Compass Box Tasting Notes

Posted: September 23, 2011 in Scotch Whisky H-Z, Vatted Malt Whisky

Compass Box ‘Juveniles’ 44%

Tasted: Sept 2004

A fresh, youthful nose, fairly neutral fruit intensity, thus it’s dominated by the big, sweet, creamy oak. Very sweet on the palate, light in body and intensity and like the nose oak dominated. There is some fruit and a hint of salt, but it’s simple and straightforward, which is exactly what it’s supposed to be. A good introductory whisky but just a bit too simple and a bit lacking in the fruit department.


Compass Box ‘Peat Monster’ 46%

Tasted: Sept 2004

A fresh, youthful nose with a reasonable intensity of smoke, ash, earthy-peat and a pleasant depth of oily coastal fruit. Quite sweet on the palate. Delicate, yet with an oily, youthful intensity. Again a reasonable intensity of peat smoke and charcoal along with hints of earth, orange fruit and some creamy oak. Good length and finish.

Far too delicate to be called a monster, more like a Peat Pussycat! Although it’s pleasant I would probably buy a single Islay malt in this price range. (£33.95)

Compass Box The Peat Monster 46%

Nose: Young, briny and very Islay with white fruit, bog myrtle, soot, peat and tar. Hints of parma violets appear along with a good dollop of manure!

Palate: Soft and a little soapy with white fruit, peat, soot and building tarry notes along with a hint of burnt wood.

Finish: Medium length with lingering peat and rather intrusive alcohol.

Conclusion: It’s much of a muchness to be honest. Not Big Peat, more Peat-Lite or Diet Peat (That was the tables conclusion!)

Compass Box The Peat Monster 46%

A vatting of Laphroaig, Caol Ila, Ledaig and Ardmore

Re-Tasted: June 2014

A youthful and pungent nose of slightly cardboardy peat (Hello! That will be the Ledaig!). Hints of balsamic malt, herbs and exhaust pipe smoke. To be honest the aromas are a little bit all over the place!

The palate is fuller, opening with some gentle smoke as more of the Ardmore character shows (and thankfully less of the Ledaig!). It’s still youthful with a dense, meaty, smokiness emerging. Lightly medicinal and earthy with an astringent coastal finish. A little bitter at the death with a very salty after-taste.

Compass Box The Peat Monster Tenth Anniversary 48.9%

Limited Release of approx 5,700 bottles. Bottled in September 2013.

A vatting of Laphroaig, Caol Ila and Brora(?)

Aged primarily in a mix of first-fill and refill American oak, plus approximately 2% new French oak for finishing.

Tasted: June 2014

A lovely, mature Islay nose of dusty peat and violets. Lightly medicinal with a herbal and coastal astringency. There are some lovely mature, sawdusty oak notes along with a good dollop of manurey –peat and more dusty spices. With time a light coffee-malt note emerges along with a touch of cold tea.

The palate is soft, mature and dusty with mature peat and parma violets, plus a light creosote and coffee note. Full and malty with a touch of burnt wood, treacle and salt. Very long and mellow with the duty peat and violets lingering and finishing with a touch of iodine and camphor. Beautifully mature and evocative. Quite a salty after-taste.

Compass Box Peat Monster Magnum Cask Strength 57.3%

Btl: Feb 2015/ Tasted: May 2015

A nose of bacon fat and briny, phenolic peat with hints of orange, sugar coated melon and lemon. Gently smoked with hints of medicinal bog myrtle and maure in the background. It’s actually quite heavily peated for Peat Monster.

The palate displays a little more oak and fleshy apricot fruit. Gentle, very sated peat, light tar, crisp citrus and hints of bbq meat follow. Very intense and herbal on the middle… Whoa! Breathtaking! Lovely sugar sprinkled citrus and brine finish with a lingering dry peat after-taste.

Water makes the nose fuller and fruitier. More sugar coated fruit but less peat. The palate mirrors the nose, although it’s still quite smoky and briny. Very phenolic after-taste with a touch of burnt wood


Compass Box Eleuthera 46%

Tasted: Sept 2004

A blend of 18 year old Glenlossie, 12 year old Caol Ila and 12 year old Clynelish.

A youthful, pure Bourbon oaked nose. Restrained peat aromas mingle with smoke, sea air and a lovely soft fruit background. Dry on the palate, young, soft and fruity with hints of dry peat. Waves of beach bonfire smoke come through on the middle and finishes with a tangy flourish. Lovely balance, length and complexity.


Compass Box ‘Oak Cross’ 43%

Tasted: Sept 2006

Highland malt whiskies which have been matured in first fill bourbon oak, with a proportion matured in casks specifically made for them. These casks are made from American oak staves and French oak heads.

Quite a winey nose, reminiscent of Chardonnay/ Sauvignon Blanc. Aromatic with soft American oak, a touch of apricot and orange fruit with a rounded, delicately soft, spicy note along with a slight granity edge and a whiff of smoke.

Soft and rounded on the palate, smooth, fruity and delicately spiced. Slightly winey with a lovely malty sweetness which builds on the middle. Lovely length with a granity note, hints of dried fruit and a dry finish.

Compass Box Oak Cross (New Blue Label) 43%

First & Refill American oak/ Finished in custom American oak casks with French oak ends.

Tasted: Sept 2013

First impressions are that the oak character is a lot subtler than it used to be with a little more emphasis on the spirit rather than the oak. I imagine that this is down to the fact that the whisky from the custom made ‘finishing’ cask is now vatted back into some refill American oak aged spirit, where previously I suspect that it was bottled straight from the ‘finishing’ cask. Anyway there are still plenty of creamy American oak vanillins with hints of fresh barley and orange. Just a hint of buttery French oak now with some light, soft spices.

Full bodied with plenty of creamy American oak, but unlike previously it doesn’t overpower the spirit. The whisky itself has a lovely silky smooth citrus and barley demeanour and again there is just a hint of buttery French oak. Lovely, gentle, spicy finish. Although I loved the monstrous oak character that it used to have I think that this is now a better balanced whisky.

Compass Box Oak Cross 43%

A vatting of Clynelish, Dailuaine and Teaninich

Aged in First and Refill American oak/ Finished in custom American oak casks with French oak ends.

Re-Tasted: June 2014

A dense and oily nose with sweet vanilla, perfumed white fruit and ‘Chardonnay-esque’ apple. Full and fleshy with banana, apricot and sub tropical fruit along with a light clove spiciness. With time hints of menthol and duty spice notes emerge.

The palate is lightly buttery with toasted vanilla, dense apricot and barley. Lightly herbal on the middle with hints of clove and green pepper. A little dusty tannin/ spice emerge but the dense fruit holds. Lovely depth with the citrus coming through to balance the creamy oak. Good length with a sweet, lightly perfumed finish.


Compass Box Orangerie 40%

Tasted: Dec 2008

A definite improvement on the first bottling. It’s cleaner on the nose with crisp barley underpinning the sweet orange liquor. It displays a greater degree of subtly and delicacy with a slight perfumed note.

Dry on the palate with a gorgeous depth of soft orange liquor fruit but balanced by the beautiful sharp barley grains. Slightly gristy with the vanilla and sweet spices coming through. A lovely piquant finish with the orange fruit returning.

Compass Box Orangerie 40%

A blend of Highland malt (Teaninich?) and Cameronbridge grain. Infused with the hand-zested peel of Navalino oranges plus Indonesian cassia bark and Sri Lankan cloves.

Re-Tasted: June 2014

The nose is very orangey! (oh there’s a surprise!) Sweet, juicy orange mingles with a balancing whisky character plus barky spices and a light herbal intimation.

Soft and full in the mouth, opening with sweet, almost crystallised orange followed by crisp spirit and hints of cassia bark and clove. The spice build beautifully on the middle and although the orange character is prominent it never gets out of hand with the grain giving a lovely, palate cleansing, crisp finish.


Compass Box The Spice Tree 46%

100% Highland Malt (Clynelish/ Teaninich?)

Aged in First and Refill American oak/ Finished in custom American oak casks with French oak ends, which have a super heavy toasting.

Tasted: June 2014

A pungent, deep, earthy and wood grainy nose with hints of coffee and menthol. Densely malty but edgy and taught with plenty of spicy vanilla. Hints of white liquorice, citrus and almost rye-like spice.

The palate is taught and spicy. Quite tannic with plenty of wood spice, coffee and herbal spice. Fairly malty on the middle as the spirit comes through brining orange and apricot notes. The oak returns on the finish with a serious intensity and yet more spice! Lightly bitter finish with a touch of dark chocolate and Seville orange.

Compass Box ‘The Spice Tree’ 46%

Re-Tasted: Sept 2014

The nose opens with the intense and grainy French oak and dried fruit. Quite herbal with a light rye-like note. Hints of sweet barley and sweet American oak come through with clove, cinnamon and a touch of slightly sweet honey, ginger and cardamom.

The palate is soft but grainy with the French oak being held in check to a certain extent by the American oak. Again, softly spiced with ginger, clove and barley. Wonderful riot of spices on the middle! Long with the herbal notes coming through to join the lingering spice and grainy oak. Hints of ginger and clove oil in the after-taste.

Compass Box ‘The Spice Tree’ 46%

Re-Tasted: May 2016

Initially the nose is quite spice laden with cinnamon and pepper. The grainy French oak notes follow along with some balancing sweet-ish malt, honey and softer vanillins. Lovely intensity with late liquorice and coffee notes.

The palate is soft and subtly spiced with apricot, malt, coffee and vanilla. Pleasantly grippy, French oak tannins come through on the middle along with the spice – clove and pepper. Good length with a lingering tobacco note.

Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza 46%

Blended Malt – 23.6% 20 year old Glen Ord (Refill Sherry Butt), 17.2% 11 year old Benrinnes (Fist Fill Sherry Butt), 2.6% 19 year old Allt-A-Bhannie (Refill ASB), 27.7% 13 year old Highland Malt Blend (Light/ Medium Toast Hybrid Cask), 4.3% 13 year old Highland Malt Blend (Refill Hybrid Cask) and 15.6% 13 year old Highland Malt Blend (Heavy Toast Hybrid Cask)

The Highland Malt Blend {60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, 20% Teaninich}

Tasted: Oct 2016

A lovely nose of rich, toasted oak spice mingles with some subtle sherry spice. Hints of berries, apricot, barley, pecan, brown sugar and honey with some gorgeously dusty American oak and pure vanilla. Complex, fragrant and evolving. Late hints of baked apple and orange.

The palate opens with the supple, toasty oak, vanilla and barley, followed by brown sugar, tart apple, apricot, ginger and sherry spice, along with hints of almond, lightly raisinated fruit and more spice. Long and remaining spicy and toasty with lingering, subtle sherrried fruit and coffee. A serious Extravaganza!


Compass Box The Lost Blend 46%

Clynelish, Allt-A-Bhannie and Caol Ila aged in American oak as a homage to Eluthera.

Tasted: Oct 2014

A beautiful nose of fresh, peeled apricot, orange and lemon. Quite herbal an sweetly peated with hints of malt, toffee and beachwood smoke. Beneath is the dense, lightly honeyed Clynelish, with the Allt-A-Bhannie adding a grassy note. With time some dusty American oak comes through giving the aromas a lovely maturity.

The palate is sweet and rich, leading with the honeyed Clynelish. Oily, lightly tarry violets and gentle, sweet but gritty peat follows. It freshens towards the middle as the salt and herbal notes arrive, but the oils balance wonderfully. Stunning depth and length with a light, sweet spice and mature American oak finish plus lingering salt and light peat. Wow! That’s good.

Compass Box, The Lost Blend 46%

Re-Tasted: Jan 2015

Nose: Plenty of floral honey and aromatic apple and apricot greet the nose. A gentle seem of lightly medicinal peat runs through it but doesn’t dominate, it accentuates! With time a touch of crunchy, sugar coated barley and lightly dusty, toffee’d oak emerges.  

Palate: Fuller and grittier than the nose with some stout tannic spices on show. There is a touch of mature honey but the oak really comes through on the middle. However the barley and fruitiness of the spirit just about balance that.  

Finish: Very long and citric. Quite mouth-watering with the light peat and violets putting in an appearance. A little drying and salty – That’s an intense finale!  

Conclusion: Bottled in the nick of time. Any longer in the cask and the oak would have had its way completely with the palate.


Compass Box Flaming Heart (2015 Release) 48.9%

Blended Malt – 27.1% 30 year old Caol Ila (Refill American Hogshead), 24.1% 20 year old Clynelish (Rejuvenated American Hogshead), 10.3% 7 year old Highland Malt (New French oak hybrid barrel) 38.5% 14 year old Caol Ila (Refill American Hogshead)

Btl: Aug 2015/ Tasted: Oct 2015

The nose opens with plenty of slightly medicinal and mature Caol Ila. Sweet barley balances along with a touch of sweet apricot, apple, herbal accented wood and peat smoke. Lovely balance of maturity and freshness with a late earthy-peat, soil and spicy, taught French oak notes.

The palate is quite barley led with soft apricot, apple and gentler medicinal notes. Seriously mouth-filling and broad with some lovely, grippy spiced French oak middle with gentle smoke, earth and mature fruit. Very long with the citrus and warming spice notes lingering. Lightly sooty and smoky after-taste.


Compass Box ‘Enlightenment’ 46%

48.2% Clynelish (First Fill ASB), 36.7% Glentauchers (First Fill ASB), 10.8% Balblair (First Fill ASB), 4.3% Mortlach (Rejuvenated ASB)

Btl: 2016/ Tasted: May 2016

A lovely, fresh and sweetly barley’d nose with apple, lime (Clynelish/ Balblair). Hints of honey, minerals and grist follow along with some weighty Mortlach notes, creamy oak and toffee.

The palate is full and barley’d with apricot, apple and subtle citric and grassy notes. Although there is just a small percentage of Mortlach it makes its weight felt, along with some lovely honeyed Clynelish. The oak is well behaved and adds a light grainy/ warm spice toastiness. Good length with lingering spice and a suggestion of baked apple. In conclusion: it’s a lovely blend of Speyside fruit and Highland character.

Compass Box Enlightenment Blended Malt Scotland 46%

Re-Tasted: Sept 2016

Nose: Lovely, mature, dusty oak and barley is balanced by a thread of lithe gooseberry and lime. Hints of fragrant apricot, toasty oak, vanilla and subtle mineral notes appear with time.

Palate: Opens with the creamy oak and mature almost tropical fruit (apricot, banana, melon). Wonderfully luscious and juicy but the citrus and mineral notes add a touch of austerity.

Finish: Long and succulent with the mature oak returning and lingering citrus and minerals.

Conclusion: An exceptionally well crafted vatted malt with a lovely balance of maturity and youth.


Compass Box 3 year old Deluxe Blend 49.2%

Blended Malt – 0.4% 3 year old Clynelish (ASB), 90.3% 24 year old Brora (Refill Hogshead), 9.3% 20 year old Talisker (First Fill Sherry Butt)

Tasted: Oct 2016

The nose displays a subtle melding of violety peat, waxy orange, stewed fruit with a sub-strata of rich sherried notes (dried plum, prune and raisin). Hints of lightly charred oak, vanilla and burnt driftwood follow.

The palate opens with the dusty, sweet, violety peat and the subtle sherried dried fruit. The mature malt and barley kicks in on the middle along with some orange and peppery spice. Mellow but beautifully intense with a long, oily, fruit, yet crisp finish with the dusty peat returning and a little bittering from the oak. Superbly balanced.




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