Compass Box The Spice Tree Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 46% 70cl
Compass Box was founded by entrepreneur John Glaser in 2000 - formerly a marketing director for the Johnnie Walker brand, the American has becoming a controversial figure within the whisky industr. However, his controversy is more to do with tradtionalists who are shaken by his determination to highlight the skill in blending and the transparency behind the work going into producing whiskies that use spirit from more than one distillery. For him, it's about educating the consumer, whereas there is still a large section of the industry that wants to hide behind obfuscation and marketing - ironic considering Glaser's previous role!
When it was originally launched in 2004, Spice Tree attempted to empahsise rich spicy notes in a whisky that added extra French oak staves inside barrels used to blend the malts sourced from a number of distilleries. However, the Scotch Whisky Association claimed this violated 'traditional practices' and as such Spice Tree Vatted Malt was banned for sale from 2006.
15 years later Spice Tree was relaunched as a Blended Malt (the term which replaced 'Vatted Malt' in 2011), this time using cask ends made from French oak rather than seperate staves inside. Early releases used whiskies from Clynelish, Teaninich and Dailuaine, but bottlings from March 2021 use a propreitory 'Highland Malt Blend' comprising roughly 60% Glen Moray, 25% Tomatin and 15% Balmenach, with elements from the custom barrels as well as ex-Bourbon casks.
There is a key emphasis on achieving notes of soft baking spices and warm oak - the spiciness is somewhat sweet but still intense, with cinnamon and nutmeg alongside cracked pepper and cardamom overlaid on a bed of toffee and fudge.
I desperately wish there was still the slight hint of waxiness from the older bottlings thanks to the Clynelish element, but I absolutely understand why the team had to alter the makeup due to stock availability. It's still a cracking whisky for a chilly evening!
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