Whisky Review – Compass Box Orangerie

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I have to let Compass Box provide a description of Orangerie because I am not sure I could do it justice! From their marketing material:

“Orangerie is made from smooth, sweet Scotch whisky infused with the hand-zested peel of Navalino oranges and subtle accents of Indonesia cassia bark and Sri Lankan cloves.”

Wow! How could I top that?

Orangerie is not “officially” a Scotch whisky because Scotch whisky can only have three ingredients – malted barley, water, and yeast. As noted in the description, there is a Scotch whisky base, but the addition of the “flavorings” restricts this from being identified as a Scotch whisky. Most commonly, this liquid would be categorized with liqueurs, although perhaps now it would now fit best into the growing “flavored whisky” market segment.

Orangerie has been around for a while. First released back in 2009 (I believe that is correct, if not, please let me know), I suppose you could consider this a precursor to the growing trend of “flavored” whiskies that have started to show up in the liquor stores. Flavored whiskies are sprouting up all over the place as the Big Boys join the competition for new whisky drinkers with a multitude of new releases like Jack Daniels’ Tennessee Honey, Jim Beam Kentucky Fire, Knob Creek Maple, and  Fireball, among many. The flavored whisky segment has grown exponentially over the last couple of years. In fact, Fireball, the cinnamon-infused, whisky-based liqueur produced by Sazerac, has been one of the fastest selling whiskies in the US.

 

Orangerie, Infused Scotch Whisky

Color: Amber-gold.

Nose: (Neat): Well, it certainly lives up to its name. The glass is full of oranges – a broad and bold mix of fresh-peeled Clementine oranges, orange peel, orange rind, orange blossom, and orange juice….well, what else should I have expected given the name? Unfortunately, there is an aroma of something that seems a tad….off-kilter, to me. Wait! I have it! I knew I recognized the smell…..it’s ‘Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy – Orange Ginger’ lotion that I used to find in certain hotels. Don’t get me wrong, the Aromatherapy lotion is a nice lotion – but it is not a scent I really want to nose from a glass for very long. There is a perfumy-orangey-gingery-lotioney combination that just doesn’t stand up to lengthy enjoyment. So…oranges. Beyond that it is very difficult to pick up any aromas  – maybe, just maybe, the very slightest hint of cloves, but I may be picking that up subconsciously given that you can’t escape reading the label, unless this was served in a  blind poor. I will admit that, in the glass, it does share a similarity with Gran Marnier or Cointreau, but it just lacks a bit of the richness, a bit of the finesse, a bit of the elegance of scent that I get with Gran Marnier.  (With Water): Nope. The water just enhances the perfumey lotion note. Orange zest, perhaps a tad more readily identifiable spice note, but not enough to help.

Palate: (Neat): At least on the palate I can tell that there is whisky here. The orange flavors remain dominant – sharp, juicy, and full. But there is a definite touch of whisky in a softly spiced, vanilla, malty way. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily a positive. On the palate, this ‘whisky’ suffers from an identity crisis and, sadly, I don’t find that the flavors sit well with each other. (With Water): Again, or still, a very sweet arrival. The oranges, a bit of woodiness, not much else.

Finish: sweet orange, a bit of sweet malt, and thankfully rather short.

Overall: Frankly, I didn’t really know what to expect from this one when I picked it up. Certainly, I had a general idea of what it “should” be like based on the description, but that was as much as I knew when I opened the bottle. Now I am a fan of Gran Marnier, so I thought I might enjoy the Orangerie……unfortunately, after tasting it, not so much. The orange notes overwhelm the nose and then sit at odds with the whisky on the palate. To me, this really suffers from an identity crisis; it isn’t really a liqueur, nor is it really a whisky and add in the overdone lotioney-perfumey aspect and this is just a miss for me. Other people may like this, but if I want an orange liqueur, I will stick with Gran Marnier.

Compass Box suggests that this would work well in a cocktail…..that might be the best use for it, where it adds a complementary flavor to something else.

 

Rating: 75

 

Details:

Distillery(ies): Highland Single Malt (likely Clynelish) and Grain from Fife (Cameronbridge)

Type: Infused Scotch whisky

Age: Not Stated

ABV: 40%

Maturation: Not Stated

Price: $48 (Specs)

Availability: Generally available

Sample Source: My own bottle

 

2 comments

  1. Don’t worry, I will save you a taste! Maybe Diane will like it!

    • Mike D on March 4, 2015 at 5:16 pm
    • Reply

    What a description. Can anyone really distinguish between Sri Lanka cloves and those from Indonesia, Pakistan or India, let alone Tanzania, Zanzibar or Madagascar???
    And why Indonesian Cassia Bark, why not just call it cinnamon?
    All that for a “Scotch” to use as a mixer….not my cup of tea.

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