Compass Box Spice Tree is a blend of Highland malt whiskies that have been creatively spiced up with a second maturation in oak casks fitted with new French oak heads with three different levels of toasting. The different levels of toasting allows the spice rich French oak to release different flavour compounds and absorb unwanted flavours through what is in effect carbon filtration, and this contributes to the energetic and intricate display of full-flavoured picante magic that is the Spice Tree. At £39 or $85 it is a good value malt blend that showcases high quality Highland malts with a creative spicy twist.
|Toasting Temperature of oak and flavours, source: World Cooperage|
The predecessor to this delicious whisky, also called Spice Tree, was discontinued by Compass Box because the company was threatened with legal action by the Scotch Whisky Association (“SWA”). Instead of using new French oak barrel heads, the original Spice Tree had used oak stave inserts which were placed within used oak barrels and the SWA claimed that this practice was illegal. Compass Box chose to re-invent Spice Tree as a result, and this is why Compass Box now relies on the new French oak barrel heads, and not inner staves, to give the Spice Tree its unique spicy twist.
Nose: Rich waves of vanilla emerge with candied citrus peel, dried fruit, spicy gingerbread, chocolate, rolled oats and mild scorched nuts, as herbaceous undertones merge beautifully with oily barley and mild bourbon notes.
Taste: Rounded, rich and dark with lots of spice, zest, tang and oak, the whisky has an entry of rich dark chocolate, clove and almond biscuits, orange peel cake, scorched crushed nuts, toasted vanilla, gingerbread, burnt bitter toffee and dried herbs. At mid-palate the heat intensifies with the bite of sweet picked ginger that radiates in the palate, gently warming it with sparks of cinnamon, clove and overtones of a dark chocolate black forest layered with dark cherries and a softer vanilla.
Finish: Deliciously oak driven but hardly oak dominated, the finish offers intensifying clove, cinnamon, dark chocolate and burnt vanillas with the lingering sugars of reduced caremalised cherries.