Booze Review

Two New Compass Box Whiskies Reviewed

The Latest From Compass Box

During many a late night drinking session, the topic of Life 2.0 has often been discussed. What is Life 2.0? The short answer: walking away from our current jobs to do something fun and exciting, i.e. a jumping-off point for the second half of our working lives.

Limpd thought he had a Life 2.0 moment when he left his employer of many years to work for a different company in the same industry. I had what I thought was a Life 2.0 moment when I received a small promotion several years ago. It turns out that what we really experienced was Life 1.1, i.e. a little more responsibility, a little more money, and not much more satisfaction. It’s like when Apple added new emoji to iOS 9; sure, they’re nice to have, but they won’t change your life. So here’s the question:

Does Life 2.0 exist? The short answer is yes, Life 2.0 does exist. And now for the long answer…

Whisky is the Water of Life. How many times have you heard that? Limpd and Peter of The Casks blog countered this with, “Whisky may be the Water of Life, but water is the real Water of Life”. I’m going to take a different approach and say that whisky is the Water of Life 2.0. Let me explain…

During our booze blogging travels, we’ve met several people that made the leap from Life 1.0 to Life 2.0, and every single one of them has done this with a little help from the Water of Life…

All six of these people have managed to embrace their love of whisky and turn it into a successful and fulfilling career. I have one more Life 2.0 story. This time it’s about a man that we’ve never met…

A former Evil Empire marketing director discovered that he was pretty good at blending whiskies, so he left his day job to form a company where he would create, bottle, and sell his own blended whiskies. The man’s name is John Glaser and the boutique whisky company (not to be confused with That Boutique-y Whisky Company) that he founded in 2000 is called Compass Box.

I have a great deal of respect for Compass Box. Their Signature Range knocked me off of my Single Malt Scotch high horse and taught me to not only appreciate a well crafted blended whisky, but it also taught me the importance of grain whisky thanks to their Hedonism expression. It’s their innovative spirit and their willingness to push the envelope that makes this company great (this occasionally means that they’ll get their hand slapped by the powers that be. Click here to find out what happened with the original release of Spice Tree and one of the two whiskies that we’re reviewing in this post).

Life 2.0 may be slipping out of our grasp as we trudge through the second half of our working lives, but thanks to a little thing called Booze Mail, we occasionally get to have some fun in the form of sampling a newly released whisky. One of the latest bits of Booze Mail to arrive in our mailbox just happens to be from Compass Box, and the names of their newest releases are Flaming Heart 2015 and This Is Not a Luxury Whisky. Here’s what we think of the latest and greatest from Compass Box…

Compass Box Flaming Heart 2015

Flaming Heart 2015

What they say…

Our fifteenth 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.

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 smouldering, spicy, complex – and so popular that we’ve re-released it four more times in the years that followed.

What we say…

  • Appearance: Pale gold color with thick, slow moving legs (kinda like ours!)
  • ABV: 48.9%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: From a foot away, I could smell the peat, so I’m a little afraid. Peat aside, I get a touch of leather, some menthol and a hint of dried fruit.
    • G-LO: With so much going on in this glass, where do I even begin? Here goes: a touch of smoke; some pipe tobacco; orange zest; marzipan; vanilla; cocoa; menthol.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Given the aroma, I was a little surprised that the peat wasn’t as powerful as I expected. Don’t get me wrong, the peat is right up there, but this is far more than a one note whisky. There is a nice blend of the smoke and the pepper with a hint of tea biscuits and confectioner’s glaze. The finish is lacking in heart but not in flavor as the sweetness continues for a long while.
    • G-LO: There’s a slightly peppery heat at first which is followed up with a healthy dose of that smoky goodness that I picked up in the nose. Vanilla and some citrus show up in the middle, but the tingly, smoky notes still dominate. Gets even more intense at the finish with all of the flavors coming together. The finish is long with lingering vanilla, black pepper, and peat smoke.

The Verdict

  • Limpd: I was really afraid of this one after nosing it. My fears were assuaged with the complexity and nuance of the other flavors that blended into a great whisky. While G-LO has dragged me to the Dark Side with all of his Islay finds, I have developed a more balanced palate and the Flaming Heart is just fantastic.
  • G-LO: This is my kind of whisky. Sweet, smoky, and spicy all at the same time. The flavors run deep on the Flaming Heart 2015. This is definitely one to savor on a cool, crisp evening. I ❤️ (see what I did there?) this year’s Flaming Heart!


Compass Box This Is Not a Luxury Whisky

This Is Not a Luxury Whisky

What they say

Inspired by a 1929 surrealist artwork, ‘This is not a luxury Whisky’ is a compelling, lingering, complex Blended Scotch packaged in a style that we hope also poses questions about what it is that makes a luxury whisky a ‘luxury’.

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.

Everyone’s definition of luxury is different, but for us, this is about as close as it gets.

What we say…

  • Appearance: Clover honey color. Given how it clings to the inside of the glass after swirling it around a bit, we’re guessing that it’s kinda viscous.
  • ABV: 53.1%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Pipe tobacco, oily rags, engine exhaust with some figs and sugar.
    • G-LO: This is the polar opposite of the 2015 Flaming Heart. Is it possible for a whisky to smell dense? I mean, I can’t tell you the last time that I was around a holiday fruit cake (or as the Brits like to call it: Christmas Cake), but this whisky most definitely reminds me of it. Dark dried fruit. Cinnamon. Brown sugar. Cigar wrapper. Candied orange peel. Clove. Black licorice. It’s all in there!
  • Taste
    • Limpd: A bit more than I expected. A lot of sugary sweetness upfront but then a big blast of smoke and spice. It was like sucking on an atomic fireball in front of a campfire, but in a very good way. The second sip reduces some of the shock, but still leaves the awe as the sweetness, the smoke and the spice blend into a beautiful finish.
    • G-LO: The look and smell did not deceive because the mouthfeel on this is a bit on the oily and viscous side. Brown sugar and cinnamon with a healthy dose of dried fruit starts things off. Some nuttiness (don’t say it!) comes through in the middle (hazelnuts is what I’m thinking) and the cinnamon heat increases in intensity. Gets somewhat dry at the finish with a lovely blend of spicy sweetness. Lots of dried fruit and baking spices linger in the aftertaste.

The Verdict

  • Limpd: This was a really well-crafted whisky. Everything seemed to work in concert. The price tag might deliver sticker shock, but this whisky is every bit as good as some of the other whisky in the $200-$250 price range. I don’t think this bottle would be out on the table for sharing, but it would certainly make my select cabinet.
  • G-LO: There’s no denying that “This is Not a Luxury Whisky” is super tasty. The aromas and flavors are deep and highly satisfying. I like to think of it as Compass Box Spice Tree went to the gym and hired a personal trainer. If money were no object (MSRP is between $225 and $250), I would love to have a bottle of this in my liquor cabinet.


Many thanks to the Compass Box Whisky Company for sending us these very generous samples!

3 replies »

  1. He said fruit cake, dense, clover, and life 2.0

    And then it hit me. Well, perhaps it hit the tiny little artists at the back of my corneas which allowed them to scribe and transmit alphanumeric and glotographic images, thereafter and almost simultaneously resulting in synaptic engagement, all of which led to the construction and presentation of the combination of participle-sprinkled words magically before you now.

    I’ve been longing for my L2.0 rebirth far too long. My L1.3.2 leaves me ZERO time to peruse my favorite blog of all things adult beverage and zeroer time to confound others with replies like this one.

    Congrats to all the life 2.0 warriors outlined here.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.