Compass Box’s fifth incarnation of the Flaming Heart is out, in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of the company. One of the really nice things about Compass Box is that quality is king. Expressions will be discontinued if the right whisky can’t be sourced, as is clearly evidenced by the company’s list of limited releases over the years, often citing sourcing challenges as the reasons for discontinuation of expressions (see here). Flaming Heart, however, is a blend of really old and some really young Highland and Islay malts, the idea of which is to marry younger malt finished in Compass Box’s signature French oak hybrid with a body of Islay (Caol Ila) and Highland (Clynelish) malts, to create a complex whisky. The formula of the fifth release is fully disclosed:
Caol Ila makes up 65.6% of the blend (27.1% from 30 year old refill hogsheads and 38.5% from 14 year old refill hogsheads), 24.1% Clynelish aged 20 years, and 10.3% of the highly active new French oak hybrid barrels which aged a blend of five year young Highland whisky from Clynelish, Dailuaine and Teanninch for another two years.
This whisky is far more traditional, and far peatier than ‘This is Not a Luxury Whisky’, released with it to commemorate the 15th anniversary.
Compass Box Flaming Heart, 15th Anniversary Edition, 12,060 bottles (48.9% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber, legs form rather quickly with thick droplets and a lot of residue on the glass.
Nose: The Caol Ila is definitely in control of this blend. Indeed, Islay is here with salty peat as the dominant aroma on the nose but the wood spice is right there with a hint of waxiness. There’s a sweetness (honey?), with some fruity notes. The peat is really interesting, salty but not overly maritime. A drop of water brings out honey and touches of vanilla with more wax.
Palate: Sour peatiness, the mouth feel is like a mint candy with sharpness and sweetness on the tongue. Pepper appears after a few seconds. A few drops of water strengthen the spice and bring out the waxiness on the palate.
Linger: Very smoky on the roof of the mouth, and peat with spice down the gullet. You’ll get hints of sweetness on the tongue. The smoke is very dominant in the finish, but there’s a bitterness under it. The finish is mouth drying, with the whole finish made spicier with a few drops of water.
If you like peat and if you like the Clynelish waxy notes, you’ll love this expression! Needless to say that it shouts quality, it wouldn’t be out there with the Compass Box label had it not been, but this is really a beautiful whisky. Well done, John!