Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review - Enlightenment by Compass Box

The Enlightenment is a new limited edition blended malt created by leading artisan whisky company Compass Box.  It is designed to be a celebration of their ongoing Scotch Whisky Transparency Campaign, which currently has over 7,000 people signed up to it.  The Enlightenment was conceived by John Glaser, the founder of Compass Box, and is a blend of Highland and Speyside single malts.  These include Balblair, Clynelish, Glentauchers and Mortlach distilleries.  There are just 5,922 bottles and they will be available from today (May 25) in Europe and then early June in the USA.

Compass Box was founded in 2000 and they have premises in both London and Edinburgh.  They also have an imaginative ethos to buy whisky from a small number of distilleries and craft them together into a unique product. All products are produced and released in small batches and given catchy names. By doing their own blending, Compass Box have less restrictions than traditional independent bottlers and are widely regarded as one of the most innovative whisky makers in the industry.  They have won numerous awards for both their whiskies and creative packaging and label designs.

"This is inspired by the writers, philosophers and scientists of the Age of Enlightenment and sets out to encourage the industry to consider the absurdity of a system that prevents producers from telling consumers exactly what has gone in to the whisky they are drinking".
John Glaser - Founder of Compass Box Whisky Co.

Enlightenment has been bottled at 46% ABV, is non chill-filtered and of natural colour.  The price is £60, US$85 or €79 per bottle and will be supplied through selected specialist whisky retailers and via, where further information about the bottling is also available.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a pale golden yellow and the nose has a lovely mix of fresh green fruit and sweet fudge and toffee aromas.  Think of crisp green apples and pear drop sweets for the fruitiness.  Underneath is a distinct malted barley aromas, some vanilla and background cinnamon, ginger and a faint damp earthy note.

On the palate this whisky feels vibrant and fresh with the green fruity characteristics and the toffee/fudge notes again to the forefront.  This becomes more butterscotch-like with time and made us think of toffee apples when combined.  The pear drops are also evident but less so than on the nose.  There are hints of sultanas and ginger that add depth, along with an increasing note of malted barley.  This begins sweetly but turns more grainy and bittersweet as the palate develops.  Underneath are further hints of candied bitter oranges, cinnamon, liquorice and the merest detection of damp earthy peat smoke - this rounds everything off nicely.

The finish is relatively short and again driven by the fruity and sweet elements.  The green apples and pears fade first, then the sugary toffee.  This leaves the more spicy and bittersweet notes - the cinnamon, malty cereals etc - to combine well and dry the mouth slightly.

What's the verdict?
The Enlightenment is a light and vibrant whisky that has a lovely freshness and sweetness to it. The delicious green fruits and toffee notes on the nose translate well to the palate, which is mouthwatering and enjoyable.  It is a very moreish whisky and one that is easy drinking.  Enlightenment should keep everyone happy, both the staunch Compass Box fans and recent converts alike.  Well worth searching out and available at a reasonable price too.

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