Enlightenment

Enlightenment Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
46% ABV
$80
Website
Enlightenment
What the Blender Says:
‘There is no desire more natural than the desire for knowledge.’ – Michel de Montaigne

Since launching the Compass Box Whisky Co., I have always been a firm believer in the spirit of enlightenment – that the more information we can share with our customers about the Scotch whisky we produce, the better. Alas, it transpires such beliefs fall foul of current EU and UK regulations, which prevent us from sharing information about the age of every component whisky used in the creation of our blends.

This whisky, Enlightenment, is our response to these regulations.

Inspired by the writers, philosophers and scientists of the Age of Enlightenment it sets out to encourage the industry to consider the absurdity of a system that prevents producers from telling consumers exactly what has gone into the whiskies they are drinking.

And of course the whisky itself is something rather special. A blend of fruity, fragrant Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, it is bursting with aromas of fresh orchard fruit, flavours of vanilla, soft spice and pear and an alluring apple peel waxiness on the finish. An uplifting, enlightening whisky with which to ponder the world of Scotch not only as it is but also as it could be.

Availability: Limited Edition release of 5,922 bottles worldwide. Bottled April 2016.
Flavour Descriptors: Fresh, vibrant and uplifting with a mouthfeel that is moreish and mouth-watering. On the nose you will find bright apple and pear, vanilla cream and light violet; on the palate soft spice, gentle citric notes and more of that uplifting orchard fruit character.
Recommendations: True to its name, this is an enlightening whisky enjoyed equally well in moments of quiet
contemplation or at the heart of a lively discussion with friends. Perfect served as an aperitif with ice and a splash of water or soda water.
Bottling Details: Bottled at 46%, Not chill-filtered, Natural colour

What Richard Says:
Nose: Heavily fruity nose reminding me of blood orange peel, apricots, poached pears and creame brulee. With time it turns more floral with notes of crisp green apple.
Palate: Light and creamy sweetness with notes of orange zest, spearmint, and black pepper.
Finish: Chalky, dry, and reminiscent of wet wood.
Comments: Compass Box blends exceptional whisky. This can be a bit of a blessing and curse when it comes to reviews. When comparing Enlightenment to scotch blends in general it is amazing. When comparing it to other Compass Box offerings it is more subtle and understated. A great, stand out whisky for sure but not the best that Compass Box has to offer. The nose and palate are very well constructed but I think the finish falls flat. I would agree with the Compass Box recommendation as an aperitif with a little ice. It helps tame the finish but hold off on the water. It kind of kills it.
Rating: Stands Out

Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary

Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
48.9% ABV
$100
Website
FH15th
What the Blender Says:
‘Every great achievement is the victory of a Flaming Heart.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since we launched the Compass Box Whisky Company back in 2000, we have always aimed to experiment, to innovate and to explore where others wouldn’t in the world of Scotch. No whisky is a greater example of this ambition than Flaming Heart.

First released in 2006, Flaming Heart was the first whisky to combine the rich, complex spice of Scotch aged in new French oak with the evocative peat-fired smoke of Islay malt. It created a genre-defying style that was mouldering, spicy, complex – and so popular that we re-released it three more times in the years that followed.

In this our fifteenth year, we felt compelled to revisit this unique style one more time. Our anniversary release is a huge, layered, long-lasting mouthful of a whisky to enjoy late into the night. Brooding, indulgent and older than ever before, this is a whisky born of oak, smoke and fire – with a big heart all of its own.

Availability: Fifteenth Anniversary Limited Edition release of 12,060 bottles. Bottled in July 2015.
Flavour Descriptors: A unique interplay between spice, sweet and smoke characteristics. Sweet fruits and wood-smoke on the nose. Fat and full-bodied on the palate with a spicy sweetness and a brooding complexity that is rich, sweet and addictively decadent.
Recommendations: This is a whisky for late nights, for after dinner, for camping under the stars. Drink it neat or pair with rich cheeses, fine cigars or your favourite rock song turned up to 11.
Bottling Details: Bottled at 48.9%, Not chill-filtered, Natural colour

What Richard Says:
Nose: A rich earthy and oily smoke rises out of the glass backed by a sweet fruitiness.
Palate: A rich citrus and stewed stone fruit sweetness punches out of the gate mixing with a slightly burnt vanilla cream. Soon the palate is transitioning though a spicy black peppercorn and chipotle spiciness into a lovely campfire sooty smoke.
Finish: This one just settles in for the long haul. “Long, lingering finish” only begins to give you a clue. That smokey palate is more subtle on the finish and fades like an elegant guest making the rounds of goodbyes on his way to door at the end of the party.
Comments: Wow! As much as I liked the last Flaming Heart edition I think I like this one even more. This really is a stellar example of John Glaser’s art. Even those who like scotch but maybe shy away from the smokier expressions might want to give this one a try. It could be a gateway toward the smokier drams.
Rating: Must Try

This Is Not A Luxury Whisky

This Is Not A Luxury Whisky Blended Scotch Whisky
53.1% ABV
$200
Website
TINALW
What the Blender Says:
This is not a luxury whisky. Or is it?

The inspiration for this limited release is René Magritte’s 1929 work “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, a Surrealist painting which challenges peoples’ perceptions of reality.

The reality is, these days we hear more and more commentators talking about ‘luxury’ whiskies, which are presumably whiskies that are either rare or expensive, or, possibly, both. On one level, similar to the role Magritte’s painting played in the art world, this release is about getting people to consider for themselves what a ‘luxury’ whisky is. On another level, a level we consider much more important, this limited release is about the liquid. This is about the whisky in the bottle, which we have painstakingly sourced and blended, and the engagement and enjoyment and pleasure this whisky will bring when shared with others. This latter point is what we believe a ‘luxury’ whisky is. And at Compass Box, this is what we believe whisky, generally speaking, is all about.

Availability: Limited Edition release of 4,992 bottles. Bottled in August 2015.
Flavour Descriptors: Complex, rich, lightly smoky and opulent. Sultanas, sweet sherry and concentrated floral notes combine with deep demerara sweetness, cacao and lighter creamy coconut character. An inviting nose, fat and full-bodied on the palate with a long, lingering sweet smoke finish.
Recommendations: This particular luxury has been designed to be consumed, not preserved on a shelf. Use it to celebrate life’s little victories – a new job, a chance meeting with a friend, the conclusion of an enjoyable dinner. Above all else, share and enjoy.
Bottling Details: Bottled at 53.1%, Not chill-filtered, Natural colour

What Richard Says:
Nose: Rich fruity aroma that reminds of cognac with the slightest back smokiness.
Palate: Viscous with a canned apricot sweetness mixing with a subtle sherry impact and smoked melon rind.
Finish: Slightly herbal with fading vanilla cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.
Comments: Luxury? Oh yes. While it stands in the shadow of the previous release The General this whisky is not slouch in it’s own right. There is more fresh, sweet fruitiness with a subtle smoky flavor. Another sterling success for Compass Box. Bravo!
Rating: Must Buy

Longmorn 20 Year Berry Bros & Rudd

Berry Bros & Rudd Longmorn 20 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
55.6% ABV
$99.99
Website

What the Bottler Says:
Built on the site of an old chapel (actually the name Longmorn derives from “Lhanmorgund” meaning “place of the holy man”) the Longmorn Distillery was founded by John Duff (owner of Glenlossie Distillery) and two associates, Charles Shirres and George Thomson in 1894, together with its neighbour Benriach.

Despite winning early acclaim for the quality of its malts within the whisky world in those days, John Duff was caught up in the middle of the great recession and he was forced to sell the distillery to John Grant (from Glen Grant). In the early 1970’s, Longmorn merged with “The Glenlivet” to create “The Glenlivet Distillers” and was subsequently acquired by Seagram in 1977.

The distillery now belongs to “The Chivas and Glenlivet Group” that have been bought by the French group Pernod-Ricard in 2001. Longmorn is one of the few distilleries that never ceased production, it even survived the grain shortages of the Second World War.

Longmorn’s malt whisky is highly prized by blenders at least as highly as those of its sister distilleries Glen Grant and The Glenlivet. Much of the production is snatched for blends, very little is marketed as single malt. It is appreciated for its complexity and smoothness of texture. It is noted for its cereal-grain malty character and its perfumed bouquet of honeyed and floral notes.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Rich, sweet dark fruits, and a slightly dry maltiness.
Palate: Sweet like a mixture of stewed and poached fruits. Grassy with notes of creme de menthe.
Finish: Dry, malty…almost hoppy and a little hot.
Comments: This expression is a little less balanced and less complex than other expressions of Longmorn I’ve tried. It is still very enjoyable and I would recommend picking one up. Longmorn seems to only be fully appreciated by blenders. Take a chance on one and I would be surprised if you are disappointed.
Rating: Stands Out

Shieldaig Highland

Shieldaig Highland Finest Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
40% ABV
$17.99 (Total Wine Exclusive)
Website
Shieldaig Highland
What the Retailer Says:
Highlands, Scotland- From an island off of the Highland coast.This unique Single Malt brings the brine and smoke to a region known mostly for more delicate malts. Rich, complex and slowly matured. Best enjoyed straight up or with a cube or two of ice.

What Richard Says:
Nose: A hint of smoke with a more vegetal and briney backbone.
Palate: Dry, salty, and savory. It’s more than a little bland.
Finish: “Smooth” if you go for that kind of thing. Really it is uninspiring and leaves you with nothing to note.
Comments: This bottle (and Shieldaig brand) are bottled for Total Wine by Ian Macleod Distillers. This is typical of ultra low cost private label bottles. By that I mean unoffensive but unremarkable. If you need a super cheap scotch then this is probably as good as any other $18 bottle. But that doesn’t mean I would buy it.
Rating: Probably Pass