Compass Box This is Not a Luxury Whisky

CB Luxury whisky

Recommended use: Serve neat

Malt Mileage Rating: stars 4.5

Type: Blended Scotch whisky

Origin: Scotland

ABV: 53.1%

Price: £150

1.The whisky

In a recent post on Malt Mileage I questioned the perception of “quality” in whisky, and I referred to studies and science to support my argument that enjoying whisky is likely to be wildly subjective and, as a result, whisky “awards” are also likely to be nonsense; subjective taste dressed as measures of objective quality.Compass Box appears to be getting at a similar issue, by releasing a whisky that questions perceptions of what constitutes a “luxury” whisky: This is Not a Luxury Whisky.

Compass Box writes:

This is not a luxury whisky. Or is it?

The inspiration for this limited release is René Magritte’s 1929 work “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, a Surrealist painting which challenges peoples’ perceptions of reality. Availability Limited Edition release of 4,992 bottles. Bottled in August 2015.

The reality is, these days we hear more and more commentators talking about ‘luxury’ whiskies, which are presumably whiskies that are either rare or expensive, or, possibly, both.

On one level, similar to the role Magritte’s painting played in the art world, this release is about getting people to consider for themselves what a ‘luxury’ whisky is.

On another level, a level we consider much more important, this limited release is about the liquid. This is about the whisky in the bottle, which we have painstakingly sourced and blended, and the engagement and enjoyment and pleasure this whisky will bring when shared with others.

This latter point is what we believe a ‘luxury’ whisky is. And at Compass Box, this is what we believe whisky, generally speaking, is all about.

Compass Box This is Not a Luxury Whisky is comprised of 79% 19 year old malt whisky from Glen Ord, 10.1% 40 year old grain whisky from Strathclyde, 6.9% 40 year old grain whisky from Girvan and 4% 30 year old malt whisky from Caol Ila.

2. Tasting notes

On the nose I get waves of vanilla and cereal notes, dry grass, hints of smoke, nutmeg, toffee, boiled candy, hints of licorice, fruit bread and passion fruit. The palate presents with dry grass, mild smoke, licorice, caramels, brown sugar, cocoa and syrup, and sitting in the backdrop is a herbal glow with grapey pomace and hints of sherry. Cooked pear develops, and then layers of honey with soft floral notes. The palate dries as it nears a nutty finish, which offers faint maple syrup, vanilla, chocolate and fading smoke.

3. Conclusions

I won’t mince words. Compass Box This is Not a Luxury Whisky is a spectacular blended whisky. There is no other way to put it. There is so much happening in this whisky, and the flavours are beautifully balanced. Do I think it is a “luxury” whisky? Well, no. There is no such thing as a “luxury” whisky. There are rare whiskies, expensive whiskies, old whiskies etc but not “luxury” whiskies. This is an exceptional whisky, though. Superb.

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