The Peat Monster

The Peat Monster Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
46% ABV
$55 to $65
Website
ThePeatMonster-Box-Bottle
What the Blender Says:
For those who love big, rich, smoky-peaty whiskies, this is for you. Peat Monster combines smoky and peaty single malts from the island of Islay and the Isle of Mull with rich, medium-peated Speyside whisky. The result is a balanced, highly drinkable peaty blended malt Scotch whisky.

For those who love big, rich, smoky-peaty whiskies, this is for you. Peat Monster combines smoky and peaty single malts from the island of Islay and the Isle of Mull with rich, medium-peated Speyside whisky. The result is a balanced, highly drinkable peaty blended malt Scotch whisky.

Flavour Descriptors
Peaty, smoky malt with hints of fruitiness; a balanced whisky with great depth and complexity.

Recommendations
A fantastic late-night digestif whisky. Excellent with blue vein cheeses.

Distillery Sourcing
Made from a marriage of 57% Islay SIngle Malt (Smoke), 34% Highland Single Malt (Smoke, Maltiness), 29% Island of Mull Single Malt (Peat).

Wood
Refill American oak.

Bottling Details
Bottled at 46%. Not chill filtered. Natural colour.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Here’s the monster! Large but balanced doses of smoke, soot, tar, and brined capers.
Palate: Here’s where the monster sleeps. As aggressive as the nose is, the palate is more delicate. It’s a little chewy with notes of blood oranges and fresh hay.
Finish: The monster returns! Quickly the finish hits you a little hot but a dash of water will calm the beast. There’s a big does of peppery spices that lingers.
Comments: If you’ve followed the blog here for a while then you know I’m a champion of the unsung blend. I feel it has been sidelined to it’s single malt brothers. You’ll also probably know that I’m a big fan of John Glaser’s work at Compass Box. With those two things reiterated I’m going to go against my own grain on this one. Peaty whiskies, and I do like them, I tend to prefer as a single malt. I just haven’t had many really peat-centric blends that I would pick over a single malt from Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, etc. The Peat Monster is no exception. It’s a fine dram and it’s make up and balance stand out among peers but I’m not loving it. It’s really the finish. The nose and palate are a great interplay but the finish to me is unbalanced, too hot, and way to much pepper smacking you in the face.
Rating: Stands Out

Spice Tree

Spice Tree Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
46% ABV
$55 to $65
Website
SpiceTree-Box-Bottle
What the Blender Says:
Our storied malt whisky The Spice Tree is made from Highland malt whiskies which we age in custom-made casks fitted with new French oak heads. We source this oak from a mill in the Vosges which produces some of the highest quality cooperage oak for winemakers. The result is a big malt whisky of richness and spice-like complexity.

The Second Coming.
First launched in 2005, we were forced to discontinue production under a legal threat by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) for our pioneering use of the highest quality French oak inner staves. This, despite rave reviews from consumers, trade and press. We agreed to disagree with the SWA and halted production (for the full story, see www.compassboxwhisky.com). Over the following three years we developed a new maturation process which yielded similar if not superior results to our previous method, and this new process is something the SWA can’t take any issue with. The Spice Tree was then relaunched in September 2009.

The Whisky & The Method.
As in the past, The Spice Tree is made from 100% malt whisky sourced from northern Highland distilleries, (notably and primarily malt whisky distilled in the village of Brora). 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 we did for the original Spice Tree, we rack the whisky into barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads. We have created a method for getting a super heavy toast on the cask heads which imparts a flavour profile similar to the flat staves used for the original Spice Tree. We use oak with three different levels of toasting on the barrel heads, thus allowing us to blend the resultant whiskies to create additional layers of complexity. This secondary maturation lasts as long as two years.

The Spice Tree is a very rich whisky, suitable for after-dinner sipping, as an accompaniment to certain cheeses and, especially, in cocktails.

Flavour Descriptors
Big, sweet aromas of clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. The palate is full, round and sweet, with the spice and vanilla complementing the core distillery characters and leaving a long finish.

Distillery Sourcing
Made entirely of Highland single malt whiskies from the villages of Brora – 60% (fruitiness), Carron – 20% (meatiness) and Alness – 20% (perfume).

Wood
Primary maturation: first-fill and refill American oak. 20%
Secondary maturation: custom barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads sourced from 195 year-old Vosges forests. 80%

Bottling Details
Bottled at 46%. Natural colour. Not chill filtered.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Meaty with what reminds me of hard candies in exotic fruit flavors. Honeysuckle and orange blossoms are there if you wait a while for them to unfold.
Palate: Rich, creamy, and mouth coating followed by a swift kick in the teeth! Orange marmalade, toffee, and pumpkin pie spice.
Finish: Dry, spicy (as you’d expect!), leathery, and drawn out. Woody but not overly so.
Comments: What I like most about this is the exercise in understanding wood influence between this and Oak Cross. You’ll notice a blend that is all but identical except for the proof and wood. For me this dram is an intellectual exercise. It’s a great dram, don’t get me wrong but not my favorite of the Compass Box line. I think it also plays a little second fiddle to Oak Cross. Not that it does anyone any good but I also like the original version better.
Rating: Stands Out

Oak Cross

Oak Cross Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
43% ABV
$55 to $60
Website
OakCross-Box-Bottle
What the Blender Says:
We call this whisky Oak Cross because it offers the best characteristics of both American and French oak aging. A rich, medium-bodied blended malt Scotch whisky, Oak Cross combines vanilla characters from American oak and spicy, clove-like characters from French oak.

Innovative New Oak Casks
We work with a small mill in France that produces some of the highest quality cooperage oak in the world. It was our work with this mill that led us to experimenting with secondary maturation of malt whiskies in casks fitted with new French oak heads. This is something no one else in Scotland does. The result is whisky with more character and complexity. We use this technique on about 40% of the whisky in Oak Cross and it results in a superior finished product.

Flavour Descriptors
On the palate, notes of clove and vanilla accent a sweet maltiness and subtle fruit character.

Recommendations
Suitable as an aperitif served with a chilled water in the winter months. Full enough to serve as a summertime digestif. Excellent match for many cheeses.

Distillery Sourcing
Made entirely of Highland single malt whiskies from the villages of Brora – 60% (fruitiness), Carron – 20% (meatiness) and Alness – 20% (perfume).

Wood
All 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 (60%) and our proprietary “Oak Cross” casks made of American and new French oaks (40%).

Bottling Details
Bottled at 43%. Natural colour. Not chill filtered.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Heather, grape jam covered toast, and a back note that’s a little meaty.
Palate: Surprisingly sweet. Peaches and cream, raw cane juice, and candied pineapple.
Finish: Woody and dry like an over handled California Chardonnay and then a big whump of spicy pepper and wood that lingers a while ultimately turning almost minty.
Comments: I’m a bit perplexed. I remember this always being my least favorite of the core Compass Box range but tasting it again after several years I don’t know why I felt that way. This is delicious.
Rating: Must Try

Asyla

Asyla Blended Scotch Whisky
40% ABV
$50
Website
asyla_bottle_box-sm
What the Blender Says:
The ultimate “everyday,” “before dinner” or “Sunday afternoon” Scotch whisky. With just a splash of chilled water, this blend of soft, sweet grain whiskies and elegant, refined malt whiskies epitomises “deliciousness” in the world of Scotch whisky.

The Secret is in the Oak
The secret to making Asyla is the quality of the casks. We use only whiskies aged in first-fill American oak casks because these yield whiskies with more vanilla character, more richness and more sweetness than refill casks. Asyla is made with 50% malt whisky. There are few blended Scotches that use as high a malt content as we do at Compass Box. The result is a carefully crafted, elegant blended Scotch whisky that makes the perfect aperitif.

Flavour Descriptors
Sweet, delicate and very smooth on the palate, with flavours of vanilla-cream, cereals and a subtle applelike fruit character.

Recommendations
Ideal as an aperitif served in a white wine or similar glass with chilled water to taste. Try before a meal with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Distillery Sourcing
Single malts from the towns of Alness and Longmorn; single grain whisky from Fife.

Composition
A. 50% Lowland (East) Single Grain Fruitiness
B. 40% Highland Single Malt Perfumed
C. 10% Speyside Single Malt Fruitiness

Wood
100% first-fill American oak ex-Bourbon. Vanilla

Bottling Details
Bottled at 40%. Not chill filtered. Natural colour.

What Richard Says:
Nose: The nose is light and delicate with wisps of heather, honeysuckle, and turned apples. It reminds me of some of the mid-20th century perfumes and lotions my grandmother used.
Palate: The mouth feel is lovely, creamy and inviting. Creme brulee and fresh hay.
Finish: This whisky leaves like a long slow goodnight kiss after a date. Soft at first and then pushes in a little harder with wood, pepper, and alcohol before slowly pushing away.
Comments: Gosh, I think I have a crush on this pretty lady. This is a lovely and delicate whisky. It is easy to approach and even easier to enjoy. One word of caution though, to the peat freaks and those always looking to push the limits of robust flavor, this is probably not the dram for you.
Rating: Must Try