As a whiskey lover, I always love companies/brands that emphasize innovation rather than recycling the same recipe for years. Their Compass Box Spice Tree whiskey is the perfect example of what the company describes as their “second coming”.
Spice Tree was originally released in 2005. However, it was banned by the Scotch whiskey Association shortly after, primarily because of staves used in the finishing process.
Its new version is a blended malt scotch whiskey consisting of multiple single malts without any grain spirit. I knew I had to give this re-release a try, and here I will share my experience.
Distillery: Clynelish, Teaninich, Dailuaine
Country: Scotland – Highland
Age: 10-12 Years
Type: Blended Malt
Cask: ASB Casks
Overview of Compass Box Spice Tree
The essence of Compass Box Spice Tree is a combination of 20% Dailuaine (meatiness), 60% Clynelish (fruitiness), and 20% Teaninich (perfume). The whiskeys are first matured in American standard barrels. After that, they are vatted before an extra two years of maturation in what is famously known as highly active hybrid barrels.
It adds some spice notes to the whiskey enriched in French Oak and contributes to the oaky and sweet flavor available in new oak (unlike re-used oak, commonly used in Scotch aging).
Highly Active Hybrid Barrels
After the initial maturation, the scotch is divided into multiple “Highly Active Hybrid Barrels.” In this process, 25 percent of the total blend is stored in a vanilla toast cask. Another 22 percent is kept in an infrared toast cask.
In contrast, 32 percent spends the extra two years of maturation in a mocha toast cask. The remaining 21 percent is aged in first-fill classic American barrels to impart additional fruit notes. As the saying goes, “classics are classics” for a good reason.
In total, the Scotch whiskey is aged for 10 to 12 years, including its time in the highly active hybrid barrels, which gives it a more intense and complex flavor with more depth in every note.
The Compass Box Spice Tree is packaged in the typical simplistic style Compass Box is known for always. It has a tall, slim, and elegant cylindrical design.
The whiskeys are bottled at 46 percent ABV, and it does not have any added coloring, nor does it go through chill-filtration. As a result, the appearance of the whiskey has deep honey and amber tones for an exotic look.
Tasting Notes: Compass Box Spice Tree
Just after opening the bottle, you will get the aromas of lemon balm and candle wax, thanks to the 60 percent Clynelish. The initial smell will be followed by white peach, white mulberries, gentle peachy florals, and light, airy honey.
The whole aromatic pleasure is filled with sweetness and gas, something new in every sniff. In the end, when you pour the whiskey into the glass, you will get a hint of green banana.
The Compass Box Spice Tree has a syrupy and waxy body. You will mainly feel the honeyed sweetness. After that, there are flavors of peach, with some added dessert wine flavors and white sangria. On the palate’s backside, you will get hints of something nutty, most probably hazelnuts, along with a bare touch of oak coming across as dried cinnamon sticks. You can say this is the “spice” of the whiskey as mentioned in the name.
This Scotch has a short finish with dried apricot, fading fruits, and tannic white tea. The finish will leave a rich and spicy taste in your mouth but without any bitterness.
How To Drink: Compass Box Spice Tree
Most whiskey lovers will like to drink it straight (neat) to get the whole experience of the spices of this scotch. Just pour it into your glass and feel the sweet peachy aromas in the beginning. You will feel a slight burning from the alcohol, but the syrupy and waxy body of the whiskey will glide in your throat with smoothness.
On The Rocks/Water
Add some water or ice if you like your whiskey cold and to dilute your scotch. This will reveal a pureed banana aroma in the whiskey. It will reveal some coconut and herby anise notes as well.
Other than these few notes and pureed banana aroma, there’s not much difference in drinking it neat or with water, so it’s not essential if you don’t want to alter it.
What I found surprising is that there were some gingerbread and candied ginger notes once the whiskey settled for some time.
Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza Review
The Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza was a special limited edition launched Compass Box as a celebration of a decade since the first launch of Compass Box Spice Tree.
It is quite similar to the Compass Box Spice Tree with some new flavors to add complexity and depth to the taste. This limited edition also has slightly more elegant packaging compared to the regular version.
Nose: The sherry is most prominent with red fruits, while a hint of vanilla cake with wisps of sandalwood and cloves follows after it. Overall it’s light and malty with flavors of sherry and spice. After resting, there will be a ripe banana aroma.
Palate: It has a syrupy texture with many baking spices (cinnamon, clove, mace, and nutmeg) and fresh hay. Once these flavors pass, it leaves a hint of a cinnamon bun with frosting and ruby port.
Finish: It finishes with medium length and features nutty notes with jam-like hazelnut butter and fig jam. It fades quicker than the Compass Box Spice Tree leaving sweet oak and singed cloves flavors.
The peachy flavors and banana aroma combined with the right spices are the trademark of Compass Box Spice Tree. The sweet aroma (thanks to Clynelish) complements the syrupy and waxy texture incredibly well.
This is undoubtedly the best blended Scotch release by Compass Box. I hope I have given you a clear enough impression of the Compass Box Spice Tree and its limited-edition version, the Compass Box Spice Tree Extravaganza. These are a must-try if you love sweetness combined with various spices in your whiskey.