Thanks to /u/the_muskox [+7] for sharing this sample with me.
I’ve written recently about peat being the proverbial milkshake that brings all the whisky nerds to the yard. Yes, I’m that old to make that quote.
So if you’re a maker of a peated offering, what do you do? You are under the gun to continuously grow the company, less you don’t make more money and therefore aren’t worth your oxygen in our current world. So you find
There’s more to that, but the less I go into nerdy marketing ways, the happier people typically are. So Compass Box decided to experiment. They took Peat Monster blended malt, and dumped it into a refill custom French oak barrel with heavy toast. Once they had that, they then… used it as 10% of a new whisky.
So I’ll be blunt: If I had to guess, this was an experiment that didn’t bear much fruit, due to the low amount of experimental whisky in it. But hey! Maybe that was just one component. If they, for instance, used that as the main element to drive the peated whisky in this blend, then it’d be okay. But they also used 73% Talisker and 7% Ardbeg, which is bringing the peat and a stayover bag.
So that’s what Compass Box The Peat Monster Arcana is. But if the name was Compass Box No Name, then maybe I’d be fine with it. It’s a blend of Ardbeg, Talisker, Caol Ila, and Miltonduff. That’s pretty interesting. So let’s ignore the small part that was “experimented” with and see how this tastes, shall we?
Components: 72.9% Talisker in a Refill Hogshead, 10.6% Miltonduff in a First Fill Bourbon Barrel, 9.6% Peat Monster blended malt (cask strength) in a Refill Custom French Oak Barrel – Heavy Toast, and 6.9% Ardbeg in a Recharred Barrel.
And to remind you what’s in Peat Monster typically: 46.2% Caol Ila in a Refill Hogshead, 35% laphroaig in a Refill Hogshead, 14.5% Caol Ila in a Refill Hogshead, 3% Caol Ila in a Refill Hogshead, 1% Caol Ila in a Refill Hogshead, and 1% Highland Malt Blend in a Custom French Oak Cask – heavy toast, which is a blend of Clynelish, Teaninich, and Daluaine.
Bottled: August 26, 2020
Number of bottles: 8328
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Brine, fennel, butter, smoke, lemon
So you have your traditional peated/Islay whisky notes: Smoke, anise/fennel, and brine. I enjoy it, you enjoy it, we’re all happy.
On the periphery though you get a lot of the Caol Ila in the form of Lemon, which is a surprise. It’s closer to what I would imagine would happen if Talisker and Caol Ila did a collaboration. Also the buttery note adds a good amount of body/other notes to the nose.
Taste: Anise, butter, apple, salty chips, Irish cream
Again, if we take a second, this shouldn’t totally come as a surprise: You have anise and salt, two main elements found in Talisker. There’s a chunk of Ardbeg, so more anise than the nose.
Again the interesting side to this is the elements that come with the peat. You can get peat by itself in a variety of products: What else is going on? Here it’s an interesting mix of cream, apple, and butter. I’d hazard to guess perhaps this was the result from the experimental Peat Monster portion? Maybe. Or maybe it’s the Miltonduff elements.
Finish: Black licorice, cocoa, salt, butter, caramel
Peat elements: Smoke/peat goes to licorice, cocoa, and salt (because it’s from Islay). The fatty, buttery elements have gotten a tad simpler, and some may find the finish very rich.
Conclusion: A slight upgrade to the standard. Let’s get the main thing out of the way: This isn’t a vast change beyond the standard Peat Monster release. It’s a slight change. Perhaps a slightly more interesting version. But a special edition? Worth more than the standard? No.
This is another good layered peated blended whisky, like The Peat Monster. Full stop. Pick it up if you want a slight change. Otherwise the regular edition is almost as good.
Scotch review #1558, Blend review #131, Whisky Network review #2279