By Emma Briones
Launched alongside another new blend, Compass Box Phenomenology, Compass Box No Name is the peatiest whisky from the independent Scotch blender to date. Both are designed to challenge a drinker’s “thinking about how a whisky is experienced and understood,” by focusing on the sensory experiences that both whiskies bring to the table.
But why launch a whisky with “No Name?” Box decided to let the whisky speak for itself in the spirit of the phenomenology theory.
For these new blends, the British company was inspired by the phenomenological school of thought to consider how different people experience the same phenomenon. This drove them to a new approach to exploring, understanding and enjoying whisky, bringing to life these new blends.
The recipe for Compass Box No Name is primarily malt whisky sourced from a distillery located on Pier Road in Islay. That means that it is mainly composed with Ardbeg malt (75.5% of the blend) that has been aged in re-charred American barrels. It has also a 10.6% of a tempering single malt from Port Askaig (Caol Ila) aged in refill American Barrel. This adds, according to Compass Box, a more elegant and restrained style to the blend. To add dimension, fruit character and an ethereal element, Compass Box has added a small portion (13.4%) of malt whisky from a “much-loved distillery in Brora” (Clynelish), aged in re-charred hogshead barrels. And, finally, a touch (0.5%) of a Highland malt blend that includes Clynelish, Dailuaine and Teaninich. This Highland malt blend has been finished in heavy toast French oak barrels to provide sweetness and richness.
Compass Box No Name is a limited edition of 15,000 bottles. It is non-chill-filtered, has natural color and has been bottled at 48.9% volume (97.8 proof).
Compass Box No Name is a clear straw in the glass with long tears. On the nose there is a blow of bonfire ashes, quickly transporting you to a night in the forest. There are some strong peat notes and a touch of iodine. It also has some hints of wax and tar, but there is something sweet, a touch of late-summer cherries and plums. Finally, a slight note of vanilla.
The blend is mellow and more light on the palate than expected, but full of Islay character. There are some wonderful peat and wood smoke notes. But it is also sweet, full of blackberries, cherries and a soft touch of vanilla. Compass Box No Name also has iodine, tar, medicinal notes. Powerful on its smoky side, it also is slightly spicy.
The finish is light, slowly parting away from the smoky notes and leaving behind just a slight sweet memory.
Compass Box No Name is wonderfully blended. It has all the character you can expect from an Islay whisky and also keeps the sweet Ardbeg notes. It is complex and intriguing. Little by little, it emerges from each of its layers, bringing your nose and palate to new exciting notes.
This is a mandatory dram for anyone that likes peated whiskies. It is more than an Ardbeg, a wonderful sample of the Islay spirit. Don’t doubt it for one second, Compass Box No Name is as Islay as it can get.
Compass Box No Name is available in Europe and the US in limited quantities (15.000 bottles). It is retailed at £100 and $125.