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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

NOT Single Malt Report: Compass Box Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Edition

Yesterday I suggested Compass Box, so here's something from Compass Box.

Last September I called the current edition of the regular Peat Monster "merely great", an upgrade over my previous experiences with it, which were merely decent.  So I was very intrigued when I read the news that they were releasing a limited older bigger version in 2014.  Then I discovered that it was going to be in the $100-$120 range.  Less intrigued.  But when K&L put it on closeout for $75, I found myself unable to resist this guy:

As for its ingredients, Compass Box released this tweet:
All of those parts sound good to me.  And they were.  This bottle went very quickly.

Company: Compass Box
Type: Blended Malt (formerly known as Vatted Malt)
Distilleries, Maturation and Age: See above tweet
Limited Bottling: 5700
Alcohol by Volume: 48.9%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No
(find the official "Fact Sheet" PDF here)

It has a regular ol' uncolored amber tone.  On the nose it starts out with bakery smells, like fresh breads covered in sugar and stuffed with cinnamon swirls; definitely some of my mom's zucchini bread, which goes heavy on the brown sugar.  The peat is very aromatic, as opposed to ashes or smoke.  Lots of toffee, a little vanilla.  Seawater/brine.  A beach bonfire in the distance (I♥Ardmore).  After 20+ minutes it gets smokier and picks up some sharp lime notes.  That aromatic peat continues in the palate.  Some baking spices.  A gentle sweetness.  Sweet dark berries followed by an herbal bitterness followed by tart berries.  That tartness is a little acidic, but not too bad.  After time in the glass, some anise appears.  The sweets and bitters grow, balancing each other out.  In the finish, the peat now reads as moss, smoke, and ashes.  Brine, vanilla beans, and a wormwood-like bitterness.  Tart berries and tart citrus.  It leaves behind that good grimy peaty aftertaste.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The peat gets a little stinkier and aggressive in the nose.  Vanilla frosting.  And to be really vague, it's reminiscent of young Lagavulin, mostly seaweed and rusting boatsides(?!).  The palate gets very peppery and sugary sweet.  Some bitter chocolate in there.  The peat reads as green and mossy.  Sweet and peat in the finish.  A little bit of bitterness lingering.

Very good.  It's right up there with my favorite CBs, Spice Tree and the NY Edition of their Great King Street Blend.

It's a much different creature than the regular version, and I prefer this one's recipe and strength.  The peat is louder and richer, and overall a little sweeter especially with water.  It's a good rainy or snowy evening drink if you actually get that sort of weather by you.  It's missing the sort of complexity that would propel it into 90+ points, but everything else is in line so it sits right on the border grade-wise.  Sadly no one else has since lowered the price on this whisky.  At $100-$120, it's difficult for me to recommend it, but at $75-$80 I felt no buyer's remorse and probably should have bought another bottle.

Availability - Retailers who never dropped their original price
Pricing - $95-$125
Rating - 89 (recommended w/o water)