Compass Box – Whisky de Table 40%

We closed with a Compass Box blend created specifically for La Maison du Whisky – something to capture an easy drinking experience like having a chilled glass of white wine with dinner.

Naturally our host followed the serving suggested serving instructions to chill the bottle… first in the fridge and then a bit of time in the freezer to ensure the whisky was properly cooled before sampling.

And then we sampled blind before the reveal…

Whisky de Table 40%

  • Colour – More like a pale white wine than whisky
  • Nose – Intense bubblegum fruit, dates, raisins, strawberry confectionary, lots of musk melon… the after the 1st sip, rose, wine fruit and sweet
  • Palate – Wow! The peat was so pronounced! Then it settled into a lovely honey – a balance of peat and sweet in perfect harmony.
  • Finish – Pure peat

It was such a contrast between the aromas and palate. Yet still such a people pleaser – easy to settle back and quaff.

What do the folks at Compass Box have to say? We suspect we tried the 2017 Whisky de Table No. 2:

The second edition of our Scotch whisky made to be shared and enjoyed like a traditional Vin de Table. The effusive distillery characters leap from the glass, unobscured by the heavier effects of maturation, providing a drink that is full of energy, versatile and beguiling. Serve chilled straight from the fridge like you would a white wine. This batch was made for the French market and released exclusively through La Maison du Whisky.

I found it quite different than my experience with the 1st edition. In case you are curious? Here are notes from my earlier brushes with this whisky:

Before Whisky de Table we tried :

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Compass Box – The Double Single 46%

Consider what you get mixing together a single malt with a single of grain? Well… if you have the exceptional blending prowess of the team at Compass Box, you would bring to the world of whisky The Double Single.

We sampled completely blind… served from a freshly opened bottle at room temperature. What did we think?

The Double Single 40%

  • Nose – Quite a contrast – very fruity and nuts, red plums, red berries, star anise, sour berry pulao, starch, tangy, even a bit of lavender, leafy, something beyond grape but not yet a raisin… all before the 1st sip!
    • After 1st sip – sweet lime, slightly funky wood, grape kool-aid…
    • After more time shifted into stewed apples
  • Palate – A lovely chilli spice and more, cloves, peppers, quite robust with loads of personality and a citrus twist
  • Finish – Smoke and wood char, spice… long and lingering

While there was absolutely no need to add water… we did… simply curious. And…? The water did wonders! 

  • Nose – Fruit and vanilla cream, oranges, yum!
  • Palate – A lovely meetha paan, all flavours sharpen, cutting the spice a tad, enabling a whole kaleidoscope of flavours to emerge, particularly aniseed
  • Finish – Still long and lingering with a light spice, aniseed remains

Above all, we were impressed by the incredible balance between the different elements. 

For those of us who have had The Double Single before, it didn’t disappoint. For those who hadn’t, just another reminder that Compass Box knows their stuff.

Curious what the folks at Compass Box have to say? Just check out what we thought when sampled early 2018  The Double Single.

Our latest Compass Box trio evening also included:

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Compass Box – Hedonism Quindecimus 46%

Up first in our latest exploration of Compass Box was Hedonism… But no ordinary edition… this was Quindecimus – their 15th anniversary special limited edition. It has an absolutely lush gorgeous label that simply screams nuance, complexity with a vintage feminine vibe.

Our host did his homework and knew this blended grain would take some coaxing and time to unfold… so he poured our glasses a half hour before we sat to start tasting.

We sampled it completely blind… and what did we think?

Hedonism Quindecimus 5689 46%

  • Nose – Started with soft caramel, light butterscotch, lemon, a bit astringent, sticky glue, wet grass, touch of kumquat, vanilla, sandalwood, a medicinal hint…
    • After the 1st sip some hazelnut, sweet grass joined, honey came increasingly to the fore, bread pudding and custard, with loads of butterscotch
    • Even more time and it took on such a lovely desert with cream and that fabulous butterscotch again
  • Palate – Citrus sweet… on the next sip there was chilli joining the sweet
  • Finish – Oddly flat and a bitter
  • Water – A mixed response – found it made it even more flat and left a bit awkward finish, others thought it added more character, with sweet and sour on the palate and a strong coconut quality

We set it aside and moved on to the other whiskies of the evening….

When we returned to it it, it was pure butterscotch, coconut on the aromas… however the palate and finish simply didn’t live up to the promise of the aromas.

With the reveal our host admitted after so much effort to to track this down, have it shipped to the US then bring to India it was a bit of a disappointment. I’ll also admit to having mixed experience with Hedonism – certainly interesting but not also bang on the mark, for me at least.

What do the folks at Compass Box have to say?

Fifteenth Anniversary Limited Edition release of 5,689 bottles. Bottled in February 2015.

Flavour Descriptors The combination of grain whiskies from different distilleries and of varying ages has created extraordinary complexity and juxtapositions of flavour. Indulgent yet lively, unctuous yet light, you will find a deep, sweet caramel coconut succulence combining with exultant tropical fruits.

Recommendations Drink this whisky as any true Hedonist would – however you like it, whenever you feel like it and in whatever quantity you deem appropriate. We particularly enjoy Quindecimus paired with sweet desserts or Highland fudge.

The blended grains are a combination of North British, Port Dundas, Dumbarton and a mystery blend aged more than 32 years.

After Hedonism, we continued on with :

And just in case you are curious? Here are notes from the earlier brushes with a different version of Compass Box’s Hedonism:

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Compass Box Trilogy – Hedonism, Double Single, Whisky de Table

By now it is quite clear we are no stranger to Compass Box and the way they have transformed what the whisky world thinks of blends.

What was on the menu this evening?

We sampled completely blind with each carefully served to bring out the most of each unique whisky:

Just be patient over the next few days to learn more bout what we discovered!

Check out a few other Mumbai evenings devoted to exploring Compass Box:

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Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend 43%

Our Whisky Ladies November session quite randomly ended  up with a trio of Highland drams plus the delicious Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend.

As a tasting group, we were no strangers to Compass Box and its whole new calibre of blends. In an earlier session we had even tried a limited edition Great King Street blend – the Experimental Batch.

Here is what we thought of the peaty Glasgow version…

Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend 43%

  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Nutty, lightly smokey, old furniture, autumn leaves, some spice, a bit of minerals, some vanilla, biscuits
  • Palate – Simply superb! Coffee, sweet berries, beautifully well rounded, some basil, a bit woodsy
  • Finish – Wood smoke, cinnamon, cloves

Overall we enjoyed our wee nip of this blend and the small bottle was completely polished off!

Here is what the Compass Box folks have to say:

In his 1930 book “Whisky”, Aeneas MacDonald teaches us that Glaswegians historically preferred fuller bodied and more flavour-packed whiskies than people in other parts of the world. So what better name for a whisky such as this?

You’ll find here a rich vein of peaty-smokiness, underpinned by sherry cask-aged whiskies, full of dried fruit and wine character. The palate is full and round, with a sweetness typical of whiskies from our company.

You can also see exactly what this blend is made of, courtesy of the fabulously transparent disclosures of Compass Box.

Here is what else we tried:

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Whisky Ladies “Bar Bottle” – Glenmorangie, Old Pulteney, Compass Box, Ardmore

We had different plans for this evening – a much anticipated combined night with our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents… However it was not do be so what to do instead?

We thought why not reach into our bars and see what was available to share…

Here is what we unearthed:

It turned out every bottle could be purchased (at one time) at duty-free and yet each was certainly a cut above the standard travel retail fare.

It also just so happened that each had a touch of smoke… from a mere hint with the Old Pulteney and Glenmorangie to a more pronounced puff of peat with the Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend and Armore Triple Wood Peat.

In an unplanned twist, all three single malts were also from Highland distilleries… with the delightful Compass Box blend a terrific foil with some highland whiskies too.

Overall it proved to be a most enjoyable quartet and a good reminder to not dismiss what you may find when perusing airport wares – at least in some select airports around the world!

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The Vault Fine Spirits trio at KODE

Sometimes you have an opportunity to re-discover familiar drams in a completely different setting familiar friends…

That is exactly what happened one fine evening many months ago in Mumbai at KODE with Keshav Prakash featuring a trio from The Vault Fine Spirits Collection.

We began with a distinctly light then shifted gears completely to peat and closed with a sherry sweet. No serious tasting notes as this was purely an evening to quaff and enjoy with others who appreciate a good dram.

Other Vault whiskies normally found at KODE include:

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Introducing “The Story of the Spaniard” from Compass Box

Sometimes a treat comes to town… this time in the form of the newly launched Compass Box “The Story of the Spaniard” whisky!

Compass Box announced this will join their core range, likely with some variation on a sherry theme in future editions – yet all blends will be anchored by Spanish casks – be it sherry wine or a sherry-like wine.

So what did we find in our introduction to this latest Compass Box blend?

Photo from compassboxwhisky.com

The Story of the Spaniard 43%

  • Nose – Lemon, citrus, anise, subtle, clean, then reveals darker fruits, a hint of  cherries under a bright spice
  • Palate – Spice, initially gives a sense of being a bit brash and young, then on second sip, reveals a delicate balance, warm sweet spices, something a bit deeper almost resinous… Sip again and that spice comes roaring to the fore… and then again it is subdued…
  • Finish – Warming spice

In our first brush with the Spaniard, none of us were tempted to add water. However I was fortunate a bit remained with an opportunity to revisit another day… This time also sampling with a large round cube of ice, slowly melting into the whisky.

Transformed! While normally my default sipping style is need or with a few drops of water, for The Spaniard, I would suggest also trying with a bit of ice. In this second foray, I found:

  • Nose – Retains the citrus yet shifts to more of a mandarin orange and a hint of hazelnut, more dark red wine than typical Christmasy sherry notes
  • Palate – A delight. The wine-like quality emerges more, with some tannins and a light bitterness, with a sweet citrus twist
  • Finish – The bitterness remains with sweet spices

Like all Compass Box blends, the details are disclosed – including that it is not chill filtered and natural colour. For the first release, the recipe is:

  • 40% was aged in 1st fill Sherry butt using a malt whisky near Aberlour
  • 25% in ex-Spanish red wine casks with malt whisky from Teaninich
  • 15% highland blend (Clynelish, Dailuaine, Teaninich) further matured in hybrid french oak cask with a heavy toast
  • Then a combination of 8% refill sherry butt and 7% refills hogshead from Deanston, 5% re-charred barrels with malt from Glen Elgin.

CompassBoxWhisky.com

And what do the folks at Compass Box have say about it?

You will find a whisky that is full, soft and sumptuous on the palate with flavours of citrus peel and pears poached in red wine and spices. It’s a whisky ideal for late evening sipping or stirring into a cocktail.

Worth trying? Absolutely!

And for those curious to track it down, I understand it should be available in India shortly through The Vault Fine Spirits.

Other Compass Box core range?

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A Phenomenon Revisited – Compass Box Phenomenology 46%

Compass Box’s Phenomenology is one of those whiskies that is both phenomenal and a phenomenon. I have yet to encounter a whisky that provokes such a range of reactions – with highly individual perceptions.

I first had it with our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents back in February 2018. Where our host very generously asked if I would like to take the bottle home to share with others. Would I?? Oh yes indeed!

And the perfect evening presented itself in June 2018 with the Whisky Ladies. We were a lovely small group and after our Highland Hijinks trio, our evening didn’t seem quite finished…

Enter Phenomenology…

And what a remarkable experience it was. Just to give a feel for the contrasting responses, I’ve deliberately kept them separated by speaker for the nose… read, discover and see if this possibly could be the same whisky!

Just a sampling of the aromas different ladies found are noted below:

  • Floral, lots of jasmine, honeysuckle, perfume
  • Almond, like Amaretto, shrewsbury biscuits
  • Citrus, salt, melon or more precisely cantaloupe, a licorice saunf and surprisingly sharp
  • Almond, dum biryani
  • Salted caramel, toffee, rhubarb, orange rind, musk, tobacco leaf
  • A kaleidoscope of aromas, fresh green apples, french vanilla, pure dessert, icing sugar powder, blue cheese, toasted rice, yoghurt

As for the rest, our combined experience was:

  • Palate – A light hint of peat, great “teeth”, whiff of skunk, cedar plank with salmon, sage, had a great mouthfeel, light spice
  • Finish – Citrus and floral, mild spice, black cardamom

To say we loved it was an understatement. It was complex, challenging, sparked conversation. And not only did we each find largely quite different aspects, even individual women found multiple elements too… this was no one-dimensional dram. No siree!

Above all – how could such contrasting characters emerge from the same whisky?

Here is where the folks at Compass Box excel, they share their secrets, telling the world exactly what goes into the bottle so one can attempt to dissect, deconstruct, discover and above all learn and be inspired…

What is fascinating is the bulk of this blend comes from Glenlossie – a distillery I’ve yet to try as a single malt and has no specific official bottles outside of Diageo’s Flora and Fauna range. Yet its been around since 1876 quietly producing whisky for blends.

And what does it add to Phenomenology?

  • 72% total liquid volume with a malt whisky matured in re-charred hogshead
  • And what does it add in terms of its flavour profile? Fresh, Fruity, Apples
Next up? Tamdhu with 24.5% matured in first fill bourbon cask adding Caramel, Oak, Spice. In this case, one I’ve tried but long ago and not at a time when I took any tasting notes, which means I have no particularly memory.
And the last 3? A split between rather familiar distilleries:
  • Highland Park with 2% matured in re-charred hogshead bringing burnt butter, bonfires, tar
  • Talisker with 1% matured in refill butt adding salty, coastal, brine dimensions
  • Caol Ila with a mere 0.5% matured in a hogshead throwing marshmallow, vanilla and sweet smoke into the equation
With this knowledge, do we understand more? Perhaps. And yet the proof is in the pudding so to speak… the way in which the whiskies were blended in such a masterful way to produce something unique and quixotic. And well worth revisiting.
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Vault Collection – Spice Tree 46%

Last in our original club’s “The Vault Collection” trio was a a Compass Box blend. Our guest writer Nikkhil had the following tasting notes to share.

Pour 3​: Compass Box Spice Tree 46% | Non-Chill Filtered & Natural Colour

  • Color: Pale Gold
  • Nose: Boiled confectionery, a little varnish, lemon citrus. Then very quickly a lot of cloves and nutmeg. Notes of walnuts, apples, orange rind and ginger follow. Almost perfumey.
  • Palate: Gorgeous mouthfeel. Lovely arrival with a bouquet of spices and vanilla. Warm bread pudding. Follows the nose very closely. Oily and waxy. Some old leather, pencil shavings and that ginger from the nose. I did get just a wee hint of smoke. Again, nicely balanced.
  • Finish: Medium with lingering spices. A perfect after dinner dram on a cold night.

The “reveal”…

We couldn’t place this one even though most of us have had it in the past. That’s the beauty of blind tastings. You think you know your whisky but blind tasting is such a leveller. The reveal surprised us. Compass Box Spice Tree. Enough and more has been said about Compass Box and Spice Tree in the past so I will not repeat myself but instead I urge you to pour yourself a dram and enjoy this expression. Sláinte!

Official notes:

Big, sweet aromas of clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. The palate is full, round and sweet, with the spice and vanilla complementing the core distillery characters and leaving a long finish.

The Vault Collection trio:

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