By Richard Thomas
Billed as inspired by René Magritte’s 1929 surrealist painting “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” this latest release from Compass Box comes across to me as something out Fashion TV. I can easily see it looking at the bottle: a black and white TV spot with models breezing into a glamorous party, pouring drinks from a bottle of This Is Not A Luxury Whisky, and then a voice blaring something about the latest scent from Carolina Herrera.
So, even if Compass Box says the packaging and title are about putting the spotlight on the liquid, it’s all too stylish for that. What is in the bottle, however, is of note. This is an unusual high-proof bottling from Compass Box, weighing in at 53.1% abv. Reportedly it draws on 19 year old Glen Ord malt, 40 year old Girvan and Strathclyde grain whiskies, and a portion of 30 year old Caol Ila malt, and the run is limited to 4,992 bottles.
The color in the glass is darkened gold, like gold with a coat of maple syrup slapped on top. Taking the nose, syrupy and thick, with currents of boozy Christmas cake and dry tobacco leaf, with a note of musty wood.
That Christmas cake aspect predominates on the palate, emphasizing the syrupy character. Maraschino cherries and citrus zest with cake spice and coconut, plus a trace of woody astringency. The syrup-and-cake nature is so strong, in fact, that to me it leans into cough syrup territory. That is to say, it’s sweet, boozy and bold.
From there, the finish is nice, leaving a warm glow and a fruitcake aftertaste.
Although this item was not for sale yet when the review was written, it was listed for pre-order at £145 ($225).