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Compass Box The Spice Tree

Average score from 24 reviews and 65 ratings 87

Compass Box The Spice Tree

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@Georgy
Compass Box The Spice Tree

I love Speyside flavors and I love Compass box. So this malt blend really is a thing of beauty for me.

NOSE: right after opening the bottle and pouring a dram, the nose reveals a touch of citrus peel (orange, mandarin), cinnamon, ginger; dry oak; brewed black tea. With water it tones down the spice a little bit and reveals more of those wonderful vanilla cream, chocolate notes. One spiced Christmas cake on the nose - love it!

TASTE: sweet, very rich, spicy, a touch of salt; black pepper, honey. Vanilla and ginger are also here. It can take a lot of water without losing flavor which is really impressive. With water you get more of smooth cake-like notes with vanilla spiciness and caramel.

FINISH: long, warming, incredibly satisfying. Hints of pepper and toffee.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: WOW! One really well-balanced, flavorful, moreish whisky. Stunning. If you like speyside flavors like I do, my bet is you'll love the Spice tree!

@Georgy, most of the current Clynelish is unadorned by sherry or peat (little or none). The now defunct Brora was the sister distillery to Clynelish which specialised in peated expressions. The old Clynelishes distilled pre-1980 were often fabulous. The current stuff, less so, though many still like it. I think most people who like Clynelish now would recommend some of the Independent Bottlings over the Distillery Bottled 14 yo. Another Compass Box highlighting Clynelish is the Asyla Blended Scotch. John Glaser himself has repeatedly called that his Desert Island Dram among his creations. He turned his focus away from blended malt several years ago and toward blended Scotch. You might be able to find a sherried Clynelish, but that is not the norm.

Also Compass Box Oak Cross is just the same distillate blend as Spice Tree, only matured in different oak.

@ Georgy I really like the sweet, rich single malts like the Glendronach 15 you mention, and Aberlour A'Bunadh--both Highlanders, like the Clynelish Victor mentioned, but I also love Benromach speyside. Your description sounds right up my alley. I will admit, at first I was a bit snobbish about this being a blend, but thinking about it, I've decided that good whisky is good whisky and if it's popular on this board (and gets Ralfy's stamp of approval), well, I just gotta try it.

I'm also thinking of getting a bottle of Great King Stree Artist's Blend, also shown on the shop website...this may be an expensive trip!

@Georgy

NOSE: at first typical speyside array of aromas, sherry, lovely orange zest, vanilla, cinnamon caramel.

TASTE: really big on spice, pepper in particular, which transforms into wonderful speyside sweetness, which then gives way to tiramisu.

FINSIH: lingering spicy milk chocolate.

Overall impression: this is one masterpiece of a whisky. Very very interesting experience!

B

This is my third kind of Compass Box that I've tried, following Asyla and The great King Street and this was by far the best of the bunch.

NOSE: ginger, cinnamon, a subtile dose of peat and and sweet welcoming coconut. Quite a strong NOSE that is very intriguing. PALATE: wonderful and very well balanced whisky. You find ginger, nutmeg, some citrus in a lovely mix. Let it rest for a while and you find more interesting flavors FINISH: medium long with (just as the NOSE and the PALATE) LOTs of different spices.

The Spice Tree is a great whisky. I think there will Always be a bottle in my collection from now on....

@Barnbip, from day one, it has been very hard to find anyone who would say a bad word about The Spice Tree. True of the first, banned, iteration of The Spice Tree. True now.

BTW, The Spice Tree contains the same whiskies as Oak Cross, but with different wood.

Interesting that it is the same whiskies in the Oak Cross - didn't know (or think) that! There are actually a couple of reviews of the Spice Tree that aren't very impressed. Not that I understand them.....

@PMessinger
@MaltActivist

Compass Box has served me well. I love their packaging. I feel they are a solid independent that produce very innovative and flavorful blends. And I had been looking forward to tasting this particular offering for a while now.

However, what I love more than the malt itself is the wonderful story behind it. When they first introduced this expression in 2005 they did it on the basis of an interesting experiment.

Using 100% malts from the Northern Highlands - mainly Clynelish - all around 10 years old they re-racked the spirit in their own customized casks.

Customized, you ask? Well, this is what they did.

Using 195 year old French Oak (heavily toasted and air dried for two years) they crafted inner staves which they fitted inside used barrels, therefore, extending the life of an otherwise useless barrel.

The result? The first edition of The Spice Tree which ended up winning rave reviews and awards. Unfortunately, the Scotch Whisky Association decided this was illegal and rather than get into a tiff Compass Box decided to suspend production in 2006.

But they had another trick up their sleeve. Instead of using staves second time around they decided to, instead, manufacture heavily toasted cask heads from the same French Oak used in the first edition. Suck on that SWA!

Nose: Hint of peat on a lovely orange marmalade spread. Quite sweet with an almost fortified white wine quality to it. Soft brown raisins. But of course, as the name suggests, the multitude of spices are what sets this one apart. Ginger, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg all feature quite strongly on the nose. The French Oak in play here.

Palate: Creamy mouthfeel with a lovely citrusy sweetness to it. Must be all that Clynelish. The spicy cloves and ginger bits are at home amid the limestone sweetness of the warm brown chocolates and butterscotch raisins.

Finish: Lovely and long with an oily wooden spice.

This is quite a spectacular malt by any standards and well worth sinking your teeth into.

@whiskydallas

Great, versatile this is great neat, as you want to taste al the vanilla spice, with a drop of water it's fruity nose opens up nicely with ice it provides cold pleasure. its quality for price is unbeatable. its simply a great blend

@Victor

What French Oak has over American Oak is a higher degree of spiciness. Those who like the spice, like I do, love to taste that spicy French Oak, wherever it appears, whether in whisky, wine, or tequila. Compass Box The Spice Tree uses, subsequent to its first, banned version, new, i.e. 'virgin', French Oak barrel heads to give it a big punch of oak wood spiciness. The base malts of this vatted/pure/blended malt whisky are all Highland Malts, with Compass Box head Mr. Glaser's favourite, Clynelish, taking the lead. The Highland malt whiskies in Compass Box The Spice Tree and Compass Box Oak Cross are the same. Only the wood used is different. The reviewed bottle has been open for 2 1/2 years, is 80% full, and has been preserved with inert gas for 15 months

Nose: wood spice, a hint of fruit, citrus, apple, and pear, and some additional woody notes

Taste: the spice is much stronger on the palate than in the nose: there is black pepper, and some lesser influence of baking spices of cloves and cinnamon/cassia. Malt flavours include significant citrus, as in the nose, and much more grassiness than the nose shows. The spiciness acts as a counterpoint to the sweetness which develops from mid-palate into the finish. Piquante and appealing

Finish: the spice just gets stronger into the long finish, giving a strong flavour experience

Balance: this is a nicely put-together whisky. The sweet-dry balance is very good. There is plenty of flavour and plenty of contrast within the flavours presented

Victor, I understand Compass Box has changed the formulation on the Spice Tree recently. Do you know anything about that?

@DaveM, no, I am unfamiliar with information concerning recent changes to the composition of The Spice Tree, or whether those changes might also have been made for Oak Cross.

R

Well, I tried another bottle of this whisky and it came through quite well. I am exceedingly pleased with it. The one I drank at a pub last month obviously was suffering from cork spoilage, which does happen from time to time.

Nose: Allspice; fresh mountain air; vanilla bean; and a slightly bourbonesque overtone that reminds me ironically Aberlour 18, which I very much like. (I say ironic because Aberlour smells a bit like bourbon but is not, of course.)

Palate: High quality caramel; cashews; white pepper; Trader Joes thick graham crackers; nice luxurious mouth feel.

Finish: Cinnamon; oak; cloves; pleasant tingle; very nice lingering flavors with exotic "Spice Island" overtones.

This whisky is priced right for what you get. I'm keeping an open bottle in my cabinet as a way to treat myself every now and then.

And, yes, women like this whisky. My wife actually poured herself a few ounces, which is rare. The last time she did that was when I had a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle's 20 Year. Yes, Spice Tree is definitely "chick friendly" but that doesn't make it whimpy.

I know it sounds weird, but this whisky seems "wholesome" to me. Can't say as I've ever called whisky "wholesome" before.

I only wish I could buy holiday gift-sized bottles of The Spice Tree. I would gladly give it to my coworkers and friends as gifts before Christmas break.

Nice review. The Compass Box brand is releasing many quality offerings. I have tried the Peat Monster, Oak Cross and the Spice Tree (Inaugural Release) and they have been very enjoyable. Currently in the middle of a bottle of Hedonism.

Great review of a great blend, have made way through half of my current bottle, and i am preparing a review for later and i agree with many of your notes, and would add that i very much get what you mean by wholesome. My girlfriend loves laphroaig and the peaty stuff in general, so ill make a further test of this blends "chick-friendliness" on her ;)

@Lars

Picked up this bottle last June for my first every whisky tasting amongst friends. Just so happened that it had just been released for sale by our local MLCC. After hearing so many good things about Compass Box I snatched up a bottle and brought it over for everyone to try.

Now almost a year later and I am having my last dram of it tonight and so I'd thought I write up a little review of it.

Nose: Oak with pepper and little bit of vanilla once it has a chance to open up.

Palate: A harsh attack of cinnamon and cloves at the beginning with oak coming out towards the middle ending with honey.

Finish: Long and dry and just when you think it's over you get hit with a burst of honeyed fruit and a touch of smoke.

Expensive for a blend and not one that I will be replacing in my bar as I can get a better bang for my dollar with a more enjoyable whisky.

R

Tried this one at the Highland Stillhouse. I have a bottle in my safe and I hope it isn't like the one I tried.

It had a beautiful nose, but the palette was musty and unpleasant with a short finish. Could have been cork rot, or it could have been the heavy oak influence. Hard to say.

I asked to see the bottle to verify if it was the first version of SpiceTree or the second. It was the second. That was before I tasted it, however, so I didn't verify the integrity of the cork.

When I return to the Stillhouse next week or so, I will ask to see the cork in that bottle. I love the Stillhouse and I'm very happy overall with my experiences there. If the bottle I tried did not have cork spoilage, then I'm not a fan of SpiceTree.

I will follow up with a reply to let people know what happens. I will also write a new review when I open my own bottle at some point in the future.

Despite the musty palette that tended to rise into my nose, the bottle was not an entire failure. It still had some enjoyable characteristics. However, the finish was brief and the palette was certainly not even close to what I've read in reviews about this unique and creative whisky offering from Compass Box.

I really hope the reason for your negative experience with this whisky is in fact an issue with cork or something else. I've been dying to try this one for quite some time. I'm hoping it lives up to my expectations!!

Hi @rigmorole , Really sorry to hear about your musty Spice Tree experience. It definitely sounds like this is one of those very rare occasions of a faulty bottle. We would be delighted to send you a new sample to try - just email chris@compassboxwhisky.com and we'll sort it out. And we would of course also be very happy to swap out the Highland Stillhouse bottle with a new one as well. Yours, CompassBoxChris

@Max

Review is based on a freshly opened bottle.

Nose: oak influence is big - sawn lumber, sawdust, a lot of vanilla, cloves, baked apple covered with lots of cinnamon, hot red pepper

Palate: cardamom, vanilla, white pepper, fresh almonds (or even apricot seed), a bit of furniture polish

Finish: wet oak, pepper, then quickly transforms to vanilla and light smoke. Medium length.

Well, what can I say, whisky profile goes hand in hand with it's name - there are lots of spices going on. The balance is great - blenders at Compass Box do their job just great! This whisky is spicy and tasty. It's not too sugary and is easy drinking. Well done, Compass Box!

@SquidgyAsh

In keeping with my blended theme for our March whisky club meeting I decided to try a Compass Box once more.

I'd had the Compass Box Eleuthera and the Compass Box Hedonism before and found both of them pleasant.

Even more I'd got a chance to take a sip of my brother in law's Spice Tree last whisky club, so I figured why not go in for the full dram?

So once I finish my Monkey Shoulder I order the Spice Tree and get ready to see what new fun things there are to discover.

Sitting a lovely golden color in the glencairn it's nose definitely lives up to it's name.

Lots and lots of spices on the nose, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, coconut, ginger, chocolate, sultanas, raisins, it's almost like a Christmas cake at times!

Awesome nose, stupidly complex, beautiful and it makes you want to take a sip like you wouldn't believe!

So let's do so!

Beautiful creamy mouthfeel with oak, raisins, vanilla, chocolate, citrusy oranges, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves. Rich and enjoyable are a couple of good terms to describe this whisky.

A long, dry and chocolatey finish ends this whisky, leaving you want more.

This is a blended whisky that disproves the long held belief by so many whisky drinkers that blends are unpleasant, not worthy of bring drunk, not as good as single malts, etc etc etc.

At $100 AUS many people would say this is expensive for a blended whisky, comparing it against Ardbeg, Macallan, etc but you'd be silly and wrong to do so. This little guy is just as good as many single malts and better then quite a few single malts that I've had.

Found this for those interested. Answered my own question! Happy Sunday, Ash! Next time, I'll write to you on "Ash Wednesday!"

From the distillers very own website:

Type: Vatted Malt. A blend of single malts from different distilleries.

Tasting Notes: A natural, deep, gold-brown colour and a rich nose with spices such as clove and nutmeg, and sweet stewed fruits. Palate is soft, sweet, deep and rich with a malt whisky fruitiness embellished by rich spice. Very long.

Lead Distilleries: Dailuaine, Teaninich and two other malt whiskies distilled in the villages of Brora and Longmorn.

Wood: 100% first-fill Bourbon barrels and first-fill, recharred American oak hogsheads for the primary maturation. A portion of the whisky went through a secondary maturation on new (virgin) French Sessile oak, heavily toasted. Our inaugural batch (labelled as such on the front and back labels) had one toast level. Our second batch, released April 2006, had several different toast levels for a slightly more subtle yet complex flavour profile, but definitely similar to the inaugural batch.

Hahaha Rigmorole you always make me grin :D I'm glad that you trust my opinions:D

Compass Box Spice Tree is indeed very delicious! And as you have already said it's a vatted whisky so no grain whisky went into it. A while ago for some odd reason, I thought all of the Compass Boxes were grain whiskies and I couldn't tell you why that thought was there to save my life. Oh well.

As for my name "As for your moniker: Interesting how you honed in on one of the 6's from the Disney spoof with the word "Whisky" instead. " I'm super distracted right now as I finish last minute prep for trip to Scotland (we fly out tomorrow) but I'm very curious as to what you meant! Would you please go into more detail for me? :)

@talexander

The raging storm continues in Toronto and so I partake of my usual snowed-in activity - tasting whisky. Ok fine, it's my usual activity all the time, yeah whatevs. But tonight we have something quite unique and special, with a long colourful history.

Compass Box is like no other bottler - they produce ranges of blends and blended malts that push the boundaries of what whisky can be. Founded by ex-Diageo marketing executive John Glaser in 2000, they are an artisanal whisky maker - not a distiller.

In 2005 they launched The Spice Tree, a blended malt which, for its secondary maturation, used the unusual method of placing new French oak staves into used bourbon barrels to impart more spice. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) deemed this illegal, for the pathetic reason that it had simply never been done before. Compass Box was forced to withdraw it from the market after only being available for about a year.

In 2009 they re-launched it - primary maturation remained the same (first-fill and refill American oak), but for secondary maturation, the casks had heads of virgin French oak, toasted at various levels. I don't know how long the primary maturation period is, but the secondary maturation can be as long as two years. The SWA could take no issue with this; therefore, the whisky still stands. The spirit comes solely from Highland distilleries, with the base malt from Clynelish, and is very similar in production method as their Oak Cross expression (though it matures longer and the wood is more heavily toasted). It is non-coloured and non-chillfiltered.

The colour is a shimmering medium-depth gold. Quite oaky on the nose but in a good way - in perfect harmony with the malt. Vanilla, coconut, mint, eucalyptus, cinnamon and ginger. A slight hint of lemon meringue. With water, more eucalyptus and some chocolate orange.

Such a beautiful palate. More vanilla and a hint of caramel, from the virgin oak. Very herbal. Silky smooth mouthfeel. A little water brings out more nutmeg and pepper. It certainly lives up to its name! Absolutely delicious.

The finish is very spicy, with lots of vanilla. This may be the most perfect blended malt I have tasted, up there with the Taketsuru 17 (though it is very different). Perfect harmony and balance, rich, smooth, very complex. Grab one if you can, it is a very unique whisky, with a lot of history and worth the appreciation.

I should mention that when I first opened the bottle, I quite liked it. I poured it at some tastings, and by the time I wrote this review, there were only 2-3 drams left in the bottle - and I think the oxidation really improved the spirit. Also, the whisky in the glass ended up sitting in there for a couple of hours (since I had to feed my daughter and her friend, and stuff like that) and it really developed stronger spice notes over time - pepper, brine, to the point of leaving a salty sting on my lips). Very interesting developments.

Just passed by a bottle of this when I picked up an Ardbeg U. Should have bought the spice tree, as well. There was only one left and I fear it's gone now.

@MaltySD

I have been looking forward to trying this for a long time and finally found a bottle and what a score! The name says it all…though the spice is not as over powering as compared to the ‘slap in yo face’ of a Rye whiskey, it still hits you, and it’s absolutely tasty. Loads of various baking spices that reminds of a spicy Szechuan stir fry kicked up a notch. And just as you finish your spicy stir fry comes desert…trailing off to a slightly vanilla cinnamie finish. YUM!!

@systemdown

Spice Tree @Day 0, 2012-04-02

I was fortunate enough to try a dram of this whilst visiting Baranow's Lounge in Melbourne around Easter this year (2012). I won't go into details of the cask / maturation process and/or the legal issues surrounding their first release as others out there have amply commented on the subject.

As this is a "one off" tasting in a bar environment, I have not given a detailed break down of score but rather will provide a score rounded to the nearest 5 points based on my recollection and notes taken at the time.

The Spice Tree is bottled at 46% ABV and is non-chill filtered. It has fantastic legs in the glass! I note that the bottle level was very high (to the shoulder of the bottle) so chances are that it is nicely "opened up" but not detrimentally oxidised.

Nose: Cinnamon, cream, Christmas cake, rum and raisin, vanilla, brown sugar. Huge nose. Sweet and spicy.

Taste: Spicy tingle upon arrival, big juicy citrus, cherries, raisins again, cloves, vanilla pod, spiced honey. Excellent oils and mouthfeel. With water: More woody spices.

Finish: Spices, very warm, lingering, red fruits (cherries, berries) in a dry finish.

Balance: Fantastic melding of spice, fruit and malt sweetness. Very "moreish" and very big.

Score: 90

This is a dram I will never forget! The quality and quantity of spices and Christmas cake notes and superb, luscious, big mouthfeel makes for a memorable experience. I wish I had a bottle in my cabinet!

@YakLord

I opened my bottle of Spice Tree (non chill-filtered, no artifical colouring, 70cl, 46% ABV, $67.25 @ the LCBO, although there is a very limited supply remaining) for a Scotch Tasting Event a couple of weeks ago, and then took what was left of the bottle to my parents-in-law's place for the Canada Day Weekend, as there wasn't much left and it needed to be finished.

My father-in-law is very much a wine and beer connoisseur (he likes expensive red wines and imported/microbrewery beers), and clearly understands my interest in whisky (I mean, he did give me my bottle of Penderyn for Christmas), he just isn't a whisky person. Yes, he's sampled the Penderyn (he's Welsh and it is a Welsh whisky, so he had to try it), along with a couple of my other whiskies, but he says it just doesn't "do anything for him", so I was interested to see what he thought of the Spice Tree.

The menu for dinner on Saturday night (the 30th) was skewered grilled baby potatoes, maple butter-milk chicken, grilled marinated vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, etc.), and a hazelnut meringue with fresh blueberries and French vanilla ice cream for dessert. Given that I'd paired the Spice Tree with a ginger-pear upside down cake at the Scotch Tasting, I thought that we'd save it for dessert, as it would likely go well with the meringue. And did it ever! Both the ice cream and the meringue created very different flavour combinations, and it was quite something to feel the whisky slowly overcome the ice cream on the palate.

As Blended Malt (formerly known as a 'Vatted Malt'), the Spice Tree is created by blending together single malts (10 to 12 years old) from other distilleries - primarily Clynelish, Dailuaine, Longmorn, and Teaninich - and then maturing the blend for another two years in first-fill bourbon hogsheads that have had the barrel heads replaced by barrel heads made of new French Oak. This interaction with the new wood is what gives the Spice Tree its very distinct, spicy flavour profile. In many ways, the Spice Tree is a more mature (although younger) and spicier version of the Glenlivet 15 year-old French Oak Reserve (the extra 6% ABV also adds a bit more kick to the Spice Tree).

The Spice Tree has a deep, gold-brown colour (almost the same as Demerera brown sugar), and a nose that is rich with spices. The official tasting notes refer to cloves, nutmeg, and sweet stewed fruits, but I also detected some cinnamon, as well as cardamom and freshly ground coriander seed. It has a very soft and sweet, yet spicy palate; you can taste the brown sugary malt and the traces of spice - nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon - almost like you are drinking a warm spiced apple pie. The finish is very long and extremely satisfying, carrying the sweet spiciness all the way down your throat.

All things considered, the Spice Tree is a fantastic blended malt, and well worth picking up (if you can find a bottle...hopefully the LCBO will have more in stock soon).

This really is a great bottle...in addition to the spices, I also picked up a mineral note (like I would imagine licking a wet stone would be like...note to self, do this sometime). It was especially noticeable when the bottle was open for the first month or so. A very nice complement to the spiciness. Spice Tree has been marked as 'limited stock' at the LCBO for most of the past two years (I got my bottle just after Xmas, 2011) and always seems to come back. Budget permitting, I intend to re-stock it when my current bottle runs low.

Interestingly enough, since I wrote this review, the LCBO has actually DROPPED the price of The Spice Tree to $62.95 (as of January 25, 2013). It is still listed as 'Limited Supply', but there appear to be at least a couple hundred bottles left.

@Alanjp

Next up on my mini tasting was The Spice Tree, looking a hell of a lot darker than the previous sample of Oak Cross. I can only describe it as burnt gold, with a red kind of glow to the edges!

From the first smell, it's a heavy whisky, feeling full and warm. The spices of the name are big and dominant, and they continue into the taste and through to the finish! There's citrus flavours in there as well, mainly orange from what i can tell.

It's a heated finish which doesnt out stay its welcome, and on a whole the dram is very enjoyable. For some reason it reminds me of a sherried whisky, even though it's not something Compass Box often do.

@cclward

Nose: Sugar plums Cotton Candy , Rich Fruit Taste: Soft , Juicy oak , I can taste a beautiful marriage between Longmorn & Clynelish, Sweet gingersnaps , Finish: Oak , Spice , nutmeg , cinnimon , pepper. Overall , a great vatted malt at a great price , this is better than many single malts. Its a little too sweet but great none the less

@phoenix

Compass Box are an 'Artisan' whisky maker/blender. They are well known and hugely respected in the whisky business and have a fantastic variety of whiskies at reasonable prices. This review looks at their Spice Tree, which is a blended malt scotch whisky, what used to be called 'vetted'.

First off, the Spice Tree won the Whisky Bible 2011 Best scotch new brand with 95.5 points. Secondly it comes in at a nice 46% ABV, which gives it that little extra kick.

It has a beautiful, natural golden-brown colour and is a blend of single malts from different distilleries. Dailuaine, Teaninich and two other malt whiskies distilled in the villages of Brora and Longmorn, aged in bourbon barrels and specially made casks with new French oak heads.

On the nose it is rich with spices such as clove and nutmeg, and sweet stewed fruits coming through. A delight to just sniff!

The mouthfill is smooth, filling, gentle and very rounded.

On the palate its' soft, sweet, deep and rich with a malt whisky fruitiness embellished by rich spice. Just lovely.

The finish is looong. You are reminded that this isn't a blended whisky, but a blended malt scotch whisky. Briefly illegitimate, according to SWA regulations. After adjusting it's creation, Spice Tree is back and well worth the small investment for this fantastic dram.

I recommend it without hesitation to all my fellow Connosr's.

@jboothe

Non-chill filtered and naturally colored, the Spice Tree is a unique creation from Compass Box that I've enjoyed a great deal on several occasions.

On the nose, I get a blast of caramel and toffee sweetness with a bit of an herbal presence.

The palate quickly transitions from sweet to spicy, bringing forth cedar and oak notes.

On the finish, the woody character is supplemented by an array of spices and a faint fruit presence.

Overall, this creation is quite a treat and a must-have in your collection.

@dbk

In the whisky anorak’s world, The Spice Tree is perhaps Compass Box’s best known offering—not just for the glowing reviews by Jim Murray and the like, but also for the Scotch Whisky Association’s controversial move against Compass Box for their first two releases of this expression, in which toasted new French oak staves were inserted into casks during secondary maturation. The latest edition is a blended (formerly known as ‘vatted’) malt of four whiskies from Dailuaine, Teaninich, Clynelish, and—to my nose, at least—Longmorn. To get ‘round the SWA’s objection, Compass Box now employs toasted new French oak barrel heads (apparently a more ‘traditional’ approach) rather than staves during the secondary maturation.

The nose is absolutely delightful, transforming constantly yet subtly. At times, I detect tangy vanilla yogurt, luxurious vanilla custard, oak resin, vanilla biscuits, oranges, orange creamsicles, and orange soda. There are also whiffs of sea air, honey, clove, strawberries, cracked white pepper, crystallised ginger, and poached pears.

Unsurprisingly, the palate is spicy, especially with cinnamon and preserved pears. There are dominant notes of rich and creamy vanilla, orange liqueur, and malt. The finish is richly vanillaed, and of good length.

I have spent far more time nosing this wonderful whisky than tasting it, but still it has broken the house record for fastest finished whisky bottle yet, and with good reason. The Spice Tree is a genuinely superb malt.

@dbk, it is lovely enthusiasm that you have and a lovely review that you have given! Fastest finished bottle? Wow! That says something. I have heard about Spice Box for a long time and have seen Compass Box products for sale occasionally, but never the Spice Box. I am looking forward to it, as are I would think most spice hounds like me. And one comment about the use of "blended" where "vatted" was formerly sanctioned: this change is just stupid and confusing. 'Vatted' worked just fine, and gave a clear picture of what is offered. I will continue to use 'vatted' in this context in all of my references.

@AboutChoice, I'm sure the Spice Tree will be worth a full bottle for you, though I know what you mean about getting samplers instead. You did know that Compass Box now has such a collection, right?

@Victor, I couldn't agree more about 'vatted' versus 'blended'. It was a terribly stupid decision to change terminology.

@jwise

Compass Box is a very innovative company, bottling some really great pure malt whiskies. The Oak Cross was pretty good, so I was excited to try out the Spice Tree.

Nose: Vanilla, honey, red pepper, & bananas.

Palate: Great mouth feel, warming, plenty of pepper. Sweet fruit as well. No citrus.

Finish: Wow! Peppery w/ a honey/vanilla that is LONG!

This is fantastic! Spicy, sweet, smooth, w/ a long finish that brings back all the best of the palate.

So different, so good. If ever there was a scotch that smells and tastes like christmas baking, this is it.

@markjedi1

When Compass Box released the first version of their Spice Tree, they got into trouble with the Scotch Whisky Assoction, who threatened them with a lawsuit after they found out that John Glaser added French oak staves to the insides of his American casks to influence the maturation process. Compass Box took the popular Spice Tree off the market. Sort of. They stopped producing it in that fashion, but the stock already on the market sold out in a matter of weeks. It took them four years to come up with a second version. This is a vatting of several Highland malts, primarily Clynelish. The components are at least 10 years old and matured on first-fill American oak before getting a two-year finish on heavily toasted French oak.

The nose is a feisty mixture of spices on vanilla and a touch of ginger. There is some white fruit in there – apples and pears. And quite a bit of wood.

The delivery is malty and spicy – most notably cloves and nutmeg. The whole remains wonderfully mild, though, but the wood wants a big say on the palate as well.

The finish is drying and woody, with dark chocolate at the death.

This Spice Tree will set you back about 40 EUR.

i dedicated a post for this one. very well made!

whiskyisrael.co.il/2010/10/…

@galg

Nose: Vanilla and lots of spice going on, just fitting for its name : Cinnamon,Ginger,a sweet tasted oak nose, with a punch.

Palate: Spicy mama heaven. Cinnamon and ginger deliver the spicy blast, assisted by butter and wee milk chocolate notes as well to complete the very enjoyable package.

Finish : Long, spices and cocoa, wood and cinnamon.

bottom line:

This little dram delivers big time. Immensely drinkable, lovable and spicy, with the sweetness and the cocoa finish. toasted oak done right. i don't know about the first generation, but this one is definitely a winner. A great dram for a good price (~$55). John Glaser, you did again. Magic.

You can also read Jason’s excellent review of this one at the guid scotch drink blog. It seems we’re in accordance when it comes to this one.

Hmmm... a holiday dram ... sounds like it would pair well with pumpkin ale, or even pie ! I do wonder how the distillers generate those spicy flavors ... anyone know ? Anyway @galg, thanks for revealing this one ... would really like to try it !

@AboutChoice this is not a secret : read all about it in my blog post :

whiskyisrael.co.il/2010/10/…

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