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Compass Box The Peat Monster

Average score from 14 reviews and 40 ratings 84

Compass Box The Peat Monster

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@OdysseusUnbound
Compass Box The Peat Monster

I've been drawn to heavy, guitar-driven music as long as I can remember. From Metallica, Guns N' Roses, Slayer, Pantera, and even AC/DC, louder was always better when I was learning to play.

Looking back, AC/DC seems tame compared to some of the heavy music that has come out since. Even compared to Metallica, the Aussies seem good-natured and fun. While "For Those About To Rock" was anthemic, it was never as threatening or aggressive the way Metallica's "Battery" or "Master Of Puppets" was. At least not to serious metalheads. Don't get me wrong; AC/DC is a terrific rock band who puts on a terrific live show, but their music is only "heavy" compared to Willie Nelson or Frank Sinatra (both of whom I love, btw). Compared to heavier bands such as Metallica, Slayer, or Pantera, AC/DC is a little "light". What am I on about here? Well, a whisky named "Peat Monster" may seem intimidating to those who aren't used to peat, or don't know much about whisky, but most seasoned peat-heads (metal-heads?) will find this to be a very friendly monster.

Tasting notes

  • Nose: smoke, peat, butter, meaty, bacon, honey, lemons and red apples
  • Palate: medium-bodied, slightly waxy texture, honey, brine, Oolong tea
  • Finish: medium length, ashy peat returns, very buttery, fresh croissants, more fruitiness, apples, sweet, vegetal Oolong tea turns to dark espresso with black pepper lingering

With water: aromas of strawberries and cream as well as graham crackers pop out beneath the smoke, there’s more honey on the palate and the finish is a bit brighter. Interesting both ways.

Compass Box's Peat Monster is more AC/DC than Metallica. It may come across loud and aggressive to the uninitiated, but it won't blow the seasoned peat-head away. And much like AC/DC's guitar tones, there's a lot of midrange here, but not as much amped-up drive (or peat) as some might think. That's not to say it's a bad whisky. It is very enjoyable and the fruitiness offsets some of the peatiness for a "balanced" whisky experience. It's also bottled at 46% abv, is unchill-filtered and is sold at natural colour. There's a lot to like here.

@Jonathan - Would like to know also but guessing it's the older one as I've still not seen the new version on open sale in the UK yet?

I like the ACDC reference @OdysseusUnbound. I think the line, in musical terms, is about there for me, any heavier and I feel it looses some of the melodic nuances (which is partly the point I guess?). Not like peat though - I like that all the way to 11!

Is this the new peatier one?

@Nozinan

For my first review of 2017, and in anticipation of a self-imposed dry spell starting January 3, I have chosen to review this bottle head to head with a cask strength exclusive store 10th anniversary bottling.

This bottle was bought at the end of 2015, was opened December 14, has been gassed and is 80% full.

This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.


Nose:

Neat – Smoke, peat, lemon. Light syrup. Slight mustiness. Fruity. 22/25

With water – slightly more spirity, similar profile. A little more vegetal, some menthol. (21/25)

Taste:

Neat– Peat explosion. Sour and sweet, citrus. A bit bitter. 21/25

With water – A little thinner, more menthol, citrus and sweet peat dominate. 22/25

Finish: Bitterness lasts through the finish, ashy. No significant change with water. 21/25

Balance: This is a very unidimentional dram. It’s good, but very little complexity. The peat is at the forefront. 22/25

Score: Neat - 86 /100

With Water: 86 /100


Neat, I definitely like this over the 10th anniversary CS, but with water, it’s a toss-up and although I give both the same score I probably would give the CS version a slight edge.

I like this, though I find this is a one trick pony at this time. What I remember of my last bottle was that it started off as a true peat monster but with time the peat diminished and the flavours became a bit more complex. I hope that happens with this bottle as well.

At the end of the tasting I mixed the two together and the result was extremely pleasant.

@Nozinan I'll be with you in spirit (more accurately, without spirit) until the end of the month as I'll be embarking on my own annual month of deprivation starting tomorrow. Just wondering what you might choose tonight for your final pre detox dram. I'm thinking I'll have a dram of Compass Box Flaming Heart Anniversary Edition followed by either Ardbeg Corryvrekkan or Uigeadail.

What about the rest of you maltheads. If you could have two final drams before a month of abstinence, what would they be?

Good idea @Nozinan. Can you move it over to the discussions area or start a new discussion up?

@NamBeist Excellent choices. If I had a Talisker 18 it would definitely be one of my last hurrahs.

Cheers.

@markjedi1

It has been almost 6 years since I last tried The Peat Monster from Compass Box. In the meantime this vatted malt (oops, that must be blended malt now) is part of their so-called Signature Range. We know for sure that it contains Caol Ila and Ardmore – two malts that I quite fancy – so this will surely be to my liking. Smoke, peat, banana and light brown sugar. That is the nose of this whisky in a nutshell. Well, with a big dose of alcohol in the mix, of course. Something milky shines through which I cannot remember from the previous batch. Coconut milk? I quite like it. The arrival is fine. Mildly oily with the fruit first, but that is quickly swamped in maritime elements. Smoked fish, seaweeds, brackish notes. The pepper and mostly the cloves give it a spicy edge. The finish is very long on liquorice and pepper. I keep having difficulty with the name – for this is not a peat monster in my book – but certainly not with the whisky, for that is simply delicious.

@Pierre_W

'The Peat Monster' is a blended malt that has been part of Compass Box's 'Signature Range' since 2003. While it did change over the years, the composition of the current regular version that I am reviewing here appears to be as follows: 40% Laphroaig, 26% Ardmore, 20% Ledaig, 13% Caol Ila, 1% others (Clynelish, Dailuaine, Teaninich).

The nose is lightly fruity with notes of oranges and lemons, together with brine, cereal and a delicate grainy note. Later on, there is a slightly phenolic touch, followed by unmistakable wet dog flavours reminiscent of young Caol Ila.

The palate is medium-bodied, oily and spicy. Peat flavours explode on the tongue and are followed by smoked bacon, seaweed, white pepper, and a hint of cinnamon.

The finish is long and warming, and gets rather ashy towards the very end.

I absolutely love 'The Peat Monster' and it has remained one of my favourite expressions coming from Compass Box. Starting with the multifaceted nose, to the boisterous palate and the ashy finish, this works for me, from beginning to end. Well done, John Glaser and team!

@Robert99

I love peated whiskies. Peat Monster is a blend of malts from Islay, Island and Highland. In Quebec its price is similar to the price of Laphroaig QC, Benriach Curiositas and Benriach Arumaticus. So there's a lot of competition in this price range with some very good offering. So lets see how does this Peat Monster. The bottle reviewed has 40% of its content left and has been for about 4 months.

Nose: Of course I have some peat but no monster. With the usual smoke there is a faint bacon aroma for which you have to work hard to detect. There is also some clear green hay, light iodine, some vanilla and a mix of menthol and light pine that gives it a clean freshness that does not quite work with the dirtier peat and smoke.

Palate: The peat is heavier with more salt but the green hay is still very present. The sweetness comes in with a lot more spice than on the nose. The meaty flavor that comes at the end is more evident than on the nose but does not last for very long. The smoke is stronger and with an ashy side.

Finish: It is not short but the best flavors are not those that last. The meaty flavor is missing and the smoke lack is ashy side and the sweetness diminished too fast.

Balance: The green hay combine with the menthol pine mix are too much in the front for me. The balance is ok but not very good. Larger sip restore more then a bit the balance on the palate but does not change the nose or the finish.

Conclusion: This bottle was better freshly opened. The problem is that it has a double personality. It doesn't know if it should be a refined dram with light flavors or a more bold and dirty grinder ( or sailor) that punches you in the face. For the same price, I prefer the Laphroaig and the Benriach Arumaticus. Peat Monster, when freshly opened, is better than Curiositas; unfortunately, with more air it shows its limits.

Nice review. I agree. With my first bottle of PM when I opened it it was as if a dragon had exhaled but it mellowed with time. But I did enjoy the flavours down to the last dram. I'm looking forward to popping my second bottle sometime this year.

Nicely worded review @Robert99 ,I've yet to try this one and it's because of reviews like yours I've held back from buying a bottle. It seems that this expression is not quite a monster,a bit like Peat's Beast isn't really bestial enough! No doubt it's a nice enough dram but,as you pointed out, there are many alternatives at this price point. I've been drinking The Ileach CS and Finlaggan CS both well priced and extremely monstrous!

@Georgy

Nose: sweet peat and smoke, slightly medicinal, burnt wood, bacon. I get the feeling like all these typical smells of Islay are based on some lovely, fruity, citrusy, vanilla cream notes. Picture a fruit dessert covered with vanilla cream from which you get wisps of smoke and peat.

Taste: fresh fruit, then bonfire smoke on the sides of the mouth

Finish: Some vegetal notes as well, mineral, hint of iodine. Dry burnt wood aftertaste will stay with you for quite a while.

Overall impression: A very interesting whisky experience. I personally am not a big fan of peaty whiskies, but I like this one, because there is more to it than just blunt peat.

Do you know what batch that was? I don't know which my long gone bottle was but it had a puff of strong smoke upon opening, then was not as in my face after that....but a good-tasting peated dram to the last sip.

Norizan

No idea what batch it is, but it's the new design Peat Monster with the black label with a picture of a monster=)

R

Times were pleasant for the people there until finally one, a fiend out of hell, began to work his evil in the world. Grendel was the name of this grim demon haunting the marches, marauding round the heath and the desolate fens; he had dwelt for a time in misery among the banished monsters, Cain's clan, whom the creator had outlawed and condemned as outcasts. --Beowulf

Peat Monster is no "Grendel" of the peat world (indeed, a simple Ardbeg 10 might seem peatier to some, ditto with Lagavulin) but the Monster does pack a nice wallop that makes one's cheeks sink in a little upon first sipping the thing.

Here are my tasting notes:

Appearance: Pale with nigh any hue other than a tinge of milky yellow

Nose: A swat of peat open-palms the nostrils, along with oak and sea salt. Breathe deep. It's a rustically pleasing type of affrontery, kind of like a campfire glowing deep in the heart of a bog that one stumbled upon after dark without a torch.

Taste: Initial pinch of peat and smoke dissipates into a spicy number with a touch of seaweed and a slight hint of caramel. This all yields to an unexpected evocation of mescal that takes a second to identify and perhaps even two or three sips more to pin down like an unwitting accomplice.

Finish: Longer than to be expected given the relatively thin body that does not coat the mouth in any real sense. I think, unlike some of my friends, that I like the finish most of all in this dram.

Lasting impression: I enjoyed Peat Monster more at first. I don't find myself reaching much for the bottle now, and it's not even one third down. It will linger in my cupboard like some lost soul, but I like it there all the same. I will certainly drink it all down before it goes bad. The label alone is worth keeping up there, not to mention the fact that John Glaser breathed life into this watery ur-faust.

I wish that Mr. Glaser had seen fit to mix in just a bit more Laphroaig. Might that have helped the balance? Who knows. As Peat Monster now stands, it seems a bit uneven, like a three legged cow plodding across the moors alone without a herd for company. This said, I don't regret buying the one bottle. It was a fun experiment and I admire Mr. Glaser for taking chances on such a grand scale.

In Oregon, this bottle sells for $65.85. It is also marked as discontinued here. All stores list it as a special order item without any in stock, which means it could be sold out. None to be found in Portland; it's been sold out here for a while. I may have bought the last bottle in Oregon, not sure. Get it while you can, if this kind of eccentric bottling is your thing! It won't be available anywhere much longer.

@CanadianNinja - $59.95 CAD at the LCBO, although they just put a 'PRODUCT DISCONTINUED' label on it, which means they won't be carrying it once they sell out their exisiting stock. Which is too bad, since it is really good stuff. I agree with @rigmorole: the new label is much nicer than the old one (I've got one bottle of each, both currently unopened).

@PMessinger

Warm sweet, earthy arival. Nutty, veggietable, Iodine middle. Developes into long slow smokey oily finish that lingers.

I opened a bottle of Peat Monster about a month ago, along with a bottle of Ardbeg U. At first, I liked it even more than the Ardbeg, but over time the Ardbeg is pulling out way ahead. For me, the Peat Monster is "high pitched" and "shallow" compared with the deep resonant flavors of the Ardbeg.

This said, PM goes well with blue cheese and crackers, much better than the Ardbeg. I might say this in general. PM goes well with main dishes that have an onion flavor. It is more of a "good whisky" to me than the Ardbeg.

The Ardbeg just can't be beat for sitting and sipping while I read a book or watch a film at home in my Lazyboy chair. It is a superb late winter concoction in the evenings.

Last night, I offered Peat Monster to a guest and he really liked it a great deal, more so than the Ardbeg, which he tried before the PM.

I meant to say "food whisky" not "good whisky." Typo

@talexander

Compass Box was started in 2000 by ex-Diageo marketing executive John Glaser as a "whiskymaker". Which is an apt descriptor as they are not a distiller - they create blends and vatted malts such as this one, its most popular product. Compass Box whiskies are noted for being experimental, innovative and, given Glaser's background, highly designed with excellent packaging.

The Peat Monster is 50% Islay malt (from the village of Port Askaig, so perhaps Caol Ila and/or Bunnahabhain, which are nearby), 30% Speyside (Ardmore) and 20% Island malt (not sure where exactly). It was created on commission by an American retailer, according to Glaser's video on his website.

The colour is very pale straw - yellower than the colour scale on this site can suggest. Strangely, there are tiny white particles floating in the spirit. If anyone can shed any light on what they are, let me know!

The nose is gentle peat, very slight bacon (as if it's just the smell of the kitchen about 2 hours after you've fried some), dry hay, a hint of banana and cardamom. Very slight nose. Water brings out the fruitier elements of banana and lychee.

The real burst begins on the palate, more so than the nose - lots of peat smoke, heat, and toasted sesame oil. Under the smoke is that light fruity malt character. Water makes the oily spirit creamer in the mouth, which is welcome.

The finish is so long - ash and liquid smoke sit there as your mouth dries, while retaining pears and some iodine. However, I find the longer it sits in the glass, the more the flavours and aromas fade.

This has very good balance and layering of fruit and smoke - this whisky accomplishes what it set out to do. But I would have welcomed a little more complexity - we have peat and fruit, and otherwise not that much else going on.

@Alanjp

The Peat Monster was the final one in the mini tasting session, and it rounded off the evening nicely!

It was very pale, looking quite young and light. On the nose i found it a struggle to get past the peat to be honest. It was a nice peat smell though, not overwhelming or burning. There was something else, but i was unable to really put a word to it.

When tasting, the peat was prominant but not in the same sense of an Islay whisky. There was a vanilla taste in there as well. There was a smoke filled finish, but i would have prefferred it to last longer.

Another enjoyable whisky from Compass Box, i wouldnt agree with the name though, it's peaty but it certainly isnt a monster in that respect.

Hi @Alanjp Thanks for the review. For us, the key to Peat Monster is the combination of the feisty peaty nose (you may pick up the character of the south shore Islay malt that we use, along with a peaty malt from the Isle of Mull) combined with the smokier, rounder, silky, cinnamon and licorice palate based on the Speyside peat of Ardmore. It's like 2 whiskies in one, getting the best of both worlds.

As for the name, when we first created PM in 2003, it was quite monstrous in relation to other things out there, but today, you're right, it is very much in the medium-peated catgegory. We just didn't want to kill off the name or the little PM critter. We think of it now as a well-educated monster (charm with menace) and certainly a monster of complexity. I hope that helps!

@Alanjp, please try yourself a sample of Compass Box The Peat Monster RESERVE, if you can find one. Quite a different whisky.

@markjedi1

The Peat Monster is again a little work of art by John Glaser, the whisky zealot from Compass Box. This blended malt (previously ‘vatted malt’) comprises Caol Ila, Laphroaig and Ardmore, all matured on American ex-bourbon casks.

The nose is smoky, with sweet peat, banana and what reminds you of a campfire on the beach. There is a seabreeze, even a touch of brine. Coal Ila definitely plays first fiddle in this concert. Then there is also orange peel (sweet and bitter at the same time) and a hint of molasses. Finally a prominent medicinal touch.

It’s quite oily and chewy on the palate. The honey and vanilla (from the Ardmore?) are there, but it’s the seaweeds and smoked eel that steal the footlight. There is a metallic touch there as well. And at the end there is some hay (organics). Very complex and very much worth the effort.

The finish is an encore for the sweet peat and oak.

I’ve had some Islay whiskies before and cannot agree with the name of this one. Sure, it’s peated. But a peat monster? Let’s say a peat beast. It’s a very accessible, peated whisky. ‘Black Bottle Deluxe’. Costs around 40 EUR. There is even a limited edition called The Peat Monster Reserve, a magnum (1,5 litre), bottled at 48,9%, even richer and peatier (and more expensive : approx. 100 EUR).

Hey ther, i agree. see my review of the same whisky here. It's very nice, but a very shy monster as i wrote. good stuff however from Glaser.

@nickithep

So... it's a little peaty. It's kind of smokey. but it's not as peaty and smokey as i would of thought it to be with a name like "the peat monster".

This vatted malt scotch whiskey is very warm(too hot for some including my wife). Even at 46%, i don't think it should be that warm. It's nose is very deceptive as well. It's all there. Peat, smoke, and even a little something sweet(which i thought odd). But it's all lost in the taste. I don't know if the heat takes away from it's flavor, or it just had more bark than bite. It does however feel somewhat rich. Which makes zero since, as it is so very light in color. I think the heat that makes it feel big. It's all very confusing. I remain baffled. It is good, but not great. Best for me on a cold evening. I think in the end, i was disappointed in the fact that "the peat monster" was definitely lacking in the peat enough to make me question it's title.

Agreed. I had a taste at a dealer and was sorely disappointed from the expectations of the name.

well, we will have to do with the other "monsters" : Octomore 2.0 and Supernova. 2 amazing monsters, i love dearly.

@galg

Color: Chardonnay.

Nose: Melange of Sweet fruit under a cape of peat : Apricots, Pears and some butter. Some wood smoke, earthy peat and white pepper and smoked bacon. Not extremely peaty as the name suggests, I've encountered peatier malts and blended malts (Big peat for example By D.Laing). but it's very enjoyable.

Palate: Body is quite thin, peat attack is first less noticeable, then after 2 seconds, the peat sneaks on you, and attacks with multiple 'waves' of peat sweetness, loads of Pepper and cinnamon all together. a very nice feeling to it.

Finish: peat smoke, cinnamon and burnt sugar with some malt.

Bottom line:

If you are a peat-head, this is a very enjoyable vatting, rather complex, and on the spot, But , and that’s a big BUT. it’s really a very shy monster, that does not roar. Compared to other beasts such as the Supernova 2010, or the Octomores , PC6 / 7 / 8 , this is a well-behaved peat creature. It lacks the sheer impact of peat, and the 46% ABV also is not a match to the Cask Strength of let’s say even the Corryvreckan or Laphraoig QC / CS.

If i had to choose between those two, I'd first shell out the money for the big hammers. But, I am a peat devotee. Someone who is just entering the Peated malts world would enjoy this one better. It will be a great introductory dram to the world of Islay peat, and peat in general. So, It’s a good option, after all.

Two compass peat monster reviews within a few hours, and both are positive. Now I really wish it were easier to get ahold of in Australia!

@dbk

Reviewed by @dbk

0 1687/100

It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: in this day and age, with phenol levels reaching 140 ppm (here’s looking at you, Octomore), the Compass Box Peat Monster is hardly a “monster” at all. A vatted malt—Caol Ila, Ardmore, and more recently, Laphroaig expressions—the Peat Monster is a much gentler beast than a Lagavulin 16. The choice to lean on Caol Ila, which I’ve always felt to be cleaner and lighter than most Lagavulin expressions I’ve sampled, may have something to do this, but I suspect the use of first fill ex-bourbon casks played no small part.

The smoky nose has a candied sweetness to it, not unlike the Bruichladdich Peat, though less brown sugar-barbecue and more campfire sweets. There are deep, woodsy notes of dried tinder and ash, as well as orange peel, maple syrup, and sea breeze. It’s all very reminiscent of camping by the ocean.

Whisky tears dot sides of the glass beautifully. The light, oily palate follows through with pine smoke and balsam wood, brine, honey, and ginger. Bourbon vanilla makes a welcome appearance here, too. Sweet peat smoke expands over the finish, leaving soft traces of cocoa and toasted pecans behind.

So why the “monstrous” misnomer? Compass Box clearly have their own style of marketing. Their packaging is artistic and tasteful, and their expressions’ names—Asyla, Oak Cross, Eleuthera, Spice Tree (etc.)—recall something nostalgic and something majestic. But (fortunately) Compass Box whiskies are not chill filtered, nor is colour added to them, so perhaps they see the competitive arena as a little more of a challenge to get into than with some of their other releases. Peat-heads can be tough to impress at times, staying faithful to their favourites. A peat “monster,” however, is a tough thing to refuse, and perhaps this is all there is to the name: a simple marketing scheme.

In any case, the Peat Monster is a delight. It won’t replace certain other favourites in my cabinet, but it has grown on me steadily since first opening, so perhaps give it a few tries before weighing in on it yourself. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Very interesting discussion and great review. I've been wanting to get a bottle of this for quite some time, I don't know why but I've always been put off by the name, despite it's good reviews (a shameless case of judging a book by its title), but will now definitely be familiarising myself with the monster in the very immediate future. Thanks @dbk!

@jdcook: I'm sorry to hear that Compass Box is hard to find in Oz. They're doing quite well, critically, so I wouldn't be surprised if you see their stuff eventually.

@LeFrog: Peat Monster is the only CB I've tried so far, but I have access to others. Any real standouts to you?

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