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Compass Box The Last Vatted Malt

Average score from 3 reviews and 3 ratings 89

Compass Box The Last Vatted Malt

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Compass Box The Last Vatted Malt

I will end my little line up of Compass Box with one that appeared several years ago. When the Scotch Whisky Association decided that the term Vatted Malt would become illegal as of 23 November 2011 (to be replaced by Blended Malt), John Glaser and his team bottled this Last Vatted Malt on 22 November 2011 around midnight in front of Big Ben in London. Rather symbolic and good PR. It is composed of 22% Glenallachie 36 year old 1974 on sherry (some say Aberlour, but that is mistaken – the official blurb says ‘the youngest of two distilleries in Aberlour’ which is Glenallachie, founded in 1967 while Aberlour itself has been around since 1827) and 78% of Caol Ila 26 year old 1984 (‘the Islay distillery in Port Askaig’ according to the same blurb) on bourbon cask.

Well, the nose is very interesting indeed. While the Caol Ila takes care of a coastal jacket with a touch of salt and moss, it’s the roasted malt and orange marmalade and all kinds of red berries, brown sugar, toffee and marzipan that attract all the attention. Pipe tobacco! But the longer you wait, the more the CaolIla shines through. I can easily smell this for fifteen minutes.

Perfect arrival, spicy and peaty with loads of citrus. Caol Ila takes over. Graphite. Hints of ashes, earth and sweet peat. Olive oil. Cardemom. Cinnamon. Oak. The whole is wrapped in a blanket of red fruit. The second wave contains dark chocolate, orange peel, raisins and dades Hint of coconut and chicory.

The finish is long and dry, making a perfect pas-de-deux between the peat and the sherry.

Oh, crap, another blend that scores a 90. We shall not make this a habit. At the same time, the Last Vatted Grain was bottled as well, but I have not yet had the fortune to try it. This blend can still be found, but will set you back around 200 EUR or more.


from a purchased sample

Nose: Interesting! A touch smoky and a subtle almost salty coastal quality. There's an underlying sweet malt base. Grassy. If you really work at it, you gt a touch of red fruit (berries); the sherry is extremely subdued. Honey, toffee, crystallized barley. Pretty obviously dominated by the ex-bourbon quality, but more other elements than the other Compass Boxes in this line-up.

Palate: Delicious. Creamy with just a bit of lemon soda water. Sugar water, thin honey, vanilla, cardamom. Soft wood. Cinnamon. Graphite and a touch of ash. Really very light and elegant. Maybe a little sherry in the recesses, merged with lightly earthy/peaty notes. Eventually, more red fruit, but it's not the strongest. Cherries?

Finish: Ashy, but all the same. There are a host of flavors here. The basic malty quality leads the way; it's very good here. The ash/peat and sherry balance it and give some balance and complexity. A very good effort.


At midnight on the 22nd of November 2011 an era has ended. The term Vatted Malt has been declared illegal, and a new term has come into life : “Blended Malt”. the SWA decided that the term vatted malt was not clear enough and replaced it with the new term. To celebrate this change and pay homage the the old and beloved term, John Glaser of Compass Box Whisky, conceived a whisky by that name : The Last Vatted Malt. This is indeed the very last such whisky to bear that name. The last vatted malt is a blend of two single malts : a 26 year old Islay single malt distilled at the village of Port Askaig aged in a Bourbon Barrel accounting for 78% of the blend (Caol Ila I guess), and an older whisky at the age of 36 , distilled in 1974 at the village of Aberlour and aged in a first fill Sherry Butt, and accounts for 22% of the blend. A very interesting blending of an old sherried Speyside and an old (but younger) Islay. Sounds, very interesting, and from the reviews I have been reading in the last weeks, should be just great.

Nose: Malty and rather meaty nose with very subtle smoke and peat almost hiding behind some thick prune juice and sultanas. Palate : Now the smoke is more noticeable with whiffs of smoke Interlacing nicely with a sweeter sherry element, raisins and sultanas with some wood polish and smoky wood loveliness. A very complex and rich mouth feel. Finish: Toffee with peat candy and smoke going on for a long time.

Bottom line:

An excellent dram, in a sexy bottle. I am sure it will be a real collector’s item, and most will not get opened, which is a real shame. the old Speyside and Islay really mix well together and the choice of casks is really impeccable, as always. Complex, classy and scrumptious. I love this. If you can afford one (it’s not cheap, but hey it’s quite an old vatting, or blending) Get it, and do yourself a favor, please open it and drink it, do not let it stay on your shelf and to collect dust. Whisky is for drinking! even if it’s the very last vatted malt.

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