It's a dreary, rainy holiday Monday afternoon so we need something strong and peaty.
This is a cask-strength version of Compass Box's Peat Monster, bottled in 2013 for the 10th anniversary of the standard expression, which was originally created for Park Avenue Liquor Shop in NYC (and at that time, simply called "The Monster"). This particular expression (only 300 bottles were created) was bottled exclusively for the Shop. This is the last dram of the bottle, which has been open for a long time, so oxidation has occurred.
The colour is a pale, cloudy yellow. The nose surprises you with at least as much sweet, scrumptious malt as there is peat smoke. Thin honey, lemon drops, liquorice all-sorts, arugula and a squeeze of lime. Candied orange peel. An incredible briny salinity. Cayenne. Water brings out a brackish, rocky seashore. Extremely well-balanced, especially for a cask-strength peater.
Mouth-watering on the palate with peat smoke supported by lemon pith, raisin, pine shavings and white chocolate. Buttery pastry. Prickly spice. Oregano. Water provides a luxurious mouthfeel. Surprisingly gentle and balanced, this does not come across like a cask-strength whisky.
The finish is thin caramel, radicchio and lemon pepper. I mean, this is just mind-boggling - absolutely stunning construction, with layers of malt, fruit, herbs and of course, peat, all of which is in perfect formation. I've had a number of peaty cask-strength malt whiskies and this could very well be the best. Geoffrey Kleinman scored this a 95 in Whisky Advocate. I'm both gobsmacked and lip-smacked!
Let's compare it to a freshly opened mini of the standard Peat Monster (46% ABV). The CS is paler in colour, has much more lemon on the nose and palate, as well as more of a vegetal character. The standard Peat Monster is lovely but this CS is in the stratosphere.