Whisky Review – Enlightenment. Compass Box. @compassbox

Enlightenment. Compass Box

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£59.45 from Master of Malt 

Enlightenment. We’d all like a bit of that in our daily lives I’m sure. Well, there are only 5,922 bottles worldwide! So buy sooner than later if you like what you read below! 

Compass Box produce great blends, it’s as simple as that. This one is a blended malt whisky made up of Clynelish, Glentauchers, Balblair and Mortlach. The percentages can be seen below. I would have loved to have known the ages, but alas the antiquated and quite frankly stupid EU and UK laws prevent it. 

Nose. 

First sniff and there is a rich, juicy orange and citrus led nose. A touch of oak char. Very light pepper and cinnamon. A slight meaty background note with a suggestion of nuts. Letting it sit for a bit. A little time sat and some lovely spices come forward. Pepper, ginger, and some waxy lemon rind. There is some powerful floral elements amongst the fruit. Honeysuckle. Orchard fruits of Apple and pear come forward now, fresh and crisp. A touch of high cream content vanilla pod infused custard, drenched over that fruit. Lovely stuff. Very summery. More time and some vanilla sponge cake essence comes into the mix. 

Palate. 

Fresh citrus arrival of sweetened orange and lemon juices, a nice coating and waxy mouthfeel. It’s very yummy, and three sips in I’m still reeling over the experience rather than deconstructing it. Vanilla comes in waves surrounded by some light pepper and sweet ginger spice integrated into splashes of orchard fruit cocktail. Honey, syrup soaked fruit pieces with lots of juice. This is loud, lush, fresh and vibrant. It forced your eyes closed and a smile to form. It’s that nice. Fresh fruit intense.

Finish. 

Medium to long in length, a gentle, slow fruit demise, leaving a waxy dry mouth and some lemon peel and zest sticking around for a very long time. 

Adding water. 

Only a couple drops added to not much liquid left (it’s a compulsory sipper). The nose has a spicier and more floral edge now, still fruity, but dusted in pepper and flower petals. The palate reflects this also with some more acidic citrus fruit. The waxiness is slightly toned down in the palate, but increased on the finish. Personally I prefer this without water, but I would recommend trying both to experience the variation. 

Conclusion. 

This is really hitting my spot, as it did when I got to try it at Bristol Whisky Festival, and off the experience gained there I immediately bought a bottle when it was available. It’s high in the fruit factor. It’s all American oak, so nothing in the way of sherry richness, this is fruit juices on overload and it works really well. The Clynelish is the concentration, and I bloody love it.

Many thanks to Compass Box for the review sample. 

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Whisky Review – The Circus. Compass Box. @compassbox

The Circus. Compass Box

49% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£185 from Master of Malt (sold out but drinks by the dram available for £14.16)

2,490 bottles of the Circus has been released worldwide and is quickly selling out in every marketplace. It’s the sequel to the previous old blended whisky release, the General, which was highly regarded by all, including myself. 

The circus is made up of several long term marriage packages of blended whiskies. 2 packages of blended (malt and grain) whisky and 1 package of Blended grain whisky. With an extra consignment of first fill sherry butt matured single malt from Benrinnes. All in all the blended components were married for a long period in refill sherry butts. The split can be seen below. 

Nose. 

On first pour and sniff the age is evident and in your face. Old dusty museums, dunnage warehousing, polished mahogany. The intense dark fruit is initially in the background but quick to come forward. The sherry casks are old, you can smell it, no sulphur at all, just old school sherry maturation, intense and soft at the same time. Lots of aged fruitcake, a touch of mustiness, lots of old sherry seeped oak, cloves, soft sweet ginger. There are touches of nuttiness, but sweetly mellowed, like marzipan with icing sugar. The fruitcake develops touches of orange peel. With the next step I’m reminded of my breakfast of toast and marmalade. This has a lot going on, immensely complex, highly sniffable. One of those whiskies that should be made into a fragrance. Beautiful. 

Palate. 

Sherry monster arrival, lots of sherried dark fruits, fruitcake soaked in rum, kirsch cherries. Thick and velvety on the mouthfeel. It’s a continuing abundance of fruit throughout the development, with some spicy vanilla frosting, some clove, sweet cinnamon. A gentle, almost juicy nut oil essence visits amongst the mouthfeel. There’s some sweeter cola and extra thick honey amongst the fruit jam reduction now. Small sips of this dram go a very long way, the flavours are concentrated and intense. This is a old aged sherry monster with bite and vigour. Delicious. 

Finish. 

Medium to long length. The dark fruits and clove spice linger for a long while, intermixing with some old oak essence. Warming on the chest and reassuring in the soul, this is a feel good finish of some significance. 

Adding water. 

1 drop only. The nose has more vanilla and that drop of water has diminished the sherry quite significantly. The palate is still quite intense, but isn’t as intense as the undiluted. The finish, now softer with less of the fruit lingering. Do not water this dram. It’s perfect as it is. 

Conclusion. 

This is a stunning old whisky. I’m making a massive assumption that the packages of blends are going to be quite old indeed with the younger (guess) Benrinnes adding some zing into the mix. I would love to know the age of the parts, but either way, they are blended together masterfully and taste amazing. The General was a tough act to follow, and The Circus does it well, but doesn’t quite reach the high that the General set. It is still a fantastic old blend though. Very impressive. 

The world maybe a Circus, full of fear and doubt, but this dram makes you forget about it. Even if just for a while. 

Many thanks to Compass Box for the review sample

Whisky Review – Glen Moray Sherry Cask Finish @GlenMorayDist

Glen Moray Sherry Cask Finish

40% ABV

£22.00 from Sainsbury

Glen Moray is on my short list of favourite distilleries. Their staff are passionate, personable, helpful, open and fun! I always have a great time with Iain and Emma on the stands at all the shows they are at. While I’ve yet to visit the distillery, it is at the top of my list when I get to Speyside. The distillery has only known 5 managers in its lifetime, the current manager, Graham Coull also seems a great, open and approachable guy. I’ve yet to meet him, but had a few discussions on Twitter, always frank and fun. 

The people of the distillery aside, the whisky is pretty damn good as well! More importantly affordable. I don’t want to say cheap, because it degrades what is a eat range of products. It’s excellent value for money. The classic (bourbon cask matured) is the entry to their range. Non-age statement, and so I’m told without colouring (although I would love to see this declaration on the packaging). In addition to the classic there is the peated, port cask (bloody excellent), 10 year old Chardonnay (also bloody brilliant), 12 year old, 16 year old (bloody amazing!) and 25 year old vintage port cask finish (bloody fantastic)!

This new addition is a Sherry Cask finish to join at the same price areas as the classic, peated and port cask finish, retailing around £22 and available on line and in Sainsbury. 

Nose. 

On first nosing from the pour we get a nutty rich, citrus fruit and honey led experience. A scattering of soaked raisin and fruitcake becoming more prominent in time. Some clove spice and a background of vanilla sponge cake.

A lovely nose not too overtaken by the sherry finish, but complimented by the additional maturation. A little time and I sense some Jamaican rum infused ginger cake alongside the, now boozey Victoria sponge. 

Palate. 

A nutty dry walnut skin arrival, quickly morphs into ginger laden fruit cake, with a thick buttercream topping. A dusting of crushed hazelnuts and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings. 

Finish. 

Short to medium in length, fruit and drying nuttiness subside leaving some chocolate sauce, which fades into chopped hazelnuts. 

Adding water. 

Doesn’t need it. Drop added for experimentation. The water has weakened the whole experience and concentrated things around the nutty elements. This is not one to water. Enjoy it immensely neat. 

Conclusion. 

Another great addition to the Glen Moray base. The sherry finish enhances the classic into the field of sherry mini monster, though doesn’t overpower the lovely classic style too much. For me the Port Finish is still the winner of the set, but this comes a very close second place. Highly recommended. £22 is a flipping bargain. 

Many thanks to Glen Moray for the review sample. 

Whisky Review – Jameson Caskmates (Stout finish). @jameson_uk

Jameson Caskmates (Stout finish)

40% ABV

£25.95 from The Whisky Exchange

Nose. 

Grain and creamy richness on first sniff. Copper pennies. Devon vanilla custard. Treacle toffee thick sweetness. A light liquorice. A touch of melted dark chocolate. There’s faint background whiffs of freshly ground coffee beans. The dram as a whole smells that little bit darker, more complex than the original. A little bit of time in the glass and the darker chocolate malt and coffee notes become more apparent. 

Palate. 

A very sweet, brown sugar, Creme brûlée rich arrival, some ginger comes through in the development, lots of chocolate, malted cereal and coffee from the nose, some burnt caramel, and more in depth dark creaminess in the development taking the form of rich fudge. There’s quite an oily mouthfeel throughout. Very nice. 

Finish. 

Short to medium in duration there is a slight letdown in that there is a metallic bitterness, but this goes side by side with some lovely creamy toffee. It’s goes down very smoothly and is easy to sip regardless. 

Adding water. 

Tiny drop added. The nose is becoming creamier and fudge focused, the chocolate gets heavier, it’s actually making me hunger for a finger of fudge. The palate reflects the creamier edges found on the nose and is delightfully sweet and moreish. The finish has lost the bitterness from the undiluted. It’s actually rather bloody lovely. Ok, this one wins with water. 

Conclusion. 

Great value for money, it’s only a few quid more than the classic, and the quality is far superior. With a touch of water this whiskey really shines though, it’s a lovely, easy drinking, creamy, gorgeous thing. 

Final thoughts. (Original vs Crested vs Caskmates)

This is the last of the trilogy for Jameson for now. I’m sure there will be more to come in the near future with the relaunch of their core range, there’s a lot of interesting stuff coming out. Out of the three I’ve reviewed I prefer the Caskmates overall. It’s got some really good value for money, and one I will be buying again. 

I bought this. 

Whisky Review – Jameson Crested. @jameson_uk

Jameson Crested

40% ABV

£26.88 from Master of Malt

Nose. 

On the first sniff this comes across quite young and spirited. Reminds me a lot of single grain whisky. But with some time to settle we get more creaminess. A touch of foam banana sweeties. Lots of sweet grain. Light runny honey. Some sweet ginger and a touch of clove. Lemon juice and peel with a little oak dustiness. It’s a light, very pleasant summery sniffer. 

Palate. 

Sweet, chewy arrival, with some spicy bite. Lots of honey, pepper, ginger. A touch of sweet citrus and some sugar rich fruit bonbon sweets. There’s a little oiliness to the mouthfeel which makes things stretch a long way on the palate, a touch of dry spices at the back of the mouth, all together quite tasty and easy sipping.

Finish. 

Spicy ginger and light honey hangs around for a short-medium duration. The mouth drying spices being the last to fade. 

Adding water. 

Added the smallest drop. The nose becomes slightly more spirity and looses some of the complexity, having a more of a powdered sugar dominance now. The palate looses a lot of intensity and becomes quite watery, the development still goes places, but the oils that once were are lost. The finish is a little sweeter, more corn and less oomph. Don’t water this one, it looses more than it gains. 

Conclusion. 

This is a good session whiskey. It won’t blow your world away, but as a starter dram for a tasting it’s a great palate awakener, and that’s what I would use this whiskey for and will continue to do so until the bottle runs dry. This dram has added complexity and smoothness over the regular Jameson release. 

I bought this. 

Whisky Review – Jameson. @jameson_uk

Jameson 

40% ABV

£20.72 from Master of Malt

Nose. 

Lots of fruit and a little spice. A touch of metallic copper. Lots of dried apricot, some bitter orange skin. Light vanilla essence. Light pepper. Some creamy cereal. The youth comes across in that citrus bitterness on the nose. Nose feel has a slight prickle to the sinus. 

Palate. 

The arrival is sweet and slowly building. Lots of fruit, fresh apricot, dried stoned fruits, some cherry, peach and nectarine, light cinnamon spices. It’s very bright, summery and easy to sip. Later in the development though there is a little bitterness and harshness from the youth, but it’s doesn’t detract a great deal to the overall experience. 

Finish. 

Short, nectarine flesh and a touch of sweet pepper dust fades quite quickly. Pleasant, nothing bowled over or blown away. 

Adding water. 

Think it will kill it but try anyway! The nose seems a little spicier and more metallic now. The palate is less intensive on the arrival, and the fruits are a little bit toned down but there is a little bit of extra creamy custard chewiness. The finish is weak. Probably not one to have with water in all fairness. 

Conclusion. 

This is a nice entry level Irish whiskey, it’s perfectly good at its intentions and that’s more for long drinks and cocktails. It’s not a massive sipping whisky for me, but saying that it’s an easier sipper for the summer than some heavily sherried drams would be. I think the Jameson Crested (reviewed here) is a lot smoother and more of a sipper for summer for very little extra in the cost department. 

I bought this. 

Whisky Review – The Epicurean (Douglas Laing) @dlaingwhisky

 The Epicurean (Douglas Laing)

46.% ABV

Non Chill Filtered

No added colouring (clearly – the colour is extremely light)

£34.30 from Master of Malt

This is the latest exciting Malted blend release from the Douglas Laing camp. Following in the footsteps of Big Peat (Islay), Scallywag (Speyside) and Timorous Beastie (Highlands) & Rock Oyster, comes The Epicurean a malt blend of whiskies from the Lowlands of Scotland.  

Nose.

First sniff from the pour is quite spirit driven. Some tarty citrus fruits, mainly lime and grapefruit peel. There are some pleasant gristy cereal notes and a light dusting of vanilla and cinnamon. Young and robust from the initial nosing, will let it sit a while. Returning to the glass, crisp juicy apples and quite a clean malt now, with hints of dew coated grass blades. Cinnamon a plenty and a bakery note, with a spot of sweet ginger. 

Palate.

Quite a dry, thick arrival, with an oily mouthfeel. Spices hit in the development, some hot ginger and a touch of chilli. Then a sweetness comes through, barley sugar intense, accompanying the mouthfeel nicely, very syrupy, warming, and satisfying in a desert way. Light mixed fruits, peaches, apricot, a touch of poached pear. Nice. 

Finish.

Short to medium in duration, the syrup sweetness slowly fades and the ginger returns, with a dry, but very pleasant edge. 

Adding water.

A splash added. The nose has become more herbal, notes of dry liquorice root and crystallised ginger are prominent. The palate, now lighter on the mouthfeel has a slightly bitter arrival, with a more vegetal, herbaceous experience. The sweetness comes back in the development, but without the thick mouthfeel it feels more sugary, and less luxurious. The finish is shorter and sweeter, with a drier ending. I prefer this dram without water. 

Conclusion. 

Another great malt blend from Douglas Laing. Personally not my favourite of the collection, but undiluted it does have a nice tasty, moreish palate, with I really like. It also works great in a cocktail with ginger ale and a couple dashes of bitters. 

Thanks to Douglas Laing Co. for the review sample. 

New Cù Bòcan 1988 release imminent. @Tomatin1897

TOMATIN DISTILLERY UNLEASHES NEW LIMITED EDITION SINGLE MALT

I had a great time with the Cù Bòcan 1989 over 2 years ago now (wow how time flies). Read that review here.  Well. There’s a new one coming. It’s older and it’s still a great price considering its 28 years in sherry wood! Well worth a gander. Hope I get to try it myself! 

PR release follows:

Highland based Tomatin Distillery have announced the launch of a rare Vintage 1988 single malt as part of their Cù Bòcan range. The casks used to mature the spirit were home to a popular heavily peated Islay whisky in their past lives to create a unique limited edition. Just 2200 bottles of the malt, which have been aged for 28 years in sherry casks, are available.

Bottled at a cask strength of 51.5% abv, the whisky is described as having an aroma of campfire smoke and stewed pears with flavours of candied tropical fruits and an earthy peaty tang.

The Cù Bòcan brand is named after a mythical Highland hellhound which was rumoured to haunt the village of Tomatin and was launched in 2013 as a lightly peated alternative to the traditional fruity flavours of Tomatin single malt. This latest release follows previous limited editions including the 1989 vintage in 2014, along with the Virgin Oak, Sherry and Bourbon expressions in 2015.

Stephen Bremner, Sales Director commented:

In such a crowded market, innovation is key. We have invested a lot of time in carefully crafting a range of different expressions to appeal to new markets and push boundaries so we are delighted with our latest offering which experiments with heavily peated Islay casks to infuse our naturally light spirit with an earthy, distinctive flavour.

The Cù Bòcan standard edition has also recently been recognised at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits competition scooping a silver medal in its category. 

The vintage creation is currently being rolled out worldwide and retails at £199. A list of stockists can be found here www.tomatin.com.