So they call This whisky a three-year-old. Now, of course, it technically is as 0.04 of it is, indeed, only three years old. Yes, you read that right, four tenths of a percent is three-year-old whisky from Clynelish that was aged by Compass Box itself in their own first fill American Oak casks. In the PR text, they claim that “it imparts a lively vivacity to the blend” but honestly how much can 4/10 of a percent influence a blend. In your 700 ml bottle, You’ll find only 2.8 ml of this new Clynelish. It was added not to impart a vivacity nor to celebrate Compass Box’s own spirit, but to flick the birdie to the industry as a whole together with EU and UK lawmakers, the SWA and probably to the big companies as well. This is John Glaser saying, loudly and clearly, I can sell an officially labeled three-year-old whisky for £200, and you all know that I’m probably the only one in the industry who can do that.
The beautiful thing is that fans, anoraks, and pundits alike received news of this forthcoming creation with great interest and ovation as is evidenced by the fact that the initial news of this impending release, brought to you freshly off the TTB website right here on Malt and Oak has climbed to the third most popular post on the website, not to mention the numerous likes, wows and comments on social media on the post’s shares. I will note that the USA label said it would be released at 51.6%, whereas this version is 49.2% – I’m not quite sure where that discrepancy comes from, and being Sunday night, I can’t find out at the moment. ***SEE UPDATE ON ABV BELOW***
But that’s not all. Following legal advice that Compass Box received, they have concluded that interested individuals who wish to know the exact composition of their blends, may be given that information if contact is made directly with the company. Without wasting a moment, I contacted Compass Box and asked for the exact composition of the three-year-old deluxe. This information was sent to me posthaste, with a very direct request that I not divulge this information publicly on the blog, so that they may not be accused of using bloggers as a channel to circumvent the law. While, entre nouz, I would have no scruples in making this information public, I will fully respect the company’s request, simply because they will happily provide you with that information should you contact them directly by dropping a line to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by hitting them up with a private message on their Facebook page or through Twitter.
So what is in the blend?
We have 90.7% of the blend coming from Clynelish, the youngest component of which is obviously three years old, I will say though that the rest is far from being young in any way, with 9.3% coming from what must be a very rare find indeed: a nicely aged Talisker drawn from a first fill Sherry butt.
Like I said, John Glaser has an incredible nose both for making beautiful whisky, and for creating beautiful PR to go with that whisky. In this case the master outdid himself and really stuck this one in the face of the regulators.
Okay enough with the blabber, I have a glass with a measure of this Three Year Old Deluxe and I’d like to get to the tasting!
Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe, 3,282 Bottles (49.2% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, very thin legs forming rather slowly office sturdy necklace.
Nose: The Clynelish is strong in this one with honey, a waxiness and yet with quite a bit of wood spices coming from the Sherry cask. Orange blossom, clove, lemon scented car wax, hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, and the freshness that quite belies the true age of all but the touch of young whisky in your. Maybe it does impart a “lively vivacity” after all…
Palate: first the spices wash over your tongue, with black pepper, clove and a hint of chili. There is also grapefruit rind, and only in the second tasting and you actually discern the peat from the spice there is also a subtle sweetness that washes over your tongue for the briefest moment before it is again washed over by the peppery spice.
Linger: a jalapeno coated in wax would probably leave your mouth as dry and tingly with a waxy feeling all around. The spiciness and bitterness play around in the very dry mouth you’re left with by the dram. The top of your gullet remains full of spice, and after a few minutes go by, the spiciness leaves your mouth peaty and waxy which remains with you for quite a long time.
I expected nothing less, but this really is a beautiful dram. Clynelish and Talisker work together beautifully and the refill American Oak hogsheads work so beautifully with the first fill sherry butt from Talisker. One caveat though would be that if you’re not a fan of spicy whisky this dram is in for you. For the rest of us though, this is pure delight in a bottle.
I’m glad I got to taste this whisky and post my notes for it before my pilgrimage to Scotland begins tomorrow. My review of the Spice Tree Extravaganza will probably have to wait for my return in two weeks.
Official sample provided by Compass Box. Slainte!
***UPDATE: Mr. Jonathan Gibson of Compass Box replied to my query about the ABV saying that the TTB label approval has to have a lead time measured in months, and the final formula wasn’t finalized yet at that time. Mr. Gibson stated that: “In the weeks that followed it was tweaked slightly both in terms of the proportions of components and the bottling strength to what we felt was the best possible recipe. The final bottling strength is 49.2%”.