The Whiskymakers at Compass Box blend scotch with specific intent. Taking good wood casks and marrying whisky from all over Scotland, They produce expressions that are more than the sum of their parts.
I like learning.
There…I said it, loud and proud. Whether it’s towards a degree (and not to brag, I have several), or just a new cooking technique, I just love to learn new things.
When I can combine my love of learning with something I’m passionate about (like baking and whisky), I’m especially gratified.
That’s why I was so happy to go to the Compass Box Scotch Whiskymaker's Whisky School.
Let me explain…
Learning about scotch
When I research a particular lineup for a review post, I generally head to the company’s website and poke around to see if there’s something to learn there.
Usually I see information about the distillery’s history and philosophy about what makes their products unique, along with details for their individual expressions.
Sometimes the distillery goes into more depth about their process, and my favorite sites are the ones that go into depth about the entire whisky-making process.
When I visited the Compass Box website, they had a series of videos where their founder and whiskymaker, John Glaser, explained about blending scotch whisky, the importance of wood and cask selection, and how they come up with the different expressions of Compass Box blended scotch.
These short yet informative videos do a great job of explaining what is blended scotch and how it’s a unique category of whisky unto itself. Here’s a brief summary of what I learned…
- The importance of good wood…70% of flavor comes from the cask, so the types and styles of those casks are paramount to flavor
- Marrying different types of scotch together is more than just mixing them. It’s blending with specific intent, then putting the mixture back into wood casks to allow the flavors to rest and mature before bottling
- You can use whatever types of scotch that you want to create the new expression, single malt whisky or grain whisky, peated or unpeated, etc. The idea is to enhance the blend by targeting the characteristics you want to feature from each component regardless of what those components are and/or where they are from
There’s a lot more to the videos, and I encourage you to take a few minutes and take them in.
Okay, class dismissed…let’s get to the tasting!
Compass Box Whiskymaker's Blended Scotch Lineup Tasting
At Gordon’s DTX, January 16, 2019
Compass Box - Hedonism
- Nose: vanilla, light nose, cream
- Taste: thick body, creamy, vanilla toffee, light baking spices
- Finish: light cinnamon, very light white pepper
- Comments: sweet, flavor lingers
Compass Box - The Spaniard
- Nose: herbs, berry fruits, greenery
- Taste: lightly smoky, plums, cereal grains, caramel, cream
- Finish: cream and plums, cherries
- Comments: fruit forward in nose and taste, really lovely
Compass Box - Juveniles
- Nose: heathery smoky, clover, cereal, hay
- Taste: med body, cereal, hay, clover, light campfire smoke
- Finish: grain, almost pine
- Comments: clean, light ash, uncomplicated
Compass Box - Delilah’s XXV
- Nose: hay, vanilla toffee, oatmeal
- Taste: light berry fruit
- Finish: fades to hay, cereal
- Comments: nose eventually matches taste, confusing at first
Compass Box - Peat Monster
- Nose: iodine smoke, beach breezes, light oak
- Taste: bright beach campfire, vanilla fudge, oak shavings, thick body
- Finish: oak and smoke
- Comments: nice peat flavor
Compass Box - Flaming Heart
- Nose: plums, leather, cinnamon light citrus
- Taste: beach smoke rises, baking spices, ripe plums
- Finish: ripe plums, ash, ocean air
- Comments: it’s got a lot going on, layered, interesting
My favorite takeaway from researching this lineup of Compass Box blended scotch was that there is no one way to enjoy whisky. Whether you take it neat, with water, with ice, in cocktails, with food, is totally up to you.
Just like how everyone’s palate is unique, how you like to drink scotch is right for you, end of story.
I’ve been schooled, now so have you!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!