By Richard Thomas
Updated November 22, 2014
A decade ago, John Glaser created an intensely peaty vatted malt for the Park Avenue Liquor Shop, dubbed simply the Monster. The idea evolved into the hugely popular Peat Monster, Compass Box’s best selling expression.
Success like that demands a follow-up, especially when the world is packed with diehard peat fans on the prowl for a new, smoky twist. That is where the Peat Monster 10th Anniversary limited edition comes in. Bottled in September 2013, this vatted malt follows in the supremely peaty style of the classic Peat Monster, but according to the billing the whiskey has a particularly peaty twist vis-a-vis the standard Peat Monster.
This 10th Anniversary Peat Monster’s mix comes from the south shore of Islay and Port Askaig, plus a little Brora and Highland for good measure. Most of that was matured in first-fill and refill American oak, but a sliver was finished in French new oak. Fans of Compass Box’s Spice Tree or Maker’s Mark 46 should know what the touch of new French oak does for a whiskey. The expression stands at 48.9% abv, and in keeping with the Compass Box style it’s not chill-filtered.
One thing is for sure: with a production run of just 5,700 bottles and hordes of thirsty peat-lovers out there, this limited edition won’t last long.
This spin on The Peat Monster is almost clear, so pale is the straw-yellow coloring. “Bleached out” is an apt description, I think, because even compared to lightly colored scotches, the Peat Monster 10th is a see-thru fellow. Don’t let that throw you, because as any good scotch fan already knows, light looks imply nothing about flavor.
Where the appearance is insubstantial, the nose most definitely is not. It’s big, with a bold peat presence hand-in-glove with the scent of a heavily spiced apple pie, thick with cinnamon and ginger. Add in a dash of sea spray, and you’ve got something most Islay fans dream about.
The flavor is crisp, clear, and sophisticated. Peaty with a whiff of smoke, the apple sweetness is enhanced by malty and vanilla notes. The finish kicks with cinnamon and ginger, and winds down on a lingering, warm and spicy note.
Hands down, this is a must-have for fans of The Peat Monster.
The Peat Monster Limited Edition is listed on the Compass Box webstore for £83.00 (approximately $135), but I have seen it listed more cheaply with other vendors, so shop around.
Jim Murray named this the Vatted Malt of the Year in the 2015 Whisky Bible.