Compass Box spice Tree is swimming up stream, against a rising current. Yet, despite the unprecedented interest in single malt scotch, blended scotches still maintain a lion’s share of the market. Blended scotch accounts for around 75 – 80% of all scotch sold worldwide.
But it’s not only single malts that’s cutting into the blended market. The resurgence of Irish whiskey and the impressive growth of the Bourbon and rye markets have had their impact. Now the Japanese come along and the besieged blended scotch market has a new antagonist.
But fear not blended drinkers, the old guard are not laying down. In recent years, there has been a release of new blends, some of which are truly outstanding and worthy of attention. So, open your minds and your taste buds and give them a try.
But before we go much farther I need to clarify one point. I am referring to a specific type of blend, a blending of single malts without the addition grain rye, wheat or corn. They are single malts from several different distilleries blended together. Traditionally they were referred to as “vatted malts”. Having said that, grain blended whisky is worth a discussion of its own but just not here today.
Compass Box’s Spice Tree is an outstanding example. It is a blend of highland malts from three different areas. Each malt chosen for its own unique contribution. For fruitiness it’s a malt from the villages of Bora. For meatiness it’s a malt from Carron and for perfume a malt from Alness works just fine.
Compass Box is an innovative outfit and they are not afraid to take on the status quo. This trait got them into a little trouble with the Scotch Whisky Association concerning their use of French Oak for barrel staves. They did away with the staves but continue to use French Oak heads during the second maturation process. This results in a rich, intense malt whisky redolent of baking spices and layered with toasty oak accents that complement the underlying distillery character.
So if you’re feeling a little rebellious or would just like to swim against the stream, give Compass Box Spice Tree a try.
Compass Box Spice Tree
Producer: Compass Box Whisky Company
Price Range: $$$
Awards: San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2007, 15
Tasting Notes —
Color: Deep honey and amber tones. Medium legs.
Nose: Malty sweetness, cereal grains, honey. A level of warmth in the nose.
Palette: Sweet, full, and round without a hint of heaviness. Nicely sweet like sea-salted caramel sauce, no doubt due to the influence of Clynelish. Two-thirds into the palate comes the full force of spice notes, just as advertised. Clove, warm cinnamon, wave on wave and layer upon layer of flavor
Finish: Long and sustained, yet gentle alcohol burn with continued clove notes through the finish.
$$$$$ = Greater than $100
$$$$ = $80 – 100
$$$ = $50 – 80
$$ = $30 – 50
$ = Less than $30
Further Ratings & Reviews
There are many websites and blogs that do an excellent job of reviewing and rating whiskies. As mentioned above The Whiskybits Composite Score is based on an average of at least three reviews conducted by industry leaders. The reviews sites normally referenced include The LA Whisk(e)y Society, The Whisky Reviewer, Proof 66, The Whisky Advocate and The Whisky Jug.