The Circus – Compass Box Blended Whisky (49%)

Not very much is actually known about three of the four parts of the whisky that makes up The Circus. I thought that this was just a lack of information, but it seems that John Glaser decided to back off a bit from his frontal war with the SWA, as the accompanying sample, of the Enlightenment, also lacked age statements on the components, and it is actually stated in the accompanying brochure that he doesn’t wish to run afoul of the regulations. I can understand that, and can only restate my full support of the transparency campaign.

When the package arrived in the mail today, I knew this was going to be a treat. I have yet to forget the utter delight I had tasting The General, and these casks making up The Circus pretty much have the same story that The General had: Old blends left in their marrying casks for a long time, only here they were all in sherry butts whereas with The General they were from two parcels, one in sherry and one in ex bourbon casks. My sweet tooth awake, I turned to reading the brochure, and here’s what I discovered:

Photo Credit: Compass Box

Photo Credit: Compass Box

Essentially, what we have here is an old blended sherry bomb. Two of the parcels were pre blended Scotch (so malt and grain) and one parcel, making up 26% of the blend was blended grain. The three blends were in refill sherry butts, and some 15% came from a first fill sherry butt from Benrinnes, and if you want to get an idea of what an older Benrinnes can do in a good sherry butt, take a look here.

All in all, we’re probably looking at about 50% malt and 50% grain, and considering the long time they married, this really came out to be an absolute delight….

Photo Credit: Compass Box

Photo Credit: Compass Box

Compass Box The Circus, Blended Scotch Whisky, 2940 Bottles (49% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze, quite viscous with a very long lasting necklace letting off very thin droplets slowly.

Nose: Deep sherry with orange peel, sultanas, prunes and some dry apricot leather and wood spices – nutmeg and a gentle pepper mix, with a hint of cooked clove. Also, hits of demerara sugar, some old leather and a hint of furniture wax. Something earthy, with cotton candy. But there’s also something fresh, somewhat creamy.

Palate: Sweet and spicy, with treacle, dried fruit – dried apricots and prunes,with sharp cinnamon and some citrus on the palate. You can tell there’s grain in there, but it’s so well integrated that the softness it imparts is in the background, yet is very present. A light citrusy bitterness.

Linger: Cinnamon sweetness and burn, like after chewing cinnamon gum. The spice gives way to some bitterness and dryness in the linger, which over time, dissipates and leaves sweetness behind, remaining for quite some time.


I expected nothing less than beautiful, and got just that. This is a true sherry bomb with a certain softness to it. While £190 is not cheap, this is the highest quality you could expect to get from a well aged blend, and is not out of line for the quality of liquid in the bottle.

Official sample received from The Compass Box. Thanks Jonathan!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *