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Compass Box The Spice Tree Inaugural Release Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (700ml)
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- ABV 46%
Despite the success of the first two bottlings of “The Spice Tree”, the Scotch Whisky Association (known as the SWA in the Scotch whisky trade) has asked Compass Box to discontinue production of this product. The issue revolves around the SWA’s interpretation of the law regarding traditional practice in the production of spirits in European Union countries. The SWA does not like the companies technique of using barrel inserts (made of the highest quality cooperage oak available) in the casks used to do a secondary maturation on the whiskies for “The Spice Tree”.
So what is the “The Spice Tree” and how did it come about? A few years ago, Compass Box founder and master blender, John Glaser travelled to the Vosges forest to visit a mill that makes oak for cooperage. He was in search of the highest quality cooperage oak in the world, as he planned to begin buying casks to fill new spirit. Working with friends like the famous Dr. Jim Swan, John borrowed a technique commonly used by winemakers and began experimenting with secondary maturation of whisky in casks with new oak barrel inserts inside them. He was effectively using a quality of oak that is never used in Scotch whisky. The results were extraordinary! Why, he began wondering, are the winemakers getting all the good wood? Why don’t we use this kind of oak to mature Scotch whisky? And this is where “The Spice Tree” came from. The inaugural batch of just over 4,000 bottles was sold out in five weeks and the second batch, released in April 2006 was entirely pre-sold to importers before bottling!
However, the SWA did not like it. As Glaser explained; “I tried to explain to them that we had studied the law and believed that what we were doing was well within it, not to mention a positive quality step forward for the industry. “Quality,” I was told by the SWA, “is completely irrelevant.” They had their interpretation of the law, which held that what we were doing was not “traditional”, so that was the end of the story, as far as they were concerned. Not much we could do at that point, with a gun, (figuratively speaking) pointed at our head.“
An extremely limited amount of this rare whisky has just arrived in Australia. The Spice Tree is a Vatted Malt (a blend of single malts from different distilleries) including Dailuaine, Teaninich and two other malt whiskies distilled in the villages of Brora and Longmorn. Wood used was 100% first-fill Bourbon barrels and first-fill, recharred American oak hogsheads for the primary maturation. A portion of the whisky went through a secondary maturation on new (virgin) French Sessile oak, heavily toasted. The inaugural batch (labelled as such on the front and back labels) had one toast level. The second batch, released April 2006, had several different toast levels for a slightly more subtle yet complex flavour profile, but definitely similar to the inaugural batch.
Tasting Notes: A natural, deep, gold-brown colour and a rich nose with spices such as clove and nutmeg, and sweet stewed fruits. Palate is soft, sweet, deep and rich with a malt whisky fruitiness embellished by rich spice. Very long. Not chill filtered, natural colour. Only 4150 bottles produced. 46% Alc./Vol.
- tasting note sourced from Compass Box.size>