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Compass Box Flaming Heart 10th Anniversary

Average score from 6 reviews and 12 ratings 90

Compass Box Flaming Heart 10th Anniversary

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@MaltActivist
Compass Box Flaming Heart 10th Anniversary

Compass Box are known for their unusual flavor profiles and their magnificent packaging. Sometimes they fall short but mostly they hit it out of the park. And this one has home-run written all over it.

A marriage of three different single malts, aged in American and French oak this has possibly one of the most complex noses found on a blended whisky.

The smoky peat, black salt and diesel hits you first. The sweetness comes through next on the back of marzipans dipped in creamy chocolate syrup in a stew of apples with a drizzle of pineapple citrus. Finally a touch of cigar box and tamarind for that extra layer of complexity.

The silky smooth delivery is chocolate sweet with candied orange brittle held together by that wonderfully balanced peaty smoke.

The oily finish is as complex as the nose with woody cinnamon on sandalwood and something a smidge bitter.

I would love to know what went into making this gem!

Sheer class.

@markjedi1

Flaming Heart is a blended malt, put together from whiskies that matured on refill bourbon casks, heavily charred French oak and a couple of sherry casks. The precise malts used is a well kept secret, although we do know that it contains a southern coast Islay malt and some Clynelish.

Hmm, the nose takes you directly to Islay. The peat and the salt are the first things to emerge. But not in your face and nicely upholstered by creamy beeswax, apples and even a slice of banana. A gentle diesel fume, which works wonderfully, not detracting at all. Some menthol and some green tea. This is very complex.

The attack is powerful and peppery, again lead on by the peat. But on the palate, it turns even more complex than on the nose. All kinds of citrus, but also marzipan, cough syrup and liquorice. Midpalate it turns quite salty. A slightly tropical note in the background vainly tries to break through. Mightly, smoky, mysterious malts.

Even in the long and warm finish, it does not lose any of its power. Smoke, salt and sweetness linger for quite a while.

Brilliant whisky, really. John Glaser knows his stuff. Around 90 EUR. Recommended!

Great review as always. I just had a sample of this after the Sunday dinner. It is simply delicious! Lovely, sweet and salty waxy smokiness, with a lot of things going on, I found salted and roasted nuts, scallops, even some mint in the finish! Very tasty. I did not know what it contains but immediately thought of Clynelish. Too bad I only have 3cl..

R

BOTTLED AUGUST 2012

Not sure which version I have here, but this scotch deserves some thoughtful analysis.

Firstly, I'm quite happy with the ABV up rather high. Not only is it a terrific value for my wallet, but it allows me to add water to suit my taste, rather than the accountant watching his bottom line in the office of a distiller, who then pockets the difference.

Lately, I've become more and more comfortable with the process of adding filtered water that I leave out overnight so that the chlorine gas evaporate.

The trick for me was learning how to add just a little at a time after the initial taste. Waiting in between teaspoonfuls is also a matter of grace. Flaming Heart demands a little of one's time. Letting the whisky acclimate to one's glass is worth the wait. You know, with whisky like Flaming Heart, it's worth preparing my water ahead of time: Room temperature, filtered, no fluoride, and no chlorine gas.

The higher ABV of this whisky also offers the blend (actually I still prefer to call it a "vatting" since it's all single malt, sue me) as a craft presentation with a very handsome label that reminds me a little of some medieval art I've seen, and a little of the Goya engravings from Spain.

This is a nice bottle to leave out atop one's cabinet. Mine is now next to a bottle my friend brought back from Vietnam with rice wine inside featuring a real baby cobra biting the tail of a real black scorpion. The bottle's presentation didn't start out with the scorpion's tale inside of the cobra's mouth. This happened quite by accident when my dog knocked the bottle off my coffee table a few month's ago. When I picked it up: voila. Kind of archetypal.

Anyhow, getting back to this review, I really like the way Compass Box takes three different whiskies (aged in bourbon casks, sherry casks, and French oak casks) and then blends them together. In my estimation, this adds an impressive degree of complexity and depth to the blend, as you will see from my tasting notes (below).

The nose reminds me of my bottle of Talisker Distiller's Edition (12 year, I believe?), which also feature some slight sherry influences. I also get a sense of summer fields with the grass dried and fragrant. To me, this is different slightly than "hay," which has a more musty scent. I get a bit of warmed soil and living grass in my glass of Flaming Heart rather than simply hay bales.

Why? Well, as a teenager, I worked in cattle ranches in Wyoming and Oregon bailing hay. Here in Oregon, I also have friends with cattle who keep hay in a barn. The smell of open fields with a faraway horizon is quite nostalgic for me. I know the difference due to experience.

I also get a really enjoyable mixture of barley grain and fruit in the nose. The fruit is hard to pin down. There are elements of "savory" fruits, like Papaya and Mango, as well as a bit of a sweeter fruit such as Bing cherries or even cranberries.

And yes, there is smoke and peat, as well, but it is not front and center on the nose. It is lurking there like a lunker, deep beneath the surface, that is too smart for the average fisherman to catch.

On the tongue and in the mouth, the peat really comes into its own. It reminds me a little of the smokey beach flavors of Caol Ila, but in a more sophisticated way. Then comes the bitter-sweet admixture of woody sherry, aged leather (the kind on a book binding) and some hints of the Spice Islands, such as cloves and All spice. I also am reminded of a very very slight hint of dried lemon peels that swirls through a luxuriant mouth feel with a nice oily consistency that reminds me of Springbank's fantastic triple distilled gems, in terms of the way it coats the mouth pleasantly.

This mouthfeel flirts a bit between a smokey peaty side, a fruity side, with an indefinable context that also conjures up a scent I remember while making sand candles as a boy (wax and hot coffee can tin) to melt the wax and then sand to form it into Christmas presents for relatives. Actually, the taste of the whisky (which reminds me of that smell) lends itself to nostalgic associations.

The finish of Flaming Heart is no disappointment, that's for sure. There is a certain nutty flavor that reminds me a little of macadamia nuts, and then the nuttiness yields to a kind of paraffin smoke that is vaguely industrial in a nice way (not unlike certain pleasing aspects of a Hazelburn CV finish).

After all of that, I'm left with an herb-like bready essence that reminds me of the smell of Italian bread with rosemary, lemon, and pork baked into it.

As for Flaming Heart, I'm glad that I got this bottle. What a great one to enjoy on the porch, sometimes with a cigar. I won't be drinking it while I watch television, that's for sure. To me, it seems like more of a leisurely scotch.

I'll save my my Aberlour 12 year non chill filtered, my Peat Monster, or my personal Caol Ila & Highland Park 12 Year vatting to sip while I watch the complete 7th season of Dexter that is waiting on my desk. I consciously chose not to watch the seventh season on cable this year so that I could "marathon" my way through it.

I mentioned Hazelburn because it too has some of the mezcal overtones that you mention. My bottle isn't a "face smacker" but the peat is certainly a palpable presence. What's the bottling date on yours?

I'm enjoying having Talisker DE and this bottle open at the same time. Good to hear from you, Onibubba.

This should be the 4th edition (the label looks gold), which was bottled in 2012. The 10th Anniversary (3rd edition) was bottled in 2010 and does not have a golden covered label. Great stuff either way.

@valuewhisky

This is indeed the 10th Anniversary (3rd Edition). Generally I find that my whiskies are best right after opening the bottle - they generally "pop" and "zing" then, and then get a little dull after a few weeks or months. In this case, Flaming Heart was very sharp and muted the first couple drinks, then after a couple weeks it mellowed out and "opened up."

Nose: More Clynelish than Laphroaig. There is definitely some ash and soot in the background, but no peaty-iodine blast like an Islay whisky. I know this is a played-out tasting note for Clynelish, but candle-wax really is what jumps out at me. Also, pears and apples. Parsnips. Yeah, I said parsnips. It's a solid nose - nice, intriguing. Not one of my favorite noses, but above average for sure.

Palate: Ashes and Diageo cask-wood. Yes, Diageo cask-wood is a definite signature - go taste a few Diageo whiskies if you don't believe me. Plenty of honey, but I don't find this to be very sweet. It's balanced, and definitely not favoring the sweet. The mouthfeel is very nice - not thin, not watery. I find this to be a difficult whisky to pick out any secondary tasting notes on the palate.

Finish: Bitter ash and oak slightly win over the honey sweetness. Decent length. Good, but not delicious, if you know what I mean.

Miscellaneous complaint: The bottle is too tall for my shelf!

Thanks for the comment, MCM. I probably should have given more background; guess I was feeling lazy last night! Compass Box never tells you exactly, but they give you more hints than most blenders. Here is there fact sheet: compassboxwhisky.com/pdf/…

Primarily whisky from the villages of Brora and Port Askaig. Brora is certainly Clynelish. I might have guessed Caol Ila from Islay, but there is a high percentage (34%) of first-fill American oak, which screams Laphroaig to me, knowing that Compass Box does use Laphroaig (e.g. in Peat Monster). If it were Caol Ila (Diageo) it definitely wouldn't be first-fill oak. Lastly they mention Isle of Mull, which is Ledaig, but I don't have any tasting experience with Ledaig.

Oops! I guess that Caol Ila is the Port Askaig distillery; Laphroaig is in Port Ellen. So, I'm not really sure where the first-fill American Oak is coming from, unless Compass Box finishes in it. That's why it tastes more like Caol Ila than Laphroaig ;-)

@Victor

Thanks to @Numen for the reviewed sample. Flaming Heart 10th Anniversary is a 'pure/vatted/blended malt' whisky. Some of the whisky is aged in new French Oak

Nose: sweet, peaty, spicy, floral, and malty in perfect balance, like an exquisite potpourri in a malt nose. This does not wander around at all, but presents a finished constant beautiful static fabric. A masterpiece of blending

Taste: strong sweet peat on the palate immediately, with nice Islay briney-medicinal notes, but not too much. This remains graceful, and shows a level of wood spiciness unusual in Scottish whiskies

Finish: nice strong descrescendo finish. All the elements hold up a long time, with the peat flavours being strongest at the end

Balance: what's not to like? This is a beautiful vatted malt. The balance is quite lovely, especially on nose and palate

n

Nose: smoke more than peat, but also a light, refined creaminess with fruit. Grapefruit, lemon drops and lemon cream. Lively and fresh. The fruit plays a bit nervously under the smokiness. It comes out at times, and also hides behind it. You can tell that there's a spirit there, but it just tops in at a pleasant level. More of 'hay' in the smoke, and a slightly coastal quality.

Palate: No water needed, and really should be avoided. A little deliciously oily. Delicious. The smoke, unsurprisingly, leads, but quickly pulls up like a theater curtain, giving way to the complex performance underneath. A trace of smoke remains, adding a seductive quality, drawing attention to the lovely display below, but also creating an appeal for more smoke - thus it's the perfect amount. Flavors of lemon (creamy), flaxseed oil, vanilla, and oak. Other fruit is also present, papaya and mango, but very calm. There's also some bitterness, but more in a balancing way on the palate.

Finish: Like the palate, but more refined. The fruit and grapefruit become more obvious, as does the creaminess, and it melds with the smoke to create a really gorgeous finish, and more than the blend of its parts. A+

I'm not going to lie; I went nuts over this. I called up a bunch of folks to rave about it, and I did buy a bottle of the 4th release. I'll definitely get another bottle or two when it hits the US in a few weeks. It's supposed to go for around $100, and it's a bargain for the quality. It's more on my palate, liking something a little sweet, but the smoke with it is just perfect. The Caol Ila smoke works brilliantly with the Clynelish fruit and hay. My biggest challenge with this is simply that it did not make for a good night-cap because it really got me energized. Really just great stuff and easily one of my favorite whiskies period.

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