Let’s continue our Compass Box reviews from the tasting in October at Trinity Hall. In the second of this series I am going to bypass the actual second and third whiskies we tasted, the Oak Cross and The Lost Blend because I reviewed them both previously this past March I and don’t think I need to return to them so soon. Suffice it to say that I like the Oak Cross (rated 82) a blended malt that uses both traditional American oak ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for the initial maturation, but adds a twist in the use of casks made from American oak ex-bourbon barrels that are fitted with new French oak heads for marrying. And I rated The Lost Blend very highly (88). For me, The Lost Blend ticked all the right boxes. If you’ve not tried either of these, you should, but if you can only have one, go with The Lost Blend!
Anyway, getting back on track, as I mentioned in the first post in this series, the review of the Great King St. Glasgow Blend, Compass Box recently released several new whiskies – to good reviews – that I was very curious about. Naturally, I hoped Marius would have one of these on the menu, and Marius didn’t disappoint – in fact he went above and beyond, as you will see, so stay tuned!!! The fourth whisky we sampled was one of those recent releases, Enlightenment! (sorry for the poor photo quality!)
As usual, Compass Box has been forthcoming with information about this whisky, although you may notice that there is a lack of disclosure about the ages of the component whiskies, which Compass Box has provided for other releases. Sadly, the dreaded SWA (Scotch Whisky Association), in their inimitable wisdom, has decided that such disclosures do not comply with EU laws.
The result of this decision for Compass Box is two-fold: first, they ceased publishing the ages on either the box or in their materials – although they will provide this information if you contact them, but they don’t want anyone else to publish it, either. Second, they released a blended scotch whisky that they branded, Three Year Old Deluxe. In producing this whisky, Compass Box is effectively thumbing their noses at the SWA by producing a bottling of aged whiskies that were “teaspooned” with a three year-old whisky – teaspooning is the act of adding a very small portion of another whisky (most commonly used when a distillery sells casks to another distillery. The primary distillery adds a small amount of whisky from another distillery, meaning that the whisky is no longer a single malt), The moment that Compass Box teaspooned the Three Year Old Deluxe with the young whisky, they were required to declare this as a three year-old whisky if they wished to include any age statement, despite the fact that the other, primary, components were significantly older. I’m not sure who won the battle, but it does show to what lengths Compass Box will go to push for an ability to be more visible….and it is kind of fun to watch to see how it will all turn our!
But that’s enough nerdy details, on to the whisky!
Review: Enlightenment, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Enlightenment is blended malt scotch whisky, An official bottling composed of several Highland malt whiskies, Enlightenment was first released in April 2016. This is a limited release of 5,922 bottles worldwide and it was bottled at 46% abv and was bottled with natural color and no chill filtering.
In the attached graphic, Compass Box tells us that Enlightenment is a blended malt made up of 48.2% bright, waxy, apple-y Clynelish (first fill American oak barrel), 36.7% fruity, herbal Glentauchers (first fill American oak barrel), 10.8% perfumed, bright Balblair (first fill American oak barrel) and 4.3% muscular weighty Mortlach (rejuvenated American oak barrel).
Color: Light amber
Nose: Big and fruity with an accompanying spiciness. A mix of stone fruits, dried fruits and both herbal and wood spices. There is some vanilla, but it plays a supporting role to the fruits. With water I get a hint of lime juice and orange zest.
Taste: Sweet and fruity, just as the nose promised. Red fruits, pears, soft touches of dried peach and apricot, along with delicate citrus notes of the lime and orange zest, and a dusting of both baking and herbal spices. A hint of red liquorice shows up in the mid-palate along with a rising sweet vanilla. Interestingly, or oddly, depending on your point of view, I found a hint of “beer” late. Despite the fruit-focus,which might make one think that this is overly delicate, there is a density to the palate that serves to link the flavors as they come and go.
Finish: Retains all its signature notes – the dominant fruitiness with subtle spices, and a sweet vanilla. Not the longest of finishes, but it is a vivid, lively finish.
Overall: Enlightenment is quite simply, A Big Fruit Bomb! This is a sweet, dense, desert-y whisky full of nicely complex flavors that rise and fall throughout the experience. Very good and very enjoyable!
Distillery: Clynelish, Glentauchers, Balblair, Mortlach.
Whisky Maker: Compass Box
Type: Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: Not Disclosed
ABV: 46% abv
Maturation: A combination of first fill American oak and rejuvenated American oak barrels.
Price: $60 (approximately), or secondary market pricing.
Availability: This may, perhaps, still be on the shelves somewhere, but it is likely sold out in more retail places.
Sample Source: Trinity Hall tasting