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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s