Compass Box – Spice Tree “The Second Coming”

Blended Malt whiskies from the Highlands – 46%ABV – $58 | £35 | €41

There a great story behind the Compass Box Spice Tree and why there needed to be a “Second Coming” of the blend.  You see, this whisky was, at one time, deemed illegal by the SWA due to some interesting and innovative casking practices for this whisky.

To release this new version, Compass Box had to make some tweaks to how the whisky was extra-matured.  Compass Box being Compass Box, the tweaks were made but quality was not adversely effected.  Compass Box explains their new, updated (and now legal) maturing process:

“Over the past three years we have developed a new maturation process which yields similar if not superior results to our previous method, and this new process is something the SWA can’t take any issue with.

As in the past, The Spice Tree is 100% malt whisky sourced from northern Highland distilleries, (notably and primarily malt whisky distilled at the Clynelish distillery). The primary maturation is in a mix of first-fill and refill American oak.

What is different is the secondary maturation. Rather than using inner stave inserts, as we did for the original Spice Tree, we rack the whisky into barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads. We have created a method for getting a super heavy toast on the cask heads which imparts a flavour profile similar to the flat staves used for the original Spice Tree. We use oak with three different levels of toasting on the barrel heads, thus allowing us to blend the resultant whiskies to create additional layers of complexity. This secondary maturation lasts as long as two years.”

Sounds interesting, right??

On the noseInner tire tubes lead to orange zest and cloves.

Biscuits and blackberry bramble.

Some quick hints of dry sherry then an interesting blend of ginger beer and cream soda ride up my nose using the aforementioned inner tire tube.

Hint of soft yet dry red wine.

On the mouth Big, waxy, chewy and insanely appetizing.

There’s a reason this is called the spice tree; you name it – ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg are all joining schwartzes here.

It’s as if those spices are being mixed in a cup of orange vanilla cream.

Cherry tarts.

As we get closer to the finish, there’s an oakiness that comes through.

Finish Long and oaken with ever lasting hints of vanilla and cherry.

In sum A lovely after dinner sipper that’s got a decent nose but shines like a diamond in the tasting of it.  An instant favorite for me but I could see this being almost too spiced and sweet for some people.  This is as ‘in-your-face’ as a bourbon yet NOTHING like a bourbon (it is Scotch malt whisky after all).  For bourbon drinkers, this could be a gateway whisky for you into the wide world of Scotch malt whisky.

While I found the Compass Box Hedonism to be my favorite blended whisky of 2010, I think I would have had made a different choice if I reviewed this one last year.

Special thanks goes out to Robin R for the sample!

There are a lot of good reviews out there for this whisky but I thought I’d bring your attention to this one from the Malt Impostor(s) – I love their reviews <jedi mind trick> and so do you </jedi mind trick>

4 thoughts on “Compass Box – Spice Tree “The Second Coming””

  1. Very descriptive post Josh.
    I have a bottle as well, aqquired at Whisky Love London. A top of the line pure malt (Yes, that term is out of fashion) at a very reasonable GBP35. Great value.

  2. Indeed, the lads are right. this is a great whisky.
    J.Glaser is doing an amazing job. how come i dont own a bottle of this, is a mystery 🙂
    lovely write up josh, nice to see you back from Florida!

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