Friday 1 July 2016

Tasted #304 - 305: Compass Box "Enlightenment" and "The Circus"

It was only a few months ago we wrote about Compass Box's transparency campaign, and tasted a few samples they'd kindly sent our way. Fast forward to last week, when another package appeared on the doorstep, this time containing a generous sample of each of Compass Box's latest offerings - "The Circus" and "Enlightenment".

Enlightenment continues the Transparency campaign by setting out to:
"...encourage the industry to consider the absurdity of a system that prevents producers from telling consumers exactly what has gone into the whisky they are drinking."
Pretty hard to argue with that logic. A limited run of 5,922 bottles worldwide, Enlightenment is bottled at 46% ABV, non chill-filtered and at its natural colour. It contains malt whiskies from Clynelish, Glentauchers, Balblair and Mortlach, making it a blended malt rather than a blend.

The Circus, on the other hand, celebrates old parcels of pre-blended Scotch Malt and Grain whisky (married in Sherry butts) that Compass Box recently uncovered, and is said to be a combination that displays magic, "like the very best of circuses". A limited run of 2,490 bottles worldwide, The Circus is bottled at a slightly higher 49% ABV and, like Enlightenment is non chill-filtered and bottled at its natural colour. It contains Malt whisky from Benrinnes and blended Scotch and Grain whiskies from refill sherry butts.

Compass Box "Enlightenment" (46% ABV, NAS, Blended Malt Scotch whisky, one of 5,922 bottles, bottled by Compass Box, Scotland, £49.54)

Colour: Light, pale straw.

Nose: Candy apples and fresh green apples. So fresh and vibrant. There's a little freshly cut grass, but apple overhwelmingly dominates here (in a good way). I can't recall a recent whisky exhibiting so much apple.

Palate: More apples, but dusted with cinnamon. Lots of fresh fruit (pears, apples, lemons) and quite a lot of spice. Very smooth and the ABV feels "just right". Apple pie with a dollop of cream on the side.

Finish: Short to medium in length, with cinnamon spice and some orange zest.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. Really very good. Judging by the fact that 95.7% of the liquid comes from 1st fill barrels, but the colour is so light, I'm guessing most of the whisky is relatively young...but who cares? This is a fantastic whisky and a testament to what a talented blender can produce. This could easily become a go-to summer whisky.

Compass Box "The Circus" (49% ABV, NAS, Blended Scotch whisky, bottled by Compass Box, Scotland, £154.17)
Colour: Orange-brown.

Nose: Trademark sherry notes initially, but without any hints of sulphur. Sultanas, nutmeg, dried apricots and some whole oranges. Vibrant, clean, fresh. 

Palate: Big smooth caramel notes - rich and instantly mouth-filling. Lots of dried fruit, pot-pourri, brazil nuts. There's oak, but it's perfectly in check. There's a big maltiness too. At a guess, there's some pretty old malt whisky in here.

Finish: Long, rich, hazelnuts and burnt toast.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. Another "luxurious", delicious, drink-me-right-now dram from Compass Box. Can these guys do no wrong? would again like to thank Compass Box for the generous samples.