Compass Box Whisky Tasting 16th April 2014

With Chris Maybin
Wednesday 16th April 2014
@ Lysses House Hotel, Fareham PO16 7BQ

On Wednesday 16th 2014 Chris Maybin from Compass Box Whisky kindly ventured out into the wilds of Hampshire to host a tasting of Compass Box Whiskies including their blended whisky, the Great King Street, their full Signature range and the “odd uncle” – a Scotch Whisky infusion called Orangerie. The tasting was well attended and everyone seemed to have had a good time, judging by comments received and tweets flying around! It was a very interesting and useful tasting – Chris gave a very good introduction to whisky and it various types, which I found very useful as a general refresher course, before moving on to the Compass Box whiskies themselves.

Compass Box Whisky Tasting 16th April 2014

Looking back at my notes, a few things stick in mind from the evening.

  1. All the Compass Box Whiskies have an average age of 10 to 12 years old apart from the Hedonism which has an average of 20 years old.
  2. About 99% of whisky has caramel colouring added to it. The Compass Box whiskies are relatively pale because they have no colouring added. Obviously various barrels do add colour depending on the char or what their previous contents were but colouring is used because there is a psychological association that darker whisky is better and older. For example the Compass Box Hedonism is a light, pale golden colour but has an average age of over 20 years old.
  3. The Compass Box Peat Monster has changed since I last tried it which, I admit, is going back a few years. It is now peatier than ever and the lead malt whisky is Laphroaig (it is a blend of Laphroaig 50%, Ledaig 30% and Ardmore 20%). From memory I think the lead malt used to be Caol Ila. I enjoyed this very much. Perhaps my favourite whisky of the evening.
  4. The two most popular whiskies of the evening, in terms of bottles sold and a show of hands, were the Spice Tree and Hedonism.
  5. The category Scotch Whisky Infusion was created for the Compass Box Orangerie – it is not a Whisky Liqueur because there is no sugar added. It is a blended whisky (perhaps Asyla) macerated with orange zest, cloves and cassia bark.
  6. The Spice Tree and the Oak Cross are the same whisky with different oak ageing regimes. They are both a blend of three Highland malts – 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine and 20% Teaninich. The Oak Cross is aged in a mix of first-fill Bourbon barrels and Compass Box Whisky’s prorietary “oak cross” barrels – casks made of American and new French oak heads – for around 6 months. The Spice Tree is aged in “oak cross” barrels with toasted new French oak heads (sourced from 195 year-old Vosges forests) for up to two and a half years.
  7. The Mamie Taylor is a very nice cocktail!

Mamie Taylor Cocktail Recipe

2 oz. Compass Box Great King Street Artist’s Blend
Juice from half a lime (about half an oz.)
4 oz. Ginger Beer (Fever Tree is very good)

Squeeze the juice from half a lime into a highball glass half-filled with ice. Add the whisky and top with a good quality ginger beer. Stir briefly and garnish with some lime zest. One can also add a couple of drops of Angostura Bitters. The Mamie Taylor is named after an American actress, who is said to have invented the drink,  and was a very popular from the early part of the 20th century and predates its Soviet cousin, the Moscow Mule, by some 65 years!

Thanks, again, to Chris Maybin for a very enjoyable evening!

Compass Box Whisky Tasting 16th April 2014

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