Compass Box - The Spice Tree
Somewhat controversial whisky produced by the self-named whisky makers, the Compass Box Whisky Company, originally introduced in 2005, it was a result of the experiment of inserting additional French oak staves inside the casks in which it was matured. The watchful eye of the Scotch Whisky Association was quickly drawn to this new experimental whisky and found that this method is contrary to the strict rules regulating scotch whisky, and therefore, illegal. So, the Compass Box took some time and readjusted the recipe and the method, making it legal under the legal requirements and the Spice Tree was reintroduced in 2009, with second maturation in casks containing heavily toasted new French oak heads – called the hybrid casks.
The whisky comprises of three highland single malts: Clynelish (60%), Dailuane (20%) and Teaninich (20%). These malts are blended and are then re-casked and matured additionally in four different casks types: your standard first-fill American standard barrels and three special hybrid casks each charred to a different level in order to impair vanilla, infrared and high mocha toast levels, as well as. After additional ageing of two years, in these barrels, the Spice Tree is ready to bloom in your glasses.
Nose: Seductively sweet, rich and velvety. With the addition of water cappuccino and coffee, notes emerge.
Palate: Dried fruits and fruitcake. Whiffs of apple chips and bananas. Cappuccino and coffee. Very waxy and thick – hello there Clynelish! Massive honey flavour, like eating a spoonful of honey with grated ginger. After a while, I started to recognize some chocolatey and buttery notes. Spicy notes appear towards the end – I can` t pinpoint the exact aroma, maybe nutmeg comes closest.
Finish: Fresh spiciness – it’s that ginger again but it’s not coated in honey. Very rich and lasting.
Mixology: I haven’t tried it in cocktails but I think it would be a killer with some ginger-based cocktails or classics like Manhattan. I did try it with some water – I wasn’t conservative about it either, so I mixed to almost half and half, and I have to say it handles the water very well – the distillates used in the blend are all known for their powerful “bodies”, so they are not watered down easily.
Final Verdict: Interesting and different, Spice Tree is a very carefully created whisky which will appeal to experienced whisky enthusiast and people unaccustomed to whisky alike. It isn’t too expensive so it’s a great allrounder drink that can always be stocked in your home bar. Strong recommendation.
The Drunk Flamingo