An interesting tale, this one. Compass Box originally released “The Spice Tree” back in 2005, to what I understand was considerable critical acclaim. A messy little ado rose with the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) over the method of maturation, and in turn ended in “The Spice Tree” being deemed ‘illegal’ by SWA standards. Fast forward a couple of years, technical snafu worked out satisfactorily to all parties, and voila…the re-emergence of a truly enjoyable vatted malt.
Damn. What a neat little product Compass Box has put together. A celebration of true whisky production evident in the lack of chill-filtration or artificial coloring. Brilliantly bottled at a healthy 46% as well. The whisky itself is a lovely rich golden amber color with thick legs if you give it a gentle swirl in the glass. Oily and rich to the eye as well as the palate.
First thing to hit the nose is a big spicy sweetness. Something sort of zesty…perhaps orange rind…a little more tart than the fruit itself. This is tempered by a bit of vanilla and smoke. A swish over the palate brings that sweetness right up front and compliments it with some spice and malt. You’ll find a big oak nuttiness to it, soft vanilla edges and a charred roasted marshmallow flavor. A little peat smoke rounds out the back. The finish is long and warming. “The Spice Tree” is a bit heavier than the other Compass Box products I’ve tried thus far. This is a good thing.
This whisky, like most in the Compass Box line, sports such a unique profile that it is quite difficult to predict the extent of its appeal, as it is somewhat challenging to draw parallels to other whiskies. If the opportunity presents itself, do try, and let me know what you think.
Though “The Spice Tree” likely won’t hit the Canadian market for several months, we were fortunate enough to sample it at a recent tasting hosted by Compass Box’s John Glaser. I fear the price point on this one will put it out of reach for many (just a speculation), but I personally will anxiously be awaiting word on a Canadian release date.
Nice work, Compass Box.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Pat at www.standstillphotography.ca