Compass Box Flaming Heart Limited Edition (2015)

Flaming heart

Recommended use: Serve neat

Rating: ★★★★★ Top pick

Recommendation: Buy it

Type: Scotch malt blend

Origin: Scotland

ABV: 48.9%

Compass Box Flaming Heart Limited Edition (2015) is a blend of malt whiskies including 38.5% 14 year old Caol Ila, 27.1% 30 year old Caol Ila, 24.1% 20 year old Clynelish and 10.3% seven year old blended malt from Clynelish, Teaninich and Dailuaine.


Vanilla, caramels, waxy green apples, grape lip gloss and honeycomb add some sweetness to what is otherwise a very complex bouquet of old whisky with a beating heart of smoky Coal Ila malt; find a whole workman’s shop, textiles, freshly varnished wood and saw dust. Some of the peat is softened and refined from many years in oak, while the rest is younger and carries more vibrant maritime qualities. A fascinating medicinal note hits my nose mostly in the form of cough drops and menthol chest rub, with a minty burst; but as the whisky rests the smell of sweet and sour barbecue pork with dried orange zest and pineapple leaps out and stays.


Like smoking the butt of a heaven sent but dry and flaky Cuban cigar, burning embers and ash carrying the taste of tar and spicy wood spark to life on the palate. There is the taste of a smoldering hot barbecue, and peat smoke gives way to dry apple cider. Oysters Kilpatrick seem to be pronounced, with spicy Worcestershire sauce and smoky bacon, and, a dollop of barbecue sauce.  With that taste of oyster is the faint bite of rock salt, perfect.  This beautiful whisky is spicy, sweet, smoky and downright delicious. Also find cinnamon, dried orange zest and mango skins.


The finish is smoky with barbecue, dried cranberries, drying peat, dark chocolate, wood, roasted hazelnuts, lingering spice and a resurgence of that herbal menthol and minty note detected on the nose. 


Buy it!  The Compass Box Flaming Heart Limited Edition (2015) is the kind of whisky we all dream about, but rarely have the opportunity to taste; it is basically a Frankenstein of a whisky with a number of different component parts which combine to electrify the palate with lots of smoke, spice, old wood, refined and aged peaty malt, younger peaty malt, herbs and mild medical notes. This very special whisky melds the finest qualities of young and old whisky to create a seasoned peat head’s fantasy, all designed and brought to life by Compass Box; all the bottle needs is two bolts on either side of its neck.

Beam Suntory smoky whisky tasting and some tips on how to nose and taste whisky


On 2 December 2015 Malt Mileage had the opportunity to attend a Beam Suntory event at the Henry Bucks menswear store in Melbourne, “Peated Malts of Distinction – a journey through five world class smoky whiskies”.


Beam Suntory’s core smoky whiskies were on tasting, paired with a delectable assortment of cheeses. The whiskies included Ardmore Legacy Highland malt whisky, Connemara Irish whiskey, and, Islay malts Bowmore 12 year old, Laphroaig Select Cask and Laphroaig Triple Wood. On the night we were guided through the whiskies by Brendon Rogers, whisky ambassador for Beam Suntory. Brendon proved to be extremely knowledgeable in whisky production and maturation.

wp-1449296757068.jpgBrendon reaffirmed the importance of good tasting practice to fully appreciate a whisky, and shared with the group how to nose and taste a whisky; an important but often overlooked aspect of whisky tasting. This good tasting practice seemed to be in line with accepted practice, including much of Richard Paterson’s approach to whisky tasting, and included: (1) agitate a whisky by swirling it in the glass before nosing or tasting it, not only does it look cool but it also seems to enliven the whisky after its time resting in the bottle; (2) use the right glass, preferably a Glencairn in my opinion, to catch all those beautiful aromas and hold them in the glass ready for your nose; (3) don’t stick your nose in the glass when first nosing a whisky, but hold the glass just under your nose and breath in through your mouth to smell the whisky and also reduce the aroma of alcohol (think of it as whisky foreplay); (4) when tasting the whisky, swish it gently around your tongue and savour it; and (5) after swallowing a whisky, breath in and then out to really get the flavour of the finish. It was great to see this knowledge being shared with whisky consumers, in addition to the great work of Richard Paterson in his online videos.

The star of the night, for me, was the Laphroaig Triple Wood – a complex smoky malt with beautiful notes of oloroso sherry and Spanish oak cutting through the peat and American oak driven vanillas – one of my very favourite Islay malts which I return to time and time again at home. The Bowmore 12 year old and Ardmore Legacy hit the spot too, though they did not light my night on fire like the Triple Wood did. As for the Connemara and the Select Caskimage, they seemed to be the least enjoyed among the people within my vicinity; far too mild mannered, though this is to be expected in such “breakfast drams” such as the Select Cask.

Overall, this Beam Suntory tasting was a fantastic night with one stand out whisky – the Laphroaig Triple Wood – that makes me praise whoever first decided to store peaty whisky in used sherry casks. Peaty malt and sherry wood: a brilliant composition if done properly which is probably one of the world’s best flavour combinations for the devout peat head. Amen. Try the Laphroaig Triple Wood with some blue cheese to accentuate the peaty smack in the face.

Ardbeg Perpetuum


Rating: ★★★★

Recommendation: Consider it

Type: Single malt Scotch whisky

Origin: Islay, Scotland

ABV: 47.4%

Reaction:  😀

Ardbeg Perpetuum is a single malt that was released to celebrate Ardbeg’s 200th anniversary. It is comprised of whiskies of different ages, that have been matured in both bourbon and sherry barrels, and then combined to create Ardbeg Perpetuum.


The whisky has a very pale white wine colour, similar to the pale yellow of a Pinot Gris. When swirled in the glass, this whisky forms a thin oily film that clings to the inside of the glass and as the film begins to recede evenly dispersed legs take form around most of the circumference of the glass. The legs stick to the glass long after the whisky is swirled around.


Sweet toffee apple, sticky caramel, milk chocolate and luscious waves of vanilla soften the bite of peat and the sting of a ground peppercorn medley, which tease the nostrils with salty cubes of lean prosciutto. Ripe and browning peach, pear and nectarine develop with orange and lemon peel, with chocolate brownies and honey glazed pecans. This dram reminds me of a fresh cake of coal tar soap and a pecan pie… no, wait… make that also smoky myrrh and cured meats. This is an exotic and interesting bouquet.


The flavours on the entry are somewhat subdued, though by no means boring. Peat, dark chocolate and mandarin peel are suddenly interrupted with a salty spray, and the flavours merge with spices and lead into sweet picked ginger. The whisky then becomes peppery, as a soft bed of creamy vanilla supports the peat. The saltiness progressively develops, first as salted caramel and then into cured meats – first lean and then quite fatty, with a luscious creamy film starting to form on the base of the palate. All the while there is a wooded smokiness, which remains a constant theme.


The spices linger, with bit of butter and dark chocolate coated ginger bread. The palate seems to sweeten into the finish, first with pear and then with caramels. There is a fatty film that remains on the palate, with peppercorns and salty pancetta.

Bottom line:

Consider it, if you are a fan of Islay whisky and you enjoy a drinkable peaty malt. To say that this whisky is moreish or drinkable is an understatement, as evidenced by the fact that as soon as my whisky glass is filled with this malt it is not long before the glass needs refilling. At Ardbeg Day, similarly, five drams of this malt vanished amidst talk and laughter without much thought – now that is the best test of a great whisky. The only drawback to this malt – apart from its price – is that, despite being very enjoyable, it seems to underwhelm at first. That aside, each sip of this malt makes me want to go back for more – probably why this whisky has become my Friday night malt.

It is perfect on a cold night paired with comfy pyjamas and a good movie.

“Past, Present and Future”: Artbeg Exhibition celebrates 200 years of Ardbeg’s “untamed” single malt [exclusive images]


To celebrate 200 years of Ardbeg whisky, the distillery will exhibit images which are intended to capture the “untamed” spirit of Ardbeg. This exhibition is creatively called ARTBEG.  

The Artbeg Exhibition, which will be revealed today, marks Ardbeg Day (to be celebrated on 30 May 2015). The exhibition is comprised of 20 layered digital collages which can be viewed on the external wall of the Ardbeg distillery’s West Maltings building and on The exhibition will be removed at the end of this year.   

The collages are created by photographer Peter Heaton, who is proclaimed to be an “ardent” Ardbeg single malt fan. After visiting the distillery in 2014, Mr Heaton created the collages by layering his photographs of Ardbeg and Islay with material from the Ardbeg archives. This includes correspondence to and from Ardbeg, bills and other records.

Mr Heaton, speaking of the exhibition, said:

“I have always had a fascination with Islay and its single malts, particularly Ardbeg. The exhibition interprets the Distillery over time and I wanted to create layered, complex imagery which would encourage people to give the work some time and think about the theme of past, present and future.”

Ardbeg’s Distillery Manager, Mickey Heads, also had a few words to say about the exhibition, and said:

“This exhibition provides an intriguing twist on the story of Ardbeg – and contains more than a few surprises. The complexity of these remarkable images makes you stop and think about the whisky’s heritage and its future”.

Malt Mileage is very fortunate to have – with thanks to EVH – received two exclusive images from the Artbeg exhibition to share with readers. 

 The committee meets (1)

The first image, “the committee meets”, is a collection of images that contain the 9th Century Kildalton Cross, which stands near the Ardbeg distillery, a vintage map of Islay and a document which makes reference to the “Sound of Islay”; the narrow straight between the isles of Islay and Jura off the west coast of Scotland.

The picture itself is dark, with what seems to be a storm brewing in the distance. The ashy and sooty look of the collage captures the mood of Ardbeg’s signature smoky peat, while the sun softly shining though the darkness seems to reflect Ardbeg’s sweetness – what some call the “peaty paradox”.

Ardbeg Distillery from the pier

The second image, “Ardbeg distillery from the pier”, captures a shot of the Ardbeg distillery rising out of old archived handwritten letters which were sent to the distillery.

The waves bashing against the rocks signals a turbulence shared in the first image, though it predominately seems calm and picturesque. Having been raised by the coast most of my life, the smell of seaweed and the sea comes to my nose just looking at this image; triggered by the yellowish roughage. This seems to capture the maritime nature of island whisky, such as that from Islay.

Art tends to be a subjective experience, and the above notes reflect what my eyes perceive. What do you perceive?

Ardbeg fans are encouraged to sign up to the Ardbeg committee at:

Port Charlotte PC 12


Rating: stars 4

Type: Single malt

Origin: Islay, Scotland

ABV: 58.7%

Port Charlotte PC 12 is Bruichladdich’s eighth release of the PC series, which is a series of heavily peated cask strength malts. It has been aged in oak casks for 12 years. 


Imagine going to a coast side farmer’s festival with a bunch of cigar smokers. This bouquet is packed with barnyard aromas, wood and dry hay, with beaming heart notes of a butter, toffee, nut nougat, bubble gum, sweet rose, cinnamon, cotton candy, citrus, sweet sappy wood, and sea salt. All the while, the aroma of burning matches and the chocolaty and woodsy scent of a fresh maduro cigar gently whispers… “drink me”. The smell of Neapolitan salami and taralli, packed with anise seed, is carried by citrusy notes of lemon cake and Cointreau.


Immediately, the sweet nip of sherry strikes the palate. It succumbs to waves of peat smoke, woodsmoke, dates, and marshmallows over a campfire of twigs and hay. There is something spectacularly complex and woodsy about this malt. Then the palate dries, buoyed by cinnamon, lime, green toffee apple, and honey.  


The finish is smoky, peaty, peppery, woodsy, drying, spicy, and, citrusy; particularly of lime, orange peel and mouth puckering lemon meringue. Fading notes of anise seed, raisin, sarsaparilla and licorice also intermingle with warming overtones of cinnamon and pickled ginger.


Buy it. Jack Nicholson’s face has never randomly come to my mind. For some reason, I can see his raised eyebrows, trade mark smile and dark sunglasses. It might be my subconscious calling. Maybe this whisky is “As Good As It Gets”. Whatever the reason, there is very little I would change about this malt. If potent and fiery peaty malts are your thing, with a bit of sherry oak and a guaranteed 12 years of age on the clock, this is your whisky!

BenRiach 17 year old “Septendecim”

benriach 17

Score: ★★★

Type: Single malt whisky

Origin: Speyside, Scotland

ABV: 46%

Overall reaction: 🙂

BenRiach is a distillery that is located in the Speyside region of Scotland and it produces both unpeated and peated expressions. In this post Malt Mileage tastes the peated BenRiach 17 year old “Septendecim”. With a name that sounds more like a Harry Potter spell than a whisky, Septendecim (which is Latin for seventeen) is matured in ex-bourbon casks for seventeen years and once the oak gods have done their work infusing the spirit with flavour – abracadabra! – the whisky is non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% alcohol by volume.


The bouquet immediately strikes me as flat and lethargic, and while the whisky is certainly well balanced and its flavours are integrated there seems to be a lack of depth and flair – it just seems to keep me content, without heightening or drawing in my interest. The peat is entangled with vanilla custard, raisin, baked green apple, powdered chocolate, salted caramel macaroon and toasted coconut. Leather emerges with brittle flaky chocolate croissant, and a used coffee filter. The aromas are certainly there in spades, but they do not seem to be much of a presence in the glass and can be easily missed.


On the entry the whisky is as bland as the nose suggests, but then magic happens. The peat intensifies towards mid-palate, lifted by wood, honey, cinnamon, apricot crumble, dark chocolate, oak spice and the taste of fabric and rubber – it reminds of the spray of interior car treatment, and seat belts. Spectacular.  


The finish presents with vanilla, cracked pepper, caramel and peat, with the taste of dried chili skins and grilled peppers lingering.  

Bottom line:

Consider it. This whisky seems to start slow but it really picks up some spark towards the finish, showcasing an array of vibrant spices buoyed by the American oak infused peaty malt.  


SmokeheadRating: ★★★★

Origin: Islay, Scotland

Type: Single malt whisky

ABV: 43%

Price: $A58 (Aus), US$44-$60 (USA)

Ian MacLeod distillers, the makers of the peat free Glengoyne, have decided to share with the world its take on peat and release Smokehead. There are no stories of pristine streams and impressive peat bogs to tell you about. Ian MacLeod distillers seem to skip all that and instead let the whisky speak for itself. Smokehead is a single malt from Islay and while the distillery from which it is taken may be top secret, one thing is clear: this smoky delight is seriously good whisky. The whisky told me so.


Vanilla, raisin, caramel, watermelon and cantaloupe are interwoven with peat, and a mild maritime note – imagine a vodka rinsed oyster with sour cream and chives, coriander and a slither of ginger – gently shines in the foreground with sea salt, lemon, zingy brown vinegar, earthy pear and the dusty cocoa from a cappuccino. Rich layers of oiliness and creaminess seem to define the bouquet of this whisky, along with the curious notes of crinkle cut crisps/chips – sour cream and chives, balsamic vinegar and sea salt, and, lemon and cracked pepper especially. It might be because of, one thinks, the oily undertones in this whisky. Lovely stuff!


On the entry the peat explodes on the palate with notes of honey, citrus and passion fruit, but then it softens momentarily allowing toffee apple, chocolate, vanilla and salty maritime notes to shine though. The peace is short-lived, and a surge of peat returns only to fade slowly into the finish.


On the finish the increasingly softening peat intermingles with fudge, lemon drops, cracked pepper and warming chili.

Bottom line:

Buy it! At its price, Smokehead is probably the best value peaty single malt on the market – its big, bold, fiery and is happy to give you a solid Scottish punch in the mouth just in case you’re not paying attention. This is a whisky for the peat lovers, as the name suggests, but don’t expect any labyrinthine oaky complexity – this is mostly supercharged peat, pure and simple but so delicious it hurts thinking how much I’ve paid for other peaty pleasures.

Match with:

This whisky was delicious with medium bodied oily cigars. Try it dashed over oysters or with some smoked salmon. Liven it all up with some sprigs of coriander and red chili. Even better, lobby your local Chinese restaurant to get a bottle of Smokehead and try it with steamed XO oysters.