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Compass Box No Name

What's In a Name? Everything!

14 592

@talexanderReview by @talexander

15th May 2020

1

  • Nose
    24
  • Taste
    22
  • Finish
    23
  • Balance
    23
  • Overall
    92

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

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.)

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5 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@talexander thank you for your review! Yes, John Glaser knows what he is doing.

2 months ago 2Who liked this?

@luckyshot
luckyshot commented

I agree, lovely whisky. Made with three great malts I always enjoy separately, but here working together makes No Name unique.

2 months ago 2Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 commented

@talexander I suspect your second unknown sample may have been obtained at one of those Epic Tastings.

2 months ago 1Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

Nice review, I think you nailed the complexity of this one. I'm glad @fiddich1980 shared this during our epic tasting.

A note of interest, the owner of Kensington wine market, Andrew, mentioned he was able to taste a sample of the parcels of Ardbeg casks that went into this blend. He said it was nothing to write home about but that the additions of Coal Ila & Clynelish really elevated them into a spectacular whole. A testament to the blenders skill.

2 months ago 7Who liked this?

Mackstine commented

Love this bottle. I actually bought 4 of them (that might have been overkill) The blending is masterful, and it was more enjoyable than the 2nd edition (for me). The other thing I like about Compass box is that they will email you the ages of each parcel if you ask. A little bit covert, and still NASish, but somewhat forgivable given that the SWA gave them trouble for posting it right on the label a number of years back. (it's technically a 9 yr by SWA rules)

2 months ago 1Who liked this?

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