Home > Scotch, Whiskey > Compass Box – The Art of Blending

Compass Box – The Art of Blending

January 10, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Innovation. This word is usually associated with high-tech industry, new cars, new gadgets, an iPhone 6 or 7 – I’m sure you got my point. Yet innovation is not a foreign word when we talk about food, and wine, and the other stuff we drink, even though the original concept didn’t change in many thousands or at least many hundreds of years.

If you scroll through the posts in this blog, you will see that most of them are about wine and food (with a bit of photography). However, from time to time I step outside of the wine world and talk about my second favorite type of enjoyable alcohol, Scotch – and this will be the subject of this post.

What was with all that talk about innovation, you ask? When it comes to Scotch, many of the products are deeply rooted in tradition. Yes, some distillery might change the label or the packaging, and that would be about the full extent of innovation. But then there are companies such as Compass Box – a relative newcomer in the world of fine whisky. Compass Box had a vision – a vision of taking the existent best of the breed whiskys from the different regions, aging them in the best available wood and then blending them together to create a new line of products which would be unique and exemplary at the same time. Most importantly – they managed to succeed with that approach and took their rightful place in the market.

About two month ago I had an opportunity to taste through the whole line of Signature Range of Compass Box whiskys, so here are my notes from that tasting.

compass box 2

Asyla – nice, standard, smooth

Oak Cross – touch of sweetness, very delicate, nice fruit

Spice Tree – very nice, less sweetness than Oak Cross, with coriander notes on the palate

Peat Monster – big, peaty, bad ass beauty, medicinal, round – perfect! Need campfire to pair

Hedonism – very viscous on the nose, nice, delicate, with touch of sweetness, very round – very nice, distinctly different from anything else.

Flaming Heart – beautiful. Peaty but very balanced. Best of tasting.

Orangerie – nice addition of fresh orange, very delicious.

I also sneaked by (no, I didn’t steal anything, I was offered the taste) Johnnie Walker Blue King George V Edition, which is pretty rare and needless to say, expensive – very oily in appearance and on the nose, but then super clean and fragrant on the palate, very very round (if you are into Scotch, this one should be on your “must try list”).

That is all I wanted to share with you, folks. If you know of Compass Box scotches and enjoy them, pour yourself another splash. If you never heard of them, try one – you might discover something new. If you don’t like scotch, there is a good chance you just didn’t happen to find the right one yet – keep trying as you might come across the one which will speak to you… Cheers!

  1. January 11, 2013 at 1:15 am

    My brother in law loves scotch – one of these might be a great gift idea! I’m not sure I would ever find the right one for me…

    • talkavino
      January 11, 2013 at 6:39 am

      In addition to great taste, these bottles also look very presentable, with Flaming Heart being packaged in the most unique way, into a “glass” box.
      What scotch did you try? Anything you like even remotely? The Hedonism I mentioned above is one of the most delicate scotches I know. Remember, this is all acquired taste. But once you like, there is a world of pleasure ahead : )

  2. January 11, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Scotch is something that I haven’t really gotten into yet. I tried a few Johnny Walkers on random occasions. Maybe it’s time to try others 🙂
    I like the concept of blending good quality Scotch. And that makes me thinking what would happen if one blends good wine? For example multiple Amarone..

    • talkavino
      January 11, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Try Johnnie Walker double black – it is reasonably priced and it has character. Otherwise, if you are not into Scotches, try single malts from Speyside – for the most of the cases they are the most mellow compare to the others.
      As far as blending is concerned – blending is art – scotch or not, but you need a master blender to accomplish that. And while it is not directly advertized or explained outside of Champagne, the final wine which is released is very often the result of the blend, if anything, of the separate barrels, even from the same year and the same vineyard. Winemakers sometimes ferment different batches of juice with the different strains of yeast, and then blend it together to achieve final product. Blending is a part of winemaking a lot more often than not.

      • January 11, 2013 at 11:35 am

        I just looked at the selection of Speyside and might try some. I don’t know yet if I’m into Scotches or not – haven’t tried enough to tell!

        Well the Bolgheri from Tenuta Argentieria that I recently reviewed was a blend of wine that aged 50% in oak and 50% in stainless steel tanks.Just before bottling everything was mixed together. So I guess you are right blending is already part of winemaking.

        • talkavino
          January 11, 2013 at 12:04 pm

          When scotch is blended, it is usually written on the bottle, so it is easy for us to understand. When it comes to wine, blending is an internal part of the process, which is usually not explained on the bottle – that makes a difference…


  3. January 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Nice detour in the Scotch arena, Anatoli!
    Very interesting review, too: I was not aware of Compass Box.
    I am by no means a Scotch expert, but I do like it a lot. The ones I am the most fond of among those that I have tried so fare are a Bladnoch cask strength bottled by James McArthur (probably my all time favorite), a Lagavulin Distillers Edition and Talisker. After reading many good things about them, I recently gave a Japanese whisky a try (the Yamazaki), but I hate to say I was underwhelmed… Have you experienced any good Japanese whisky that you would recommend?

  4. talkavino
    January 12, 2013 at 12:52 am

    I never had the Bladnoch, and Lagavulin and Talisker are some of my favorites, at any time. As far as Japanese whisky goes, I actually like Yamazaki 12, which I think is very good. Problem with Japanese whisky is extremely low availability or high price. I would like to try Yamazaki 18, but it is $100+ per bottle. I had another interesting Japanese whisky, called Hakushu, which is also produced by Suntori ( same maker as Yamazaki) – it is very nice, but more floral and complex compare to Yamazaki (here is my blog post about both: https://talk-a-vino.com/2012/07/30/and-a-few-words-errr-whiskys-for-the-national-scotch-day/) – I’m not sure if it is available here, my bottle was brought directly from Japan. Lastly, look for the Japanese whisky called Hibiki – it is a blend, but it is an excellent whisky in my opinion.
    And once you are done with Japan, look up whisky from India, called Amrut – it is also a great drink (yes, here is another post: https://talk-a-vino.com/2011/09/08/winewednesday-or-whiskywednesday-no-matter-as-long-as-it-is-tasty/). Cheers!

    • January 13, 2013 at 1:43 am

      Thank you so much for your input, Anatoli!
      India, who knew! That’s got to be a new thing for me to try out, but befpre that I think I will Japanese whisky one more try 🙂
      Thanks again!

  1. January 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm

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