Compass Box – This is Not a Luxury Whisky

For Adventurous Chameleon Flavor Lovers Neat Before and After Dinner

photo courtesy Compass Box Whisky Company

Whisky Reviewed: This is Not a Luxury Whisky
Distiller: Compass Box
Region: Mixed Islay & Highland Malts, Glasgow & Lowland Grain Whiskies
ABV: 53.1%
Suggested Retail Price: $250+
Distiller Rating: 92
The Whisky Shelf Rating: Top Shelf

Mark’s Review

I get it. Ok? Rene Magritte and Surrealism; a play on words from an L.A. County Museum painting. So many metaphors of this Compass Box edition exist. Yeah, they’re interesting but it tells you nothing of what’s in the bottle.

So after work one bright Friday eve, I ambled over to Tommy Tardie’s Fine & Rare, sat down, and ordered a pour. Whatever my notions of master distiller John Glaser’s art, I didn’t expect what soared from the crystal. The malt whisky mix of sherried 19-year-old Glen Ord and earthy 30-year-old Caol Ila freed themselves and rose in an instant. Floral and sweet with a gentle smoke, I savored their presence. Then all of a sudden, 40-year-old Strathclyde and Girvan grain spirits swirled into my senses with deep, rich scents of butter, vanilla and coconut.

I wanted my nose to stay in the glass for hours but my taste buds screamed out. As I sipped this gem, each of these striking aromas emerged as flavors. Of course, you’d predict the Ila peat to roar. I’m happy to say there’s no let down in that regard. But in the twinkling of an eye, a maze of complexity dashed in to surround me in a swirl of glory. The finish only continued those unreal tastes and went on forever.

I had to catch my breath.

Sure, it was the end of the week and I hoped for a few surprises, but this surpassed all. I stepped off my bar stool and walked around the place to clear my head. When I returned, a repeat of the process unleashed more endless splendor. Adding a drop or two of water (only) put a further fine point on the event.

The Adventurer will find in this dram a perfect foil for an idyllic sensual journey. Please don’t ruin this trance like beauty in a cocktail and no single meal can match the neural wealth.

Joy awaits you in this bottled Magritte after supper. But if your partner is a romantic soul, share a neat sample before a delicate dinner. Then linger, gaze and talk in hushed tones. That’s called dining NOT eating. It unites the realms of dreams and reality. Our friend Rene would be proud. Isn’t that what makes life worth living?

Mark Garbin’s Evaluation

Aromas & Flavor Appeals to: Optimal Client Type Great For:
Subtlety Aficionado Apprentice Cocktails
Power Flavor Admirer Enthusiast Neat Before Dinner
Balanced Devotee Adventurer With Food
Chameleon Lover Hedonist Dessert or Afterwards review: The idea of luxury is about wealth, which also means richness, of which this whisky shows off like a socialite on a Beverly Hills shopping spree. A lush, extra creamy balance of vanilla, coconut, spice and a puff of sweet smoke play on the palate. All of this takes a break to stop for a cheeky hit of nutty sherry before returning to the mix, which ends in a long, distinguished wave.

The Whisky Shelf review: Compass Box’s “This is Not a Luxury Whisky” is a wonderfully delicious Scotch. It’s not nearly as loud and intense as other “Top Shelf” rated cask strength sherry-influenced Scotches such as Craigellachie 21 or Ben Nevis 21 Old Malt Cask, but it’s still great in its own way. It’s a more mature, calm, and composed Scotch that gently bathes you in dense and deep fruit, peat, wood, spice, and just a little smoke instead of trying to overwhelm you all at once, likely heavily influenced by so much of the blend being at least 30 years old, and 17% being 40 years old whiskey.