Malt Mileage Rating: ★★★★☆
Type: Blended malt
Compass Box 3 year old Deluxe is a limited edition blended malt Scotch whisky. It is made up of a blend of three different whiskies: 0.4% is 3 year old malt whisky produced near Brora and aged in a first-fill American standard barrel, 90.3% is malt whisky (which Compass Box say is ‘considerably older’ than 3 years old) also produced near Brora and aged in a refill hogshead, and 9.3% is malt whisky produced on the Isle of Skye and aged in a first fill sherry butt.
Compass Box can only lawfully disclose the age of the youngest component of this whisky (which would be the 3 year old malt whisky that makes up a mere 0.4% of the whisky’s liquid volume). Paradoxically, EU and UK regulations make it unlawful for Compass Box to share the ages of the two malt whiskies that, when combined, make up 99.6% of the whisky’s liquid volume. This is the case even though achieving market transparency and protecting consumers are important purposes of the regulations.
Rather than release this product as a “no age statement” whisky (which conceals all information about a whisky’s age from consumers), Compass Box chose to label it as a “3 year old”. Nicely played, because this seems to demonstrate the bizarre effect of the regulations.
Nose: Honey, beeswax, waxed apples, vanilla, cut grass and cucumber with faint wisps of smoke, oak chips, cinnamon and burning candles. The peated component in this blend sits in the foreground, and despite making up less than 10% of the blend, it seems to give each note glosses of ash and soot. There is also the smell of fabric and stained wood.
Taste: Honey is interwoven with vanilla, orange and mango, but sweet sugary zesty lemon cake dominates (with lemon glaze and icing). Waxed apples emerge as on the nose, but mixed with tropical fruit. Soft peat smoke sits in the backdrop, adding a touch of sooty darkness to what is otherwise a fruity affair. There is also wood and chewed pencils.
Finish: The finish is drying with peppery and fiery spice. The taste of orange, tart pineapple and citrus is what remains from the fruit salad on the palate. Lemon sherbet fizzles. Oak spices fade. And the curtains close.
Overall: What a terrific dram! Not only does it taste great, but this little package of Highland and island Scottish malt defiantly sticks it to the man. What’s not to love?