Matt and I have discussed, at length the merits of offering reviews on whiskeys that are no longer available. The argument against it is that if we review a dram that is out of this world then it would offer nothing to our readers but frustration at not being able to procure such a fine spirit. This was our stance from the outset of Whisk(e)y Apostle.
As time went by we started thinking about this idea in a different light. We realized that there is something to offer our readers by reviewing the occasional rare whiskey. From a collector’s standpoint there are other resources available offering assistance in how collectable or valuable certain whiskeys are but rarely anything on taste. (As a general rule, we here at Whisk(e)y Apostle do not advocate the collecting of whiskey. It is made to drink after all!)
So if you find a rare bottle of whiskey, how are you to know if it’s worth purchasing for the purpose of consumption? That’s where we hope to offer what little assistance we can. Matt and I aren’t exactly rolling in dough so this will not be a regular part of our reviews but we’ll do it whenever we get the opportunity.
To kick us off we thought we talk a wonderful whisky from Compass Box called The Spice Tree. There is an unfortunate story behind why this great whisky is no longer in production. I’m not going to reproduce the sad tale here but if you are interested further information can be found here (in the “Past Whiskies” section).
The Spice Tree
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Formerly produced by Compass Box Whisky Company
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky46% ABV/92 Proof
What the distillery says:
A natural, deep, gold-brown color and a rich nose with spices such as clove and nutmeg, and sweet stewed fruits. Palate is soft, sweet, deep and rich with a malt whisky fruitiness embellished by rich spice. Very long.
What Richard says:
Nose: Scotch rolled in a warm bourbon blanket? If I didn’t know what this was it would really keep me guessing. Water opens up the nose to honey and floral sweetness. Quite lovely.
Palate: The wood is the first and last thing you taste but not in the way you might think. It’s not the tired over wooded flavor of an over aged whiskey. It’s more like carrying your dram on a walk through the forest. It’s a fresher wood taste. There is a minor honeyed sweetness that almost hides from you. The spice there but much more understated than the name suggests. There are a lot of nutty flavors and at the very end of the palate I swear I get a hint of spearmint.
Finish: Much smoother than I expected but that really is par for John Glasser’s work. Spice, nut, and wood remain after the palate is emptied. It’s almost like peppered walnut bark.
Comments: As unfortunate as it is, this is a discontinued product. If you happen across a bottle at a reasonable price I would highly recommend picking it up. I can’t give it a “Must Buy” because of the scarcity but it really deserves top honors.
Rating: Must Try
What Matt says:
Nose: Fox glove honey, caramel, wildflowers, and cardamom.
Palate: Like drinking a nice cup of mulled cider by a fresh cut Christmas tree. Wood, evergreen, mulling spices, cooked fruit (apples and apricots). The ultimate ‘comfort’ whisky. Complex without being uppity.
Finish: Oak, white pepper, and pecan husks linger with a touch of caramel sweetness. This whisky is incredibly smooth with very little burn on the tongue or in the throat.
Comments: My official rating for this will be a “Must Try” for the reasons that Richard states above. However, if you see a bottle of this, buy it. If you see two, let me know. I will buy the other one. I love this whisky and lament it’s passing. When the last drop falls from my bottle, I will shed a tear.
Rating: Must Try
Overall Rating: Must Try
Closing Comments: A lot of discontinued whiskeys are phased out due unpleasant factors (Glenmorangie Burgundy Wood Finish) or diminished stocks (Ardbeg 17 Year) but the Spice Tree is the unfortunate victim of politics. There is little lacking in this quality dram. If you are fortunate enough to come across a bottle or dram, by all means drink up.