Once again, G-LO received his weekly booze mail shipment. In the mail, he received two samples from Compass Box: the 3 Year Old Deluxe and the Spice Tree Extravaganza (and a tote bag too which he used to carry the samples over to my hacienda. We love swag!). We have reviewed a number of Compass Box’s releases over the years (the Flaming Heart 2015 and This Is Not a Luxury Whisky, The Lost Blend and the Great King Street Glasgow Blend, Hedonism Quindecimus, Bern’s Limited Edition Blended Grain Whisky), so we are familiar with their blends and are big fans of the finished product. Needless to say, we were quite pleased with the package and couldn’t wait to dive into the samples.
I love that Compass Box is thumbing its nose at the establishment by offering a “3 Year old whisky” that contains 99.6% whisky that has been aged far longer than three years. On the face of it, you would expect something raw and unfinished, when in reality, Compass Box is marketing a high-end product. And, who doesn’t love an extravaganza! Compass Box’s Spice Tree takes whisky from three sources and after vatting uses four different kinds of barrels to age the whisky. With the Extravaganza version, slightly less than 50% is taken from the vatting of the original three sources and three more sources are added into the mix. Additionally, two of the new sources (and almost 50% of the blend) are aged in sherry casks. This takes a really well-crafted Spice Tree and kicks it up a notch in terms of the craftiness of the aging process.
Now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s move on to our reviews!
Compass Box 3 Year Old Deluxe
Composed of less than 1% three year-old malt whisky produced near the village of Brora, 90% malt whisky of an unstated age from the same distillery and around 9% peaty malt whisky distilled on the Isle of Skye, regulations only permit us only to share details of the age of youngest component! No matter. For it is this three year-old that is most important to us. Aged from new-make spirit in our own first-fill American oak casks, it imparts a lively vivacity and represents a milestone in our development as whisky makers.
And here are our impressions…
- Appearance: Pure liquid gold in a glass.
- ABV: 49.2%
- Limpd: Alcohol vapors, woody, menthol and floral with a little mint, green apples and a touch of peat.
- G-LO: Fruity, herbally and menthol. Getting green apple, light hints of cinnamon and clove, a bit of eucalyptus and some licorice. Or, maybe it’s menthol.
- Limpd: Viscous with vanilla and apples and some sweetness upfront. There is a good bit of heat mid-palate (more pepper than cinnamon) that carries over to the nice long finish which is ever so slightly peated.
- G-LO: Ohhh! This has a bit of an oily mouthfeel going on. Me likey! It’s light and fruity with lots of spiced baked apple at the start and then “Wham!” things get warm and surprisingly spicy as you move towards the middle. Gets a bit peppery at the finish with those spice apple notes going to the background while the herbal/menthol takes over. The aftertaste is peppery and herbally, and it lingers for a good long time.
- Limp: Just a great balance of flavors that really hold up and hold together. And, I love that the name mocks the age statement convention. 0.4% of a 3 year old whisky and 99.6% of matured whisky that creates the best 3 year old whisky on the market.
- G-LO: Wow! Just wow! Because I didn’t read anything about this whisky before I sampled it, the number “3” that they slapped on the label lowered my expectations (silly me. I should have remembered that 3 Is a Magic Number!). This stuff was delicious. A delightful blend of fruit, spice and herbs. Where do I buy a bottle?
Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza
As the name suggests, the liquid draws its inspiration from our Signature Range classic, The Spice Tree, but reinterprets it through the use of older components and a significant portion of sherry-cask aged malt whisky. The Spice Tree’s trademark spice character is retained but set within a richer, more elegant frame with a new depth of flavour and complexity.
And here are our impressions…
- Appearance: Still liquid gold, but edging closer to amber.
- ABV: 46%
- Limpd: Really vapory with lots of menthol and the spices (cinnamon, cloves) and some sherry notes coming through (dried fruits, raisins, dates).
- G-LO: Very vapory at the start. Going to let this mellow out a bit. After a minute or so, it really opens up. Lots of deep dark scents of the dark fruit and baking spice variety. Turbinado sugar, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, raisins and just a hint of toasted coconut.
- Limpd: Spicy hot upfront (cinnamon) offset with some sweetness (some of the dried fruits make an appearance) that tames the heat and tempers the finish. Flavorful, but I like one that builds to the heat though the finish which was not overly long and quite pleasant.
- G-LO: Not quite as hot as I was expecting but still a touch spicy. Not as oily as the 3 Year Old Deluxe. Lots of those rich baking spice flavors along with the dark sugar and dark dried fruit at the start. Gets spicy in the middle with those ginger and cinnamon notes taking hold. At the finish, things get somewhat dry with a lingering dark sugary spice.
- Limp: I’m not sure what happened when I tasted this one. I got all the heat upfront and the sweetness on the backend. Maybe, I needed to let this sit for a while. It wasn’t bad (in fact it was quite good), just unexpected. I like sherry casks and it seemed like the sherry notes were knocked into the background a bit. I liked this one, but I have to say that I liked the 3 Year Old a whole lot more.
- G-LO: I’ve always liked Spice Tree with its oodles of layered flavors. I’m not going to say this is better than the standard issue but it definitely kicks things up a bit. Yummy!