This is an abbreviated version of a post I'll publish tomorrow
For those who don't know, Compass Box buys casks of whisky from other distilleries, blends them in precise ratios, ages them further in different casks (different cask sizes, char levels, different wood types etc.) and blends them again to create a unique flavour profile.
They never use E150A (caramel colouring) and they never chill-filter their whiskies. They also provide infographics on their website so you know almost everything about what's in your bottle. They don't disclose the age of the various components because the Scotch Whisky Regulations only permit the disclosure of the youngest component whisky. Allegedly. It's kind of complicated. Compass Box isn't perfect, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a company that discloses more information to their consumers. I've even heard that if you email them, they'll disclose the age of every cask that went into your bottle. They'll kindly ask you to keep that information to yourself, though.
So what's in Oak Cross? According to the fact sheet, its volume is malt whisky from Clynelish (60% of total volume), malt whisky from Dailuaine (20% of total volume) and malt whisky from Teaninich (20% of total volume). How does it taste?
- Nose (undiluted): very floral at first (honeysuckle?), vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, citrus.
- Palate (undiluted): medium-bodied, poached pears, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, toasted oak
- Finish: Oak tannins, more vanilla, waxy - almost like melted candle, but in a pleasant way, a hint of ginger, cayenne pepper.
Adding water or ice brings forth more floral notes and tones down a bit of the Oak “bite”. This whisky is pleasant either way. In fact, I think I prefered it in this order:
- With ice
- With water
I contacted Compass Box for more information on my bottle of whisky, and they answered all my questions. I won't re-post their answers here, per their request, but they were more open and accomodating than any other whisky company with whom I've communicated. They also answered my questions in less than 24 hours. I'm very impressed with this company. Oak Cross Blended Malt is good, but like my 1989 Montreal Canadiens, it isn't championship level. Would I buy this again? Absolutely. The price is very reasonable and the whisky is pleasant, refreshing and original if somewhat one-dimensional. It's almost all vanilla and oak spices, albeit pleasant ones. Your mileage may vary. I've had people tell me there was a note reminiscent of "baby throw-up" in here. I didn't taste that at all, but you may want to try before you buy.
@OdysseusUnbound, I laughed to myself as I opened up this review, because I had been saying to myself, "He's going to rate this 82!..." ..."...because it isn't peaty."
Baby puke in Oak Cross? I don't notice it. Thank God. But then I didn't notice it in Dalwhinnie 15 either, which is more famous for it, according to those who partake of that experience.
As blended malts go, this is a really good one. I haven't yet met anyone who disliked it. Most really appreciate it. More than 82 points worth. But it gets a "D" grade on peatiness.
My bet, @OdysseusUnbound, is this: the longer you have this bottle and the more experience you get of it, the more you will appreciate it yourself. This is mild-mannered malt whisky, basic Scotch. Many "Scotch lovers" don't like basic Scottish malt whisky.
That explains a lot...