Tasting: Compass Box Spice Tree NAS

Compass Box Spice TreeDram data:
Distillery: –
Bottler: Compass Box
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2014 (ongoing batches)
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: French/American oak
Alcohol: 46%
not chill filtered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Spice tree – I’m sure quite a few of you will already be familiar with this whisky – but here’s a short summary for those who aren’t: John Glaser of Compass Box once created a whisky by this name. This original version used “inner staves” in the maturation/finishing casks – basically adding additional staves of oak into the casks to impart their character. This practice was ultimately deemed illegal – and the whisky was discontinued. The version that’s now on the market (since 2009) claims to achieve the same result – but adhering to the rule set for Scotch Whisky. Never having tasted the “illegal” product I’ll take a look at the current offering:

Tasting notes:
Yes, there’s spice on the nose! Who’da thunk! Like sticking your nose into grandma’s spice cupboard! We’ve got allspice, clove, cinnamon and a pinch of ground ginger sprinkled over a soft and sweet base of honey, Italian sweet almond cookies and shortbread. The French oak is strong in this one – but not overpowering and working well with the complex, tightly woven vatted, err, blended malt base. Let’s check the palate! 

Creamy on the arrival, with vanilla and honey sweetness. It takes a while for the spices to kick in, but when they finally appear, they do so with a bang! The ginger dominates initially before allspice and cloves appear in the background, accompanied by noticeable oak tannins. The complex layer of malt stays in the background – it’s the spices and the sweetness that sing the loudest. The finish is, surprise, quite spicy upon swallowing – ginger dominates once again, before oak tannins and honey sweetness on top of an Italian sweet almond cookie kick in.

Well, the label doesn’t lie! This whisky has a lot of spice and the tree’s tannins are also noticeable. This blended malt lives from the oak influence – the French oak providing spices, the American oak providing the sweetness. It is, however, not taken over by the casks, the malts in the background provide a good, complex base. What also makes this whisky appealing is the price of about 50€ – if you like you oak influence then this is a great daily dram for your buck! Plus, Compass Box’s transparency campaign allows you to find out about the malt components making up this whisky – as much as legally possible. Huge bonus for that!

Have you tried this whisky? Let me know in the comments section what you think of it!

Score: 86/100
(Nose: 87 Palate: 85 Finish: 86)

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