By Richard Thomas
Flaming Heart is a key limited edition series from those innovative whiskey-makers at Compass Box. Every few years, Compass Box comes into sufficient malt scotch with the appropriate characteristics to make this stuff, and August 2012 saw the 4th bottling in The Flaming Heart Series. Past installments of Flaming Heart brought together Highland malt whiskey aged in new French oak with strongly peated Islay malt whiskey aged in ex-bourbon barrels, but this time Compass Box chose to add a third dimension by including a little scotch aged in old sherry casks.
The resulting vatted malt was bottled at 48.9% abv, an oddly specific number and a little on the strong side for scotch. As is usual for Compass Box products, the whiskey was not chill-filtered and has all-natural colors, and the production run for the 2012 Flaming Heart was limited to 9,147 bottles.
Flaming Heart has a pale yellow straw coloring in the glass. The nose has a rich, oily texture, mixing equal parts of dried fruit, ashy peat, and toffee, with a little sea spray for crispness.
The palate is where all of the blend’s constituent parts come out into the open. The whiskey’s oaky character (coming from the new French oak-aged Highland, no doubt) makes its first appearance, enhancing the spicy kick with a dry astringent twist. That dry twist likely comes from the sherry casks. That dried red fruits sweetness is still there, as is the peaty ash. The finish rolls off of the spicy note, moving into slightly warm and woody territory.
This 4th edition of Flaming Heart is a mid-bodied whiskey, endowed by its clever blending with both a sophisticated character and flavor notes that are clear without being bold. It’s tasty, interesting sipping scotch, from the first to the last drop.
Flaming Heart is listed on the Compass Box website at £83, and I’ve seen it listed with online retailers in Europe at €85, shipping not included. Americans should therefore expect to pay at least $115.