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Compass Box is a company borne of the love of great whisky. Founded by John Glaser in 2000, when he quit his job as international marketing director for Johnny Walker, Compass Box has gone from creating blends on Johns kitchen table to crafting some of the worlds most highly regarded whiskies. Compass Box brought a fresh approach to the art of blending.
When you say blended whisky to most drinkers their immediate reaction is one of disdain and in many cases this is justified, for decades blends have been uninspiring mass-market fare with few redeeming qualities. The same cannot be said of Compass Box who develop the most wonderfully complex and fascinating whiskies by taking super-high quality casks and creating a structure of flavour around a core. Before discovering his love of whisky John was in the wine business, here he saw how wine makers would blend varieties to create depth and complexity, for example a high quality Bordeaux might be primarily cabernet sauvignon with a little merlot and some cabernet franc. The same principle is applied by Compass Box; a core whisky will be built upon with two or three additional whiskies that will bring a new dimension to the finished product. Unlike mass-market blends the features of all of the whiskies can be smelt and tasted, both individually and in harmonious balance.
Something else thats important to Compass Box is oak. Their work is underpinned by a belief that great whisky must be matured in great quality casks in order for them to achieve their maximum potential. The practice of using casks over and over again is common place in Scotland. Inevitably each subsequent refill will see less development as the flavours are leached from the staves and some producers will refill up to ten times before discarding the cask. This isnt the way Compass Box like to do things. The individual whiskies that go into the Compass Box range have all been matured in first-fill bourbon barrels and the marrying process that follows the blends, sometimes for up to two years, will be in barrels that are young, full of flavour and from highly regarded cooperages. This means that the whiskies will achieve maximum depth, complexity, smoothness and balance.
Its this approach that has given Compass Box ten years of going from strength to strength, that has seen them pick up Whisky Magazines Innovator of the Year award an incredible four times and with each new release comes a fresh wave of rave reviews. If youre looking for whiskies that are inspiring, individual and just plain delicious then Compass Box whiskies are just what you need.
At Whisky Online we proudly stock the full Compass Box range and always make sure that we pick up the very special limited releases so that you can always enjoy their most recent works of genius. Please explore the Compass Box section and discover what makes these bottlings so very special.
The ultimate every day whisky, its just right for sharpening the appetite before dinner or for unwinding with your feet up on a Sunday afternoon. With just a splash of chilled water, this blend of soft, creamy grain whiskies and elegant, refined malt whiskies is delicate, sweet and very smooth on the palate with notes of vanilla cream and orchard fruits that makes it great as an aperitif.
Unlike most malt-grain blends Asyla has a very high malt content of 50% that gives it real depth. With Asyla the aim was to show just how good a malt-grain blend can be when done properly and with the finest Cameron Bridge grain whisky and malt from Linkwood, Glen Elgin and Teaninich, all of which have been exclusively aged in first-fill bourbon barrels, this symphonic combination is matured again for twelve months so that the flavours of the individual whiskies fully marry.
We call this malt whisky Oak Cross because it offers the best characteristics of both American and French oak ageing. We work with a small mill in France that produces some of the highest quality cooperage oak in the world. It was our work with this mill that led us to experimenting with secondary maturation of malt whiskies in casks fitted with new French oak heads. This is something no one else in Scotland does. The result is malt whisky with more character and complexity. We use this technique on about 50% of the malt whisky in Oak Cross and it results in a superior finished product.
Delicate enough to serve as a winter aperitif and rich enough for a summer digestif Oak Cross also goes really well with cheese. The whiskies here are all Highland malts, most of the content is Teaninich which is balanced with malt from Clyneleish to give fruitiness and Daluaine for weight. The result is a whisky that has flavours of cloves and vanilla with a sweet maltiness and subtle fruit.
A malt whisky for real peat heads and for lovers of complex, multilayered whiskies. What makes it fit into the Compass Box house style is the balance of richness and subtle sweetness that the old casks of Ardmore provide to the smoky-peaty Islay malts. This is the great benefit of combining single malts from different distilleries. We are not limited to the produce of one distillery. Like a wine maker blending grape varieties, we can create layers of complexity. The core is Caol Ila which is given an extra coastal boost with some Laphroaig along with the Ardmore for a delicate, almost floral layer.
Here we start off with bacon-fat smokiness before we get full blown peat, bonfires, peat and sea salt and then fruit and spice. This is truly a fascinating whisky and the finish is extremely long echoing peat and smoke for several minutes. Its great with blue cheeses, makes a wonderful digestif and is guaranteed to take the chill off a cold day!
The Spice Tree
First launched in 2005, we were forced to discontinue production under a legal threat by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) for our pioneering use of the highest quality French oak inner staves. This, despite rave reviews from consumers, trade and press. We agreed to disagree with the SWA and halted production.
Over the past three years we have developed a new maturation process which yields similar if not superior results to our previous method, and this new process is something the SWA can't take any issue with.
As in the past, The Spice Tree is 100% malt whisky sourced from northern Highland distilleries, (notably and primarily malt whisky distilled at the Clynelish distillery). The primary maturation is in a mix of first-fill and refill American oak. What is different is the secondary maturation. Rather than using inner stave inserts, as we did for the original Spice Tree, we rack the whisky into barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads. We have created a method for getting a super heavy toast on the cask heads which imparts a flavour profile similar to the flat staves used for the original Spice Tree. We use oak with three different levels of toasting on the barrel heads, thus allowing us to blend the resultant whiskies to create additional layers of complexity. This secondary maturation lasts as long as two years.
On the nose there are big, sweet aromas of clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. The palate is full, rounded and sweet, with spice and vanilla. The palate is full, round and sweet, with the spice and the vanilla complementing the fruit and leaving a long, evolving finish.
Hedonism is our seminal and award winning Scotch grain whisky. We bottle it once or twice per year, depending on our ability to source the quality of casks we require. Rare and old, its something special for the collector or the new whisky enthusiast.
Hedonism is unusual in the Scotch whisky world: a 100% Scotch grain whisky. It is very rare to see 100% grain whisky bottling, even in Scotland. Going back 100 years, grain whisky brands were more common, but they were overtaken in popularity by the big brands of blended Scotch, which comprised both grain whisky and malt whisky. Today, most Scotch grain whisky gets blended into the big brand names, typically at young ages. For Hedonism, we search for very old casks of Scotch grain whisky, typically over 20 years in age. And we only bottle Hedonism once or twice a year, when we find casks with the right flavour profile.
The vatting in Hedonism is made up of whiskies from Cameron Bridge, Carsebridge and Cambus and are between fourteen and twenty nine years old with the average overall age being twenty years. The flavours of this whisky are inviting, elegant and luxurious with vanilla cream, toffee, fudge, coconut and white chocolate.
Flaming Heart is back. To celebrate our 10th Anniversary, Flaming Heart returns in its third limited edition, with a new label illustrated by Alex Machin. Flaming Heart combines Highland, Islay and Island single malts, aged in a combination of American and French oak casks, to create a smokysweet flavour profile like no other Scottish malt whisky. Its complex and smoky with a rich, sweet, spice-laden fruitiness and a long, lingering finish.
This is a whisky inspired by a rock song. Appropriate, perhaps, as rock music has long been associated with rebellion against various societal norms. And our humble company has been associated, for better or for worse, with a reaction against the industrial traditions of Scotch whisky production. We like to think of our approach as reflecting a craft ethos--making whisky better for the sake of it. Flaming Heart is an ideal example of this approach. It is a whisky that combines superior, new French oak-matured Highland single malt whiskies " with all their fruitiness, richness, spice-like character and sweetness " with heavy-peated Islay single malts. The combination yields a complex flavour profile like no other Scotch malt whisky: big, bold, rich, sweet, smoky. Its a whisky born of fire, yet one with a big heart!
What if we were to match perfectly one single malt whisky with one single grain whisky in just the right proportions? That is, what if we were to make a blended Scotch whisky with only two components, only two single whiskies rather than many? What if we were to make¦ a double single. This is the question our friends Duncan Elphick and Tatsuya Minagawa of the Highlander Inn on Speyside asked us in 2003, resulting in our first limited release bottling of The Double Single. For our 10th anniversary year, weve decided to bring it back. The whiskies weve chosen this time: an 18 year-old malt whisky distilled at Glen Elgin distillery (76%) and a 21 year-old grain whisky distilled at Port Dundas (24%), both aged in American oak. The combination yields a full, soft palate of flavours reminiscent of pear fruit, maltiness, vanilla and creme brulee. This whisky is a testament to the virtues of combining grain whisky with malt whisky, a testament to the virtues of blended Scotch whisky. The grain whisky creates a lovely, soft, sweet pillow on which the malt whisky flavours luxuriate. This is just as great blended Scotch whisky should be that astounds and delights everyone who tries it.
Hedonism 10th Anniversary
The original bottling of Hedonism was the culmination of a painstaking search for great casks and it set a course for what Hedonism has become. John spent many months collecting cask samples from different distilling companies and brokers, tasting and re-tasting, blending the very best casks in innumerable combinations, until he felt he had something unassailably good. Good enough to launch the Compass Box Whisky Company. The single cask, distilled in 1971 at the Invergordon Distillery, while much older than what we typically use for Hedonism, represents to me perfection in maturation, the basis for all the casks we select for Hedonism going back to that first batch in 2000. The cask only gave us 144 bottles of a whisky that has been described as the best grain whisky tasted for generations. This is a one-off and casks of grain whisky this good are a rare and special treat.
In the 18th century, building an orangery became the height of fashion, particularly in Scotland. In London, two landmark orangeries were built Kensington Palace in 1705 and Kew Gardens in 1761. The inspiration for the name of our whisky infusion came while visiting the orangery at Kew.
To us, as whiskymakers, it has always seemed natural to complement the flavour palate of certain whiskies with the vibrancy of orange zest and the aromatics of Oriental spices.
Orangery is an infusion of Scotch whisky and natural ingredients, which complement the whisky and enhance its overall aromas and flavours. Orangerie cannot be called Scotch whisky, as it has taken on flavours from the infusion of fresh, hand-zested orange peel and exotic spices.
First, we use great whisky. We use a soft, sweet blend of Highland single malt and single grain whisky from Fife. Second, we use only the freshest, highest quality oranges and top class, aromatic spices. Importantly, we zest the fruit by hand and use only fresh zest in our infusion (no synthetic flavourings or oils). Only the hand-zested peel of really fresh Navalino oranges will give you the lively, vibrant flavours that are the hallmark of Orangerie. There are aromas of freshly peeled orange with Christmas cake spices and the palate is tantalised with vanilla, cassia bark and cloves with sweet orange.
Orangerie is wonderfully versatile, its great with dark chocolate, makes wonderful cocktails and is great after-dinner.