An award winning whisky maker
Compass Box is a boutique independent whisky producer that was founded in 2000 by John Glaser and is based in west London and Edinburgh. Their ethos is to buy whisky from a small number of distilleries and then craft them together into their own unique whiskies. The range includes single grain whiskies such as this Hedonism, vatted malts, blended whiskies and other occasional releases. All are produced and released in small batches, often using only two single malts to create a unique product with a catchy name. By doing their own blending and vatting, Compass Box have less restrictions than other traditional independent bottlers and as a result, is a former winner of the prestigious Whisky Magazine's Innovator of the Year.
For further information on Compass Box and other independent bottling companies, then visit their page on our website whiskyforeveryone.com.
What is in Hedonism?
Hedonism is produced in small batches and this current batch (labeled H29MMIX) was launched in September 2009. It is made using 100% grain whisky, therefore no single malt whisky is present in the vatting. Bottlings of grain whiskies are rare these days, as most grain whisky is used to produce blended whiskies. Previous batches of Hedonism have won the 'Best Grain Whisky' category at the prestigious World Whisky Awards in 2008 and 2009. This H29MMIX batch is made up of whiskies from the grain distilleries at Cambus, Cameron Bridge and Carsebridge, with the youngest whisky being 14 years of age and the oldest being 29. Cambus and Carsebridge are both closed distilleries, having been taken out of service in 1993 and 1983 respectively, and Cameron Bridge produces a massive 30 million litres of spirit per year and is the home of Gordon's gin. All are matured in ex-bourbon casks and the final mix of Hedonism is bottled at 43% ABV.
Our tasting notes
The colour of this whisky is light and golden, almost straw-like. The nose is fragrant and has a lovely fresh feeling to it. There are plenty of sweet vanilla and cereal grain aromas (think of the grain husks or oatmeal) and these are joined by other notes - oak, coconut and honey. On the palate, this feels creamy and warm and is dripping with sweet honey (imagine honeycomb) and vanilla pods. These characteristics combine very well with some gristy cereal grains, nuts (think of almonds and coconuts), toffee, warm spices (especially reminiscent of ginger and nutmeg) and a hint of dried grass (imagine hay or straw). The combination of these creates a very good balance, flavour profile and feeling in the mouth. The finish switches things around - it begins with more sweetness (honey, vanilla, sweet cereals) before turning drier and slightly bitter (think of oak, grain husks and nutmeg). This bittersweet quality of the finish counteracts the sweetness found on the nose and palate perfectly.
What's the verdict?
There are only 4410 bottles will be available in this latest batch of Hedonism and they can be found for around £50 a bottle at specialist alcohol retailers or through Compass Box's own website. This is a lovely example of a quality grain whisky and if you have never tried one before, then it is worth tracking down and trying. Some may say that it is a bit on the pricey side but you have to consider the age of the whiskies included (14-29 years old). Would a blended whisky with single malts of these ages cost the same? Yes ... and a bit more probably. Hedonism offers a simple yet very enjoyable, fresh and cleansing dram that would be perfect as an aperitif or on a warm day.