Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Whisky Discovery #93

Compass Box 'The Spice Tree' NAS (46% abv)
Blended Malt Whisky
Circa £37.00 70cl

The Spice Tree
We then moved on to our 4th Compass Box Whisky, and Spice Tree was poured, which is the third in their Signature range.

This controversial whisky was first launched in 2005, however was forced to discontinue production under a legal threat by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) for the pioneering use of the highest quality new French oak inner staves in the casks used to mature the whisky. This, despite rave reviews from consumers, trade and press. (You can find out about it all on their website)

Over the following three years a new maturation process was developed which yielded similar if not superior results to the previous method, and this new process is something the SWA can’t take any issue with.  The Spice Tree was then re-launched in September 2009 and the award winning malt whisky was back.  

As in the past, The Spice Tree is made entirely of Highland single malt whiskies from the villages of Brora (fruitiness), Carron (meatiness) and Alness (perfume). 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 they did for the original Spice Tree, the whisky is racked into custom barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads sourced from 195 year-old Vosges forests. heavily toasted cask heads imparts a flavour profile similar to the flat staves used for the original Spice Tree.

As with the other blends all whiskies are between 10 and 12 years old, which then go through the secondary maturation which can last up to two years, and with three different levels of toasting on the barrel heads, the resultant whiskies can be blended to create additional layers of complexity

The Spice Tree is a very rich whisky and the nose suggests clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. The palate is full, round and sweet, with the spice and vanilla following and complimenting the core distillery characters. Bottled at 46% abv it is not chill filtered and naturally coloured.

So what did I think?

This is the second Spice Tree listed in Ian Buxton’s book and it is a lovely drop of drammage. I would rate this as my second favourite of the Compass Box whiskies tasted on my journey to date. Great, sweet aromas of clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, and it tasted great too. The bottle label and box detailing is stunning and this would look great on anyone's whisky shelf. It's listed 'Dad's Whisky Wish List' on my fridge!

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