Review: Compass Box, The Spice Tree

Only 10 more days of blended whisky month and I’m still loving it!

Today I’m not, strictly speaking, reviewing a blended whisky. Compass Box’s The Spice Tree is actually a blended malt. This expression is famous for having been banned (in another incarnation) by the Scotch Whisky Association. The reason? Toasted Oak Staves were placed inside the barrels used to marry the blend in order to add spicy notes. This did not go down well.

Nevertheless John Glazer and the Compass Box team reinvented the Spice Tree, finding alternative “legal” means of getting a similar flavour profile. Here are the dramstats:



  • Price £38
  • ABV 46%
  • Blended Malt

Nose: Orange, ginger, cinnamon, ice cream cones, pepper and a hint of ozone with red dessert apple.

Palate: Vanilla ice cream, black and white pepper, oak, ground ginger and cinnamon, with some hints of raisin. Extremely spicy.

Finish: The spices continue to tingle and grow. Pepper, ginger and oak amongst a background of sweet Mr Whippy Ice cream.

Verdict: It’s excellent. A wonderfully spicy and controlled delivery on the palate. If you like a spice whisky, or you want one to add to your collection, this is a pretty good price!





Review: Compass Box, Great King Street Artists Blend

Thank you to Adrian Barnett (follow him on twitter via @mynamisgone) for sending me this sample. (Don’t worry, we swapped samples)

Compass box make lots of interesting blends. Some are blended malts, like the spice tree and the peat monster. Others are blended grains, like Hedonism . This one is a proper blended whisky (malt and grain), and it’s a bit of a cracker.

Here are the dramstats:



  • Price £26.50
  • ABV 43%
  • 50cl
  • Natural Colour

Nose: Soft vanilla, custard tart and madeira cake. Soft baking spices, nutmeg and mild ground ginger. Cocoa powder then furniture polish and milk chocolate notes from a sherry cask. After 20 minutes, lots of milk chocolate.

Palate:  Fruity initially with pear drops and pineapple cubes. Milk chocolate and vanilla custard.

Finish: White pepper, cinnamon and oak spice. Fruity fade  with strawberry milkshake and milk chocolate coins.

Verdict: I love the milk chocolatey notes and I’m really enthusiastic about this. Compass box make terrific whisky and I am a huge fan of theirs.

What is with the 50cl bottle though? I really hate getting only 50cl when I buy a bottle of whisky. Why is it done? I can only guess that it’s to do with keeping the price down. Maybe someone in marketing could enlighten me if there is a better reason. It’s like they are saying, “we know you’ll only want to pay this much, but it cost us that or more to make 70cl so we’ll just give you less for the money we want to charge”.

Fellow readers, please send some comments my way and let me know how you feel about this. Have you ever ordered a bottle of whisky thinking it was full size and it turned out to be 50cl? I have and I tell you what I DIDN’T think: “Oh, well never mind, I guess I bought it for a pretty good price”. When looking for whisky and selecting a purchase of a 70cl bottle, have you ever thought: “You know, it would be better if they did this in 50cl bottles instead”? I just don’t know what the selling point of 50cl bottles is supposed to be. Regarding this bottle, I had my hands on it in a whisky shop recently thinking it was well priced, got halfway to the checkout, noticed the 50cl and walked out in a huff. Maybe I’m just cantankerous, but this really winds me up. It may well be well priced, and it certainly is lovely. I just can’t decide how I feel about the price when I’m this angry about the bottle size!