Well, time for a quarantine culling of the many sample bottles that have somehow spawned and multiplied like Tribbles, taking over much of my whisky space (ie. my entire house). Turns out I have two samples of this one: Compass Box's first release of their No Name blended malt. Now very difficult to find (15,000 bottles were released in Sept 2017), this NAS, NCF and NC'd baby is a layering of:
- 75.5% Ardbeg in re-charred American oak
- 10.6% Caol Ila in refill American oak
- 13.4% Clynelish in re-charred hogshead
- 0.5% of a blended malt consisting of 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine and 20% Teaninich, all vatted and re-casked for 4.5 years in a "heavy toast French oak hybrid cask".
Whew. I just passed Grade 6 math.
The colour is a medium amber, very slightly cloudy. The nose is beautifully balanced between ashen peat smoke, lemon scones, toasted oak, shelled redskin peanuts and some greener woodsy notes (wet bark, green wood, damp grass). Some light honey too. Creme caramel. A little waxy. Avoid water, it just lowers the volume. Really extraordinary - given the dominance of Ardbeg and Caol Ila, I was expecting a blast; while not subtle, it handles the complexity with deft balance.
On the palate it's pretty hot, with much more peat and spice, lots of lemon curd and an oily mouthfeel. Some serious oak here too - chewy. Herbal with peppery arugula. Cloves. Lots of sea salt. The sweeter caramel and vanilla notes harmonize well with the fruit and peat. Water makes it a little too spicy so again, avoid it like a cactus. Beautiful construction.
The finish is wonderful: long, enveloping, spicy, very briny and peaty, followed by prosciutto, caramel sauce and black pepper. Is there anything this company can't do? It seems everything they produce is stellar. Thanks to Rick Culver for providing this sample (I can't recall where the other sample came from, but I'll probably give that one to Pam. Probably.)