Thursday, 6 September 2012

Compass Box Twitter Tasting (Part Deux)

I was really fortunate to be chosen for the recent Compass Box Tweet Tasting last Wednesday evening. This was the second Compass Box Tweet Tasting hosted by Steve Rush @TheWhiskyWire, the first one being held towards the end of last year, before I had discovered Twitter and before I started publishing this blog.

I've tasted a number of Compass Box Whiskies this year having been first introduced to them through Ian Buxton's 101 Whiskies to Try before you Die. I first got to taste the core range at The Whisky Lounge London Fest. Then in June I managed to catch up with Compass Box in Oxford on their  record setting tasting event

Although I had tried two of the three drams received, I was really looking forward to revisiting them and to experience the new release of 'Flaming Heart' which I had heard good things about previous releases.
Just got ready before the 7:00pm start
The package containing the three generous and well present samples arrived the day before the event, I just made it in from work for the seven o'clock start, when Steve Rush and Chris Maybin, Commercial Director from Compass Box guided us through the three drams:

Dram #1 Oak Cross
Blended Malt Whisky Bottled at 43% abv
Circa £35.00 70cl

Oak Cross from Compass Box
I had tasted Oak Cross once before at The Whisky Lounge London Fest earlier this year, it was Whisky Discovery #92 of my journey. 

Oak Cross, is a blended malt whisky, and comprises entirely of Highland single malt whiskies from the villages of Brora, Carron and Alness that have undergone a unique secondary maturation in American casks with new French oak heads.

All whiskies are between 10 and 12 years old and from casks chosen individually, cask-by-cask, to ensure perfect maturity. The whiskies are aged for their primary maturation in a mix of American oak cask types. The marrying casks are a mix of first-fill Bourbon barrels and Compass Box Whiskies proprietary “Oak Cross” casks made of American and new French oaks before bottling. 

As with all Compass Box whiskies it is bottled at natural colour and non-chill filtered

A charming blended malt, very smooth with light notes of clove vanilla accent, a sweet maltiness and subtle fruit flavours. It was great to taste this again, it has a lovely creamy vanilla nose and light fruity taste. It's not my fist choice Compass Box whisky, both Peat Monster and Spice Tree are first!

Some of my favourite tweets for Oak Cross:

@GJR71 Nose: some bourbon notes, liquorice as a start. Fruity apple/pear, some grassy notes, spicy anise, cinnamon, nutmeg.
@whiskyrepublic I'm getting fresh fruit....dandelion.....touch of marzipan
@steveprentice So Oak Cross; A light floral, faintly spicy nose.. which seems to have opened up in my glass after a few minutes with fruity goodness
@DramStats Definitely vanilla. licqourice note with sweet fruit of the pineapple cubes ilk. Some grass and green apple too
@TIA568B Nose: Peaches, heather honey, slightly grassy, vanilla, cereal, oats, orange pith, floral, a hint of spice.
@whiskyrepublic I'm still getting a "meadow after rain" sweetness on the nose
@rodbodtoo Oak Cross palate: dry (really rather dry), peppery, a rounded creamy texture. Some malt in the finish

Dram #2 Hedonism
Blended Grain Whisky B
ottled at 43% abv
Circa £53.00 70cl

Hedonism from Compass Box
Another of the Compass Box range I had tasted at The Whisky Lounge London Fest earlier this year, it was Whisky Discovery #95 of my journey. It was great to revisit this as the first time I was blown away with the coconut nose.

Hedonism was the first whisky John Glaser ever made (on 23rd October 2000) and is a unique vatting of Scotch grain whiskies from top quality American oak casks it’s also unusual in the Scotch whisky world being a blended grain Scotch whisky.

It is very rare to see 100% grain whisky bottlings as today, most Scotch grain whisky gets blended into the big brand names, typically at young ages. For Hedonism, Compass Box search for old casks of Scotch grain whisky. It is only produced once or twice a year, when casks with the right flavour profile are found. It’s typically a marriage of two Lowland distilleries averaging over 20 years old. However, the combination of whiskies will vary according to batch, but whiskies from Cameron Bridge, Carsebridge, Cambus, Port Dundas or Dumbarton distilleries are used.

The grain whisky is aged in good quality American oak casks, either 100% first-fill American oak barrels or rejuvenated American oak Hogsheads. This batch of Hedonism was made up of 49% Cameron Bridge 1997, 44% Dumbarton 1993 and 7% Port Dundas 1991. All from 100% First fill American oak The whisky is bottled at 43%. It is not chill filtered and naturally coloured.

Some of my favourite tweets for Hedonism:

@CompassBox when asked about pronounciation Depends on what country you are in. Heedonism in the US. Headonism in the UK. And Edoneeeesm in France.

@TheWhiskyWire Summer & autumn berries in a cloud of coconut, showered in a finesseful flurry of crushed pink peppercorns.
@ifotou bliss on the nose, dewy grass, light watery fruits like melon and nectarines, slight vanilla and a touch of light wood
@rodbodtoo Hedonism tastes super-sweet, very smooth, creamy texture. Lovely white chocolate with extra vanilla flavour
@LRWhisky Very sweet - like those white chocolate mice you had as a kid
@DramStats From foam bananas, through coconut mushrooms to white mice washed down with banana milkshake. The sweetshop dram. Want!
@PresleyKa I'm getting a slight caramelised grapefruit jam but not as sweet.

Dram #3 Flaming Heart 2012
Blended Malt Whisky Bottled at 48.9% abv
Circa £85.00 70cl 
The New Flaming Heart 2012

This was the star of this evenings Tweet Tasting and the one that ended up being most of the tweet-tasters favourite. It was also my Whisky Discovery #157

This is the fourth release of Flaming Heart and the samples received had come straight from the bottling line and we were the first people to taste it. The whisky had not been released yet, so we were very priviliged.

This batch of Flaming Heart combines Highland single malt whiskies aged on the highest quality, new French oak, with a heavy-peated Islay single malt. And for the first time, a small portion of whiskies aged in sherry casks, providing added layers of richness and complexity. Chris let on that the heart of this blend is from Clynelish (the highland element) Laphroiag (the Islay element) and supported by a slug of Ardmore. The all important cask selection came from a combination of refill American oak (ex-Bourbon), new French oak (heavily toasted) and sherry casks.

This fourth release is again a limited edition due to the selection of the whisky available an there will be only 9,147 bottles available. Bottled in August 2012, non chill filtered and natural colour it was due for release in the UK and Europe in September and October for those in the USA

So What did I think?

It is magnificent and I just loved the Laphroaig presence. I'm still 'nosing' the empty sample bottle, refusing to wash it out until its presence is no longer detected! It is big and powerful on the nose; smoky, vanilla and spice, there is leather, charcoal, sweet rich fruits, kiwi boot polish, there's a light tobacco element and the hint of cinnamon too.

On the palate, again rich and powerful, the medicinal Laphroaig note perfectly balanced with the rich dark fruits, peppery spice and a light salty note too. This was my favourite of the evening taste wise, although I was a little surprised at the price, I was expecting this to be around the sixty five pound range, the extra £20 would certainly make me think hard before parting with my hard earned cash, but I really did enjoy it. Hopefully, if my next bonus payment is good I'll treat myself with a bottle.

Some of my favourite tweets for Flaming Heart 2012:

@DramStats Nose. First hit: Leather armchairs.
@TIA568B New leather boots, bbq smoke, smouldering grass, vanilla and pears
‏@GJR71 Nose: More aged, darker, leather, library, smouldering wood.. Fire place
@JayDieNL Some waxy smoke on the nose 

@whiskyrepublic If "nose" can have a colour & texture then this one is rich & dark...It's Jack Palance...mysterious, dangerous, loving it.
‏@ifotou light smoke like sitting next to an open fireplace while sniffing citrus fruits, lemons and limes with vanilla
@TIA568B smoke, peat, nutmeg, white pepper, sweet and creamy, dry, driftwood with orange oil and a bit of vanilla, very rich
@PresleyKa Wow, getting spices, dry fruits, dried flowers, slight of salty sea air on a fresh day. Just really makes me want to go camping.
@TheWhiskyWire Plumes of smoke juggling blackberries, peppercorns, vanilla pods and a cavalcade of winter spice

As per previous Tweet Tastings there was a great deal of tweeting going on and to see what happened search on the #CBTT2 hashtag on twitter for the full story!

Yet another great experience and another highlight of my whisky journey, revisiting two and  registering a fabulous new ‘discovery’ A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire Chris Maybin and everyone at @CompassBox as well as all the Tweet Tasters for sharing your tasting notes with us all.

If you want to be included in the next Tweet Tasting make sure you are following @TheWhiskyWire on Twitter to find out what is happening.For more information see: and

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