Compass Box The Spice Tree, NAS, 46 %
The current Compass Box The Spice Tree is actually the second incarnation of this whisky. The first was launched back in 2005, but Compass Box was forced to discontinue production under a legal threat by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) for their use of French oak inner staves in the casks used for second maturation. Over the following three years they developed a new maturation process and Compass Box The Spice Tree was then relaunched in September 2009.
This whisky is a blended malt (vatted malt), made from 100 % malt whisky sourced from northern Highland distilleries; Clynelish, Dalmore and Dailuaine. The primary maturation is in a mix of first-fill and refill American oak. The now revised secondary maturation uses barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads. They use oak with three different levels of toasting on the barrel heads, thus allowing them to blend the resultant whiskies to create additional layers of complexity. This secondary maturation lasts as long as two years.
Nose (23/25): Wow! What a fantastic, rich nose! This certainly is a spice tree, and we are going to climb it all the way to the top. It starts off very fresh; with oranges, strawberries, white pepper and vanilla (almost bourbon-like). Then it develops, growing a bit darker, a bit bolder – black pepper, dried herbs, butterscotch, aniseed, and some faint oaky notes. A truly elegant nose.
Taste (22/25): More spices, big surprise! Less sweet now, but still very rich and complex. Pepper, ginger, vanilla, caramel, and herbs.
Finish (21/25): Surprisingly long finish. Lighter and a bit more sweet on the palate now. Chocolate is added to the spicy symphony, with more caramel and fudge. Some licorice towards the end.
Balance (23/25): A really nice whisky! I am more and more filled with respect and in fact awe at what the master blenders out there can put together. It is bordering on wizardry. Cheers!
Image from Compass Box.