Compass Box was founded in 2000 by John Glaser 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 creative names. They have won numerous awards for both their whiskies and creative packaging and label designs.
The three year old component included within the final whisky has been fully aged by Compass Box themselves in first fill American oak casks. This new make spirit came from a north Highland distillery and has been blended with older whisky from the same distillery (this forms 90% of the blended malt) and peated malt of an unspecified age from an island distillery (9.6%).
"3 Year Old Deluxe is a celebration of the role that whiskies of all ages can play in a well-constructed blend. We like to say that it is ... precociously mature. "
John Glaser - Founder of Compass Box.
The 3 Year Old Deluxe is bottled at 49.2% ABV and is non chill-filtered and of natural colour. There are only 3,282 bottles and these will be priced at £200 ($300 US) each. They are available in Europe and the USA through specialist whisky retailers.
Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is fresh, fruity and sweet. The dominant aromas include green apple, golden syrup and malty cereals. These are backed up by earthy peat smoke. There are also hints of dried pineapple and mango, ginger powder, cocoa, cinnamon and waxy furniture polish.
On the palate this whisky is soft and has a slightly oily and mouth coating quality, despite the relatively high alcohol strength. There are immediate notes of vanilla, golden syrup and honey, which are supported by lovely baked orchard fruits (think of apple and pear) and the dried tropical elements from the nose (especially the pineapple). In the background are further notes of bittersweet malted cereals and earthy peppery peat smoke, both of which add warmth and complexity. Final hints of gingerbread, cookie dough, menthol, cinnamon and milk chocolate give yet more depth.
The finish is long with the warming spices and earthy peat smoke lingering for ages. The fruity and sweet notes slowly fade to bring these to the fore. The tropical note in particular feels more juicy and fresh than on the nose or palate.
What's the verdict?
The 3 Year Old Deluxe is an enjoyable and lovely whisky. The other components are clearly significantly older than the three year old component, but that is the point. It is a statement by Compass Box about the current rules by which companies have to declare the youngest whisky included in a final product, no matter how miniscule the amount used. Whatever the statement, the result is delicious.