotel
single malt

Nose: sweet, vanilla, honeycomb, creamy, Werther's Originals, spicy, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, herbal, sage, hints of laurel, 
Palate: sweet, creamy, honey, more Werther's Original, spicy, white pepper, cloves, tobacco leaves, lots of dried fruit but different fruits from a standard Sherry bomb, dried apples, mango, banana chips, is there something as dried kiwifruit?
Finish: hot, spicy, white pepper, long, spicy, tobacco leaves, cloves, herbs, sage, laurel
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: I like her. Not sure what they ask per dram at the hotel, but there are many indy bottlers offering a similar bottling, most of them for a good price. A special Craigellachie indeed, but not a unique one.

More info: The bottling is "designed" to sell per the dram, only at the hotel bar, and I am pretty sure there aren't many bottles available outside of the hotel, but we were lucky enough to be sent a sample. We have to know who we have bribe persuade to let us see the insides of the distillery, so if you would have any pointers for us...

.kindly donated to us by the craigellachie distillery for a twitter tasting

.old pulteney - 12yo - re-review

"Our multi award-winning single malt delivers spicy vanilla notes and green apples, with more than a hint of the rugged north-east with a salty, tangy dryness. Moreish!"

...or so they say on their own website. Let's have another look.

40% abv, under €30
single malt, chill filtered, caramel E150 added

Nose: sweet, vanilla, fruit, green apples, grapes, sour berries, gooseberries, cranberries, that new car smell, a hint of polished leather
Palate: rather weak at first, touches of sweet, hints of vanilla, hints of something floral
Finish: medium long, quite dry, a sweet touch of vanilla, fruit, fresh (white) grapes
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: I liked it much better in 2011, than I do now. It is still quite alright, but the palate is almost absent to me, which is a shame after such promising nose. Very easy to drink, nothing very exciting. For the price, I would have expected a little more... bite.

.original note posted in Dutch, in 2011, so it was about time to update. Received a dram while we were at the distillery.

.craigellachie - 23yo

46% abv, €275
single malt

Nose: fruity, pears, juicy green apples, berries, red berries, ripe gooseberries, marzipan, nuts, almonds
Palate: quite dry, sweet, honey, treacle, floral, honeysuckle, fruity, juicy green apples, citrus, unripe lime, berries, very very ripe gooseberries
Finish: very long, dry, sweet, fruity, fermenting apples, spicy, nutmeg, a bitter touch like one bay leaf in a dish can make a difference
Mark: ++++/+

Conclusion: Oumpfh. That is a lot of body. She if full of nice scents and flavours, had a long (long!) finish, and carries a sweet punch after you think she has left you for good. That price though...

.sample was sent to us for participation in a long gone twitter tasting, but arrived late.

.glencadam - 15yo

Guess what. We were at the distillery in May 2016 and we had a tasting of the core range of Glancadam's whiskies. The 15yo was the first single malt release of the brand immediately after their current owners - Angus Dundee - purchased the distillery in 2003.

46% abv, €55
single malt, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: sweet, high amounts of vanilla, fruity, apples, pears, green leaves, milk chocolate, herbs, basil, marjoram, dried fruit, cranberries, raisins
Palate: sweet, vanilla overload, creamy milk chocolate, honeycomb, floral, buttercups, honeysuckle, 
Finish: rather long, creamy, sweet, lots of vanilla, honeycomb,
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: Nice. I'd prefer this over the 10yo at any time, if it were not for the almost doubled price. Very nice indeed, but not that nice...

.old pulteney - new make spirit

During one of our journeys through Scotland, we finally visited the funny stills at the Pulteney distillery. We managed to confiscate some of the new make spirit, in order to make a note and extend our growing collection of home made spirit minis.

63.5% abv, €not for sale
single malt spirit, non-chill filtered, natural colour

Nose: sweet, marzipan, fruity, pears, dried fruit, raisins, nuts, almonds, cabbage, furniture polish, citrus, orange peel, copper shavings
Palate: sweet, marzipan, spipcy, white pepper, creamy, nuts, almonds, citrus, orange peel
Finish: long, warm, meaty (think; poultry), a hint of sulphur, sweet, nutty, marzipan and a touch of almonds
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: as far as we have tasted new makes, this one makes for a funky one. The special shapes of the stills and the long (over 100 meter each), copper pipes creating the worms for the tubs, definitely add to her meaty flavour, and take care of some, but not all of the sulphur tones. The almost clear wort adds to the hints of nuttiness, but once more, only hints...

She is full of subtle character traits, making her an acquired taste to some, and a definite no-brainer to others - which can tip both ways.

.craigellachie - 19yo

46% abv, €95*
single malt

Nose: sweet, fruity, red apple, sweet pear, fresh juicy peaches, pineapple, fresh hay
Palate: sweet, honey, floral, heather, honeysuckle, slightly dry mouth feel, fruity, pears, red apples, smurf, citrus, grapefruit peel
Finish: long, fruity, apples, peaches, a touch of pears
Mark: +++++ 

Conclusion: She isn't exactly cheap, but she has a firm body to let you know you are holding a fine mature Speysider. There is something I like about these ex-Bourbon matured, fruity drams. I wouldn't mind having another taste someday.

*for a 1000cl bottle, since originally she was designed for travel retail

.sample was sent to us for participation in a long gone twitter tasting, but arrived late.

.profile picture

.profile picture