Compass Box Tasting Notes

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Blended Scotch Whisky, Blended Whisky

Compass Box Asyla 46%

Tasted: Sept 2004

A blend of Linkwood, Craggenmore and Glen Elgin malt, plus Cambus and Cameronbridge grain, all aged between 11 and 12 years.

Clean and youthful nose, with a nice intensity of straw, cereal, yellow fruits, orange and sweet, creamy oak. All nicely balanced with a saline freshness. Dry, quite light in body, fruity and cerealy with a hint of salt and creamy oak. Soft alcohol and well balanced with a good length and a touch of spice in the finish. An ideal aperitif whisky.

Compass Box Asyla 43%

Tasted: Apr  2009

A crisp, clean nose which is initially a touch grassy, followed by delicate Speyside fruit, earth, a touch of perfumed orange, hard barley, honey and grain. Smooth on the palate, opening with the creamy oak. The grain begins to bite, with more intensity than I remember, leading to a soft, juicy Linkwood-grassy middle with brusque hints of honey. The spirity-grain returns again on the finish. It’s interesting; it feels like the malt is the sandwich filling between two layers of grain. Still very polished.

I haven’t tasted it in a long time and it seems to me that the level of grain whisky used has increased and the age has decreased, as my notes below would attest to. Also after checking on their website it would appear that the blend has slightly altered. Originally it was a blend of Linkwood, Craggenmore and Glen Elgin malt, plus Cambus and Cameronbridge grain, all aged between 11 and 12 years. Now the Craggenmore has been replaced by Teaninich and there is no mention of how old the component parts are, which would appear to support my findings.

Compass Box Asyla 40%

A blend of Longmorn and Teaninich malt plus Cameronbridge grain

Aged in first fill American oak barrel and rejuvenated hogsheads

Re-Tasted: Feb 2013

Gently crisp aromas of, lightly honey and lightly malted citrus with no shortage of creamy fist fill American oak. Hints of white flowers and tangerine with the grain adding an almost mineral freshness. Still pretty heavy on the oak but there’s a pleasant lightly earthy spice note.

The palate is soft and exceedingly creamy with oak being the focal point – vanilla, caramel and butter. The oak holds firm against a mouth-wateringly spicy grain middle, which also ushers in hints of citrus and barley. Good length with some white flower and grass notes peeking through, finally finishing with a softly spiced graininess. A lot heavier in the oak department than the last time I tasted it, but that oak is wonderfully polished.

Compass Box Asyla 40%

A blend of Longmorn and Teaninich malt plus Cameronbridge grain

Aged in first fill American oak barrels

Re-Tasted: June 2014

The nose is very heavy on the oak with plenty of creamy first fill American oak. The fruit is not overwhelmed however and estery pineapple, perfumed white fruit, banana and a light grassy and grainy/ mineral note can be discerned.

The palate is soft and creamy, a little less oaky than the nose would suggest, thus allowing the sweet apricot, pineapple and banana to come through. Lightly malty and well balanced with a very light grainy nip. Good length with the creaminess lingering and the lightly herbal grain showing in the finish.

Compass Box Great Kings Street The Artists Blend’ 43%

Tasted: June 2011

The nose opens up with plenty of sweet, juicy, grassy Speyside fruit with some subtle peat, brine and fishy notes, followed by some matureIslayfruit and burnt wood. With time the sweet American oak appears along with hints of white flowers, violets and a grainy nip.

Slightly oily, quite full and thickly sweetn with honey, grass and a touch of salt. The sweet grain hits the middle, bringing with it some creamy oak and hints of tangerine. There is not as much peat on the palate as the nose would lead you to believe. There’s really only an intimation at the end. It may sound like it’s a bit of a sweetie, but the gentle alcohol balances and it finishes quite dry and crisp.

Compass Box Great Kings Street, Artists Blend 43%

A blend of: 46% Lowland Grain, 28% North Highland malt (Teaninich?), 17% North Highland malt (Clynelish?), 9% Speyside Malt.

Matured in: 60% First Fill American Oak barrels, 26% Custom American oak barrels fitted with new French oak heads and 8% First Fill Sherry butts.

Re-Tasted: June 2014

A lovely, poised and elegant nose displaying plenty of fresh vanilla and grassy, citrus fruit. Full, robust and quite malty (possibly from the Spey component) with hints of sweet, dried fruit from the sherry butts. There is a little rich smokiness along with hints of toffee, banana, rhubarb and perfumed white fruit.

The palate is full and very creamy. Lightly nutty and malty with apricot, white fruit and a touch of citrus and grass. A lovely depth with a building spice note (nutmeg?) on the middle along with a little of the sherried dried fruit. Long and creamy finish as the oak reappears, or maybe it never left? Dry, slightly salted and dusty tannin finish.

Compass Box Great Kings Street, Experimental Batch #TR-06 43%

Tasted: June 2014

A crisp, smoky and aromatic nose with a distinct Coal Ila-like freshness. Hints of toffee, creamy apricot, vanilla and seaweed emerge along with a very light medicinal note.

The palate opens with some lightly sweetend white fruit, iodine and gentle peat smoke. Again it has an old skool Caol Ila-like freshness with a touch of light toffee coming through on the middle. Long, bracing, salty finish with a touch of medicinal seaweed.

Compass Box Great Kings Street, Experimental Batch #VR-00 43%

Tasted: June 2014

A full and malty nose with a robust, sweet, herbal sherry character. Hints of light syrup coated jammy, red fruit and creamy oak along with a toffee-popcorn note.

The palate is quite dry, opening with toffee and dried fruit. The natural caramel comes throughj strongly on the middle and flattens it to certain degree but the dense fruit attempts to counter. Long with a lightly nutty and spicy finish.

Compass Box This Is not a Luxury Whisky 53.1%

Blended Whisky – 79% 19 year old Glen Ord (First Fill Sherry Butt), 10.1% 40 year old Strathclyde (Refill American Hogshead) 6.9% 40 year old Girvan (Refill American Hogshead), 4% 30 year old Caol Ila (Refill American Hogshead)

Btl: Aug 2015/ Tasted: Oct 2015

Subtle, nutty, herbal sherry to begin with on the nose followed by Pedro Ximinez-like syrup, raisins and sweet treacle. Hints of herbal rye-like herbal Girvan grain and juicy Strathcylde dried fruit. A suggestion of smoke and a slight medicinal and vanilla oak note.

The palate is full, thick an opulent with treacle, liquorice and plenty of dried fruit. Hints of creamy American oak balances the sherry. Hints of smoke, herbal spice and sweet spice comes through on the middle. Good length with the herbal grain notes lingering and clearing away the sherry to leave the underlying sweet barley, herbal smoke and slightly bitter chocolate.

Compass Box This Is Not a Luxury Whisky 53.1%

Re-Tasted: Oct 2015

Nose: A beautifully poised, elegant, mature nose of Cognac-esque dried fruit, maple syrup and dark/ earthy tea leaves. The gorgeously sawdusty oak sits beneath whilst a touch of lime/ lemon adds freshness. Quite fruity with tropical melon, apricot and kiwi. With time a touch of butter, minty herbs and spice appears.

Palate: Quite fresh and citric with building honey and dusty oak. Just as tropical as the nose with apricot, melon and guava notes. Dusty, slightly bitter tannins come through on the middle, accentuated by the alcohol but they don’t overwhelm the palate and the balance is absolutely spot on!

Finish: Long, fresh, crisp and herbal. A little austere with some creamy oak vanillins and dusty spice attempting to offset.

Conclusion: Simply Stunning! If I was being uber critical I would have liked to have seen a little more sweetness in the finish. There’s such a fine line between being simply stunning and OMG stunning!

Compass Box ‘The Circus’ 49%

57.2% Blended Scotch Whisky Parcel 1 (Refill Sherry Butt), 26% Blended Scottish Grain (Refill Sherry Butt), 15.4% Benrinnes (First Fill Sherry Butt), 1.4% Blended Scotch Whisky Parcel 2 (Refill Sherry Butt)

Btl: 2016/ Tasted: May 2016

A mature and dusty nose of slightly violety sherry with hints of warm treacle, liquorice, marzipan, dark chocolate and baked apple flecked with ginger and cinnamon. Mellow, deep and malty with subtle dried fruit, grainy fruit and late hints of crystallised orange and dunnage.

The palate opens with the light treacle coated sherried dried fruit, cinnamon and malt. Baked apple, almond, succulent honey, ginger, hazelnuts and grainy dried fruit notes come through on the middle. Long with the grainy dried fruit, salt and liquorice powering through. Clean, vibrant finish with a touch of bitter chocolate and cocoa powder, underpinned by the lingering, ever present treacle.

Compass Box, The Circus 49%

Re-Tasted: June 2016

Nose: Subtly mature sherry with dried prune, fig, apricot and liquorice. Very deep with walnuts, earth and subtle, sweet wood smoke. With time a touch of perfumed orange appears.

Palate: Opens with sweet treacle, liquorice and prunes. Quite tannic and drying but the sweetness balances and a touch of spiced, orange conserve, prune and walnut comes through on the middle.

Finish: Long and mouth-watering with the alcohol emphasising the spices. Finally the grain component appears.

Conclusion: A heavily sherried, high malt content blend with some maturity. There’s no denying the quality but the palate just lacks a little light and shade to be truly outstanding.



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