Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review - Hedonism Quindecimus

The multi award-winning blending company of Compass Box are kicking off their 15th anniversary celebrations with this special limited edition whisky that reinvents an old favourite. The Hedonism Quindecimus recreates the original Hedonism that was Compass Box's first whisky to market back in 2000. The Quindecimus expression blends together single grain whiskies of varying ages (said to be between 20-32 years old) from five different distilleries and has been created by Compass Box founder John Glaser. All have been matured in American oak casks.

As mentioned, Compass Box was founded in 2000 by John Glaser.  They have premises in both London and Edinburgh and 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, often using only two or three whiskies, and all are given a catchy name. By doing their own blending and vatting, Compass Box have less restrictions than traditional independent bottlers and they are a widely regarded as one of the most innovative whisky makers in the industry.

The Hedonism Quindecimus is bottled at 46% ABV, is non chill-filtered and of natural colour.  There are just 5,689 bottles and they will be available in selected markets now or via The recommended price is £128/ €160 per bottle.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a rich golden yellow and the nose has a fantastic aroma.  There are immediate notes of honey, vanilla and wood spices (especially oak, coconut husks and cinnamon) and plenty of over ripe tropical fruit (think of pineapples and mango).  Hints of cream soda, clove and ginger add further complexity.

On the palate this whisky instantly grips the taste buds with plenty of early bittersweet cereal notes hitting first.  Then a battle between sweet and spicy notes evolves as the whisky becomes softer and creamier in the mouth.  The sweetness is driven by distinct notes of golden syrup and butterscotch, plus the over ripe tropical fruits from the nose (especially the mango, and a hint of peach).  These are balanced by plenty of oak, which is backed up by earthy gingerbread and cinnamon notes along with a hint of aniseed.  This gives an increasing dryness to the whisky.  Late background notes of green apples, fruit cake and clove give significant depth.

The finish is very long, drying and warming.  This is especially true once the sweeter syrup, butterscotch and fruit notes fade to leave the ginger, cinnamon and bittersweet grains fighting for attention.  The effect and combination is delicious.

What's the verdict?
The Hedonism Quindecimus is exquisite and shows the creative skills of Compass Box.  It also shows how good grain whiskies can be, especially when sympathetically blended together.  The depth and complexity of flavour makes this an enjoyable whisky and one to sit and savour occasionally rather than everyday.  Compass Box whiskies have always been impressive but rather than sitting on their laurels they just seem to be getting better and better.

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