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Compass Box Trilogy – Great King Street Artist’s Blend, Spice Tree + Peat Monster

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This is part of a series of tasting notes from a monthly private whisky club in Mumbai, India.

Tasting Notes from 21 August 2014

For this evening, we tried ‘blind’ different ‘expressions’ before unveiling a theme night of three remarkable whiskies from Compass Box: Great King Street Artist’s Blend, Spice Tree and The Peat Monster.

Great King Street Artisan's Blend

Great King Street Artisan’s Blend

Great King Street Artist’s Blend, 43%

  • Colour – Very pale
  • Nose – Light citrus lemon, yet sweet not tart, fresh peaches, slightly reminiscent of a Glenmorangie but more delicate and nuanced
  • Palate – Spice burn, slightly bitter with a hint of sea salt. When trying to describe the spice note, seemed like a kaccha (raw) spice that hasn’t been bhuno’ed (cooked) sufficiently… One described as ghat (strong spice)
  • Finish – Fairly limited… definitely not a lingerer…
  • Add water? The spice reduced with the fresh sweet lemon coming back full force!

Our blind verdict? A beautiful young teenager… more of a brunch drink that could be a marvelous base to a delicate creative cocktail. With its freshness, perhaps a whisky mohito?

1st expression unveiling – A delight to try such a carefully crafted blended whisky. Named after Compass Box’s headquarter’s street… the Artist’s Blend brings together mostly Lowland Grain Whisky with Northern Highland & Speyside Single Malts. Throw in first-fill American oak & European oak ex-Sherry butts, toasted French oak and we have a clear winner!

Spice it up with Spice Tree

Spice it up with Spice Tree

Spice Tree 46%

  • Colour – A bit more depth than our first offering
  • Nose – A delight! Cheese, jack fruit, more sea salt, sweet with a little zest of orange. Quite playful, with a hint rubber and vanilla. From the nose alone, speculated may have spent some time in a burbon cask…
  • Taste – Rubber, well roasted spice, yet still roguish. Some described it like the sweet spice one finds in chili chocolate
  • Finish – Much more character than 1st offering. Warm, lingering, sweet like a tumeric leaf
  • Add water?  The chili spice burns even sweeter

Our blind verdict? More of a weekend drink – perhaps Sunday evening when one can sip and savour. The finish alone is superb and worth a lazy leisurely setting. Could pair with chocolate to melt with the sweetness or perhaps cheese? Yet has enough character to hold its own with a meat course. None could quite place it, though there was a sense we have tried cousins of it.

2nd expression unveiling – Made from 10 year Highland malt whiskies with new French oak heads, perhaps the cousin we sensed is the Clynelish element? Apparently our friends at Compass Box got themselves into a spot of trouble when they first launched this remarkable blended malt. Check out more of the story here.

Comment – “The Spice Tree was more complex than I initially thought. The spices start “cooking” if you keep the whisky long enough in your mouth (just like my wife starts getting irritated if I keep her waiting long enough), and yet the finish has the sweetness of a bourbon cask (unlike the finish of my wife’s wait.)”

Peat Monster isn't so scary after all..

Peat Monster isn’t so scary after all..

The Peat Monster 46%

  • Colour – Again back to a lighter wheatish shade
  • Nose – Instant Wow! Peat, rubber, a little blue cheese …. After the first powerful notes faded, revisiting was like the waft on opening a closed closet in the rains – that peculiar queer monsoon mold odour!
  • Palate – Peat and ash with mellow spice, not so much smoky as just a well-rounded complex peat, surprisingly smooth for such a forceful dram
  • Finish – Oh baby! A peaty ash, sweet and not harsh at all…. 5 mins after sipping, it still remained romancing ones taste buds…
  • Add water? Oops! We missed trying that… somehow it was just one we enjoyed ‘as is’ without the temptation to try a few drops of pani

Our blind verdict? Yummy yummy! Well worth revisiting during those moments where you need something to just envelope in rich peaty warmth!

3rd expression unveiling – Don’t let the name dissuade you! Yes Peat Monster is peaty but it is also exceptionally balanced. Compass Box shares it combines “extremely smoky malt whisky from Islay with medium-peated Highland whiskies to create a balanced and approachable monster, but a monster nonetheless. Enjoy!” And yes… enjoy it we did!

Comment – “The Peat monster had a queer smell but was certainly not monstrous enough to scare any of us.”

Compass Box Trilogy

Compass Box Trilogy

The unveiling was a visual treat. Compass Box takes its creative design of the bottles as seriously as the blending. For several, the evening favourite was Spice Tree, however all are well worth trying!

Now… I’ve had my eye on The General but that price tag is definitely a deterrent…

For more posts on our tasting sessions and whisky explorations… check out my other blog Whisky Lady.

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