Spice Tree Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
$55 to $65
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.
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.
Made entirely of Highland single malt whiskies from the villages of Brora – 60% (fruitiness), Carron – 20% (meatiness) and Alness – 20% (perfume).
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%
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