The Connosr tasting panel sample Compass Box whiskies
The subject of this issue's tasting panel are five whiskies from Compass Box. The panel, made up of Connosr staff and community members will meet regularly to sample the featured distillers' output. If you'd like to get involved drop us a line.
Meet the panel
The panel convened at a West London location but that didn't stop one member from Belgium from joining us via video link up.
This issue's panel were Stuart Robson AKA Stu_R, Olivier Kaempfer AKA OJK and, joining us via video link, Mark Dermul AKA markjedi1. As well as the community members the panel was completed by Connosr founders Pierre Thiebaut & Jean-Luc Thiebaut.
Meet the whiskies
Asyla - “The Picnic Dram”
An outdoor whisky, not for drinking on the rocky shore of a Scottish isle but rather for a summer's afternoon in an orchard.
Nose: melon, gooseberry, apple, banana and pencil shavings.
Taste: dryer than the nose suggests, fruit less prominent, slightly oily.
Finish: pleasant but not overly long.
This is an uncomplicated, easy drinking blend. It doesn't blow you away but then it isn't trying to. In terms of what it sets out to achieve it hits the mark. A good dram to start the tasting.
Hedonism - “Not as hedonistic as you'd hope”
Some of the panel had tried Hedonism before and expected great things. Sadly this particular batch fell slightly short.
Nose: a little rushed with a chemical note, new wood, bourbon character and some rubber notes.
Taste: more impressive than the nose with an initial rich explosion. Creamy with a taste of shortbread but short lived.
Finish: copper, oak and minerals but fades relatively quickly
Overall the least impressive of the night given the weight of expectation – for this particular batch the name is a slight misnomer. This needs to be a tad richer and longer on the finish to be truly hedonistic.
Peat Monster - “Easy Islay”
This one divided opinion - some saw an immediate place for it in their cabinets, and felt that for an every day peated whisky this was perfect, others would prefer to go for a straight up Caol Ila or similar.
Nose: candied smoked eel (no really!), banana, seaweed, sweet peat notes and lemon peel.
Taste: smoked ham, hay, a metallic edge, like a deluxe version of Black Bottle.
Finish: balanced and peaty.
A lot has been said about the name of this whisky being misleading. If you're looking for an overly peated beast then Peat Monster isn't it. If however you are seeking a well constructed, easy drinking, lightly phenolic whisky then this could be the one for you.
Oak Cross - “Punching above its weight”
Despite being up against its big sister The Spice Tree, on the night this really impressed the panel - especially taking into account price. A thoroughly modern whisky, engineered and precise.
Nose: wood shaving, lime cordial, spice, herbal sweets (Ricola), maple syrup and menthol
Taste: bitter peanut “skin”, charred wood, oak embers, dry spice. Medium bodied.
Finish: dry, very oaky (a tad to much for one panel member) but adored by everyone else.
Full of character, complex and richly flavoured but still with some youthful vigour - an exceptional whisky. Not Spice Tree lite but rather her sparky younger brother.
The Spice Tree - “1950s femme fatale”
One of the panel insisted that if this whisky was a film character it would be a film noir femme fatale – voluptuous, sensual & irresistible.
Nose: brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, has a strong resemblance to Oak Cross but with more integrated wood.
Taste: not as lively as Oak Cross but that's not to say it is in any way subdued. Big, deep and balanced. Spicy with notes of orange & vanilla.
"This is how to make a rich sensual whisky without resorting to sherry" commented one of the panel - luxurious and modern. Exceptional.