Compass Box Spice Tree Whisky is a blended malt whisky that has been the subject of some controversy in the whisky trade (more below). Compass Box are a small independent specialist Scotch whisky company producing some of Scotland’s most interesting whiskies through the art of blending. Under the supervision of founder and master blender John Glaser, they choose individual casks of whiskies from different distilleries, which offer complementary sets of flavours, and then blend the whiskies in small batches. However, unlike most blended malt whiskies, the blended whisky is re-casked and aged for up to another 24 months prior to bottling.
Compass Box Spice Tree was first launched in 2005 but ran afoul of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) due to their pioneering use of high quality French oak inner flat staves in their oak barrels. These staves were deemed illegal for Scotch whisky production and, despite loads of rave reviews, Compass Box Whisky had to discontinue production under legal threats from the SWA. However, you can’t keep a good idea down for long and eventually a compromise was reached whereby Compass Box could replace the heads (the ends) of their whisky barrels with toasted French oak to try and replicate the original oak stave barrels as far as possible without breaking any SWA rules. Spice Tree was relaunched in 2009. Read the full story here.
Compass Box first Spice Tree is 100% malt whisky sourced from northern Highland distilleries (notably and primarily malt whisky distilled in the village of Brora). The primary maturation is in a first-fill and refill American standard barrels. After blending the blended malt whisky is re-casked and aged for a further 24 months in Compass Box’s unique hybrid casks. Four different levels of toasting are used for the different French oak heads (high vanilla toast, high infrared toast, high mocha toast and standard). This allows John Glaser more control over the final blend and adds additional layers of complexity. Bottled at 46%. Natural colour. Not chill filtered.