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Friday, May 24, 2013

NOT Single Malt Report: Compass Box Eleuthera

Finally, a throwback Compass Boxer: Eleuthera (the feminine form of the Greek word for "free", thank you Wikipedia).

One of the first of their wide releases (2002-2005), the Eleuthera is vatting of 15 year old Clynelish and 12 year old Caol Ila, both matured in recharred hogsheads.  When their supply of the 15 year Clynelish ran out, Compass Box ended production of Eleuthera. (On a side note, there appears to have been an early version that also included some older Glenlossie.)

Unlike Oak Cross and Spice Tree, this one has some peat in it, thanks to the Caol Ila.  Glaser matched that Islay-er with what appears to be his favorite blending malt, Clynelish (also in Oak Cross, Spice Tree, both Great King Streets, Flaming Heart, and Double Single)  My favorite part of the Eleuthera is, unlike Oak Cross and Spice Tree, it focuses much less on oak creativity and more on the merging of two elements into one.  I'm not necessarily saying it is better than those two, but the focus on the malt is much appreciated!

Company: Compass Box
Type: Blended Malt (formerly known as Vatted Malt)
Distilleries: Clynelish and Caol Ila
Age: 15 years (Clynelish) and 12 years (Caol Ila)
Maturation: recharred ex-bourbon barrels
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No

Color -- Light amber (courtesy of the refill casks)
Nose -- A nice hit of Limes and freshly cut grass, along with some vanilla cake, and almost fruity peat in the background.
Palate -- There's the soft peat TCP as expected, but there's also a strong belt of cilantro and BBQ sauce. Seaweed, honey, and mint make cameos along the way.
Finish -- More of that cilantro and BBQ combo, then cinnamon, and honeyed peat.

Nose -- Peat comes to the foreground, along with a strong gin-reminiscent herbal note.  A little more ocean rolls up as well. The aforementioned limes linger in the back with some Red "fruit drink" (cousin of Purple).
Palate -- Much simpler now.  Veggie peat rolled up in, honey, malt, and cinnamon.
Finish -- Gets sweeter.  Combines the nose and palate resulting in peat, herbs, and cinnamon.

I had twice the amount of Eleuthera to survey (thank you, Florin!), compared to Oak Cross and Spice Tree.  So I lined the first 30mL with the ST and OC in a Taste Off, then enjoyed the second 30mL casually the next day.  As I'd mentioned above, I like how solid and well-merged the Eleuthera was.  I would have thought this was a single malt if I hadn't been told otherwise.

Though Eleuthera isn't in the current Compass Box rotation, it isn't completely gone.  There are at least a dozen online US stores that claim to have it in stock, and most haven't raised the price.  At the same time, it does take some doing to hunt down.  But if you like Caol Ila, Eleuthera will please.

Availability - Getting scarce
Pricing - $50-$70
Rating - 84