Whisky review: Compass Box This is Not a Luxury Whisky, Flaming Heart

By Martin Eber, March 21 2016
Whisky review: Compass Box This is Not a Luxury Whisky, Flaming Heart

Compass Box is an independent bottler which blends and bottles 'small batch' Scottish whiskies under their own label, with a reputation for pushing the boundaries of expectation, flavour, experimentation and marketing.

We recently sampled their latest (2015 release) limited editions: This is Not a Luxury Whisky and "Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary Edition. 

This is Not a Luxury Whisky

This quirkily-named dram is designed to make people rethink their definition of 'luxury whisky' and remind that at its fiery heart whisky is for drinking, not leaving unopened on the shelf.

We love the design of the bottle, in particular the cap and closure. No elaborate foil covering here, just a cork and a thin paper strip which almost says "rip out the cork and pour a glass, NOW!"

Colour: Vibrant, deep dark gold.

Nose: There's a lot going on here. We've tried some incredible blends in recent months and this absolutely continues that trend. Marzipan, sherbet, lots of rich sherry influence (walnuts, glacé cherries, sherry-soaked raisins) and the slightest hint of peat smoke (which is interesting considering only 4% of the blend is peated, and at 30 years old you'd expect the peat to be fairly subtle).

Palate: A hint of earthy smoke, a lot of sultanas, then citrus-driven Christmas cake. There's a definite sweetness too – icing sugar dusted milk chocolate truffles. Delicious.

Finish: Long and sweet. Lemon cream plus a little peat smoke which lingers to the very end.

Rating: 93/100. A brilliantly-constructed blend, and testament to John Glaser and the Compass Box team's skill at constructing complex and fantastic whiskies. And, rather ironically, in taste this is indeed a luxury whisky – but it's a bottle for drinking, not decorating your cabinet.

Details: 53.1% ABV, NAS, Blended Scotch whisky, £124.75

Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary Edition

Flaming Heart is a blended malt, with Caol Ila making up the majority of the blend; it's non-chill filtered with no spirit colouring.

Colour: Light gold.

Nose: 'Medicinal sweetness' best sums up this complex mix. Iodine and milk bottle lollies meets Taiwanese pineapple cake and freshly cut grass.

Palate: Sweet and juicy peat. Some mocha, lots of milk chocolate, yet still medicinal. I would have guessed there was some Laphroaig in the blend if I didn't know better. There's a slight meatiness too, like an aged, oily piece of Jamón ibérico. Simply excellent.

Finish: Long, lingering woodsmoke with an underlying confectionary sweetness – boiled lollies, predominantly. 

Rating: 92/100. Another winner. It's not hard to throw a few Islay whiskies together and produce a blended (or blended malt) Islay whisky, but to produce one with the complexities that this has? That takes skill.

Details: 48.9% ABV, NAS, Blended Scotch whisky, £83.12 

Also read: Three great whiskies to buy duty-free

This article was originally published on TimeforWhisky – visit TimeForWhisky.com on the Web and on Instagram.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Martin Eber

Martin is the founding editor of TimeForWhisky.com, a leading blog for lovers of the dram with tasting notes, events, bar reports, new releases and more.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 363

How is this relevant to Autsralian Business Traveller might I ask?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Hi Russell.

It's relevant to our readers because - as illustrated in last year's reader survey - the majority of our readers enjoy whisky and it's an obvious fit for the business traveller 'lifestyle'.

We already cover selected technology stories on Australian Business Traveller, again with an eye towards interest to our core audience, and will be extending that to regular (weekly) coverage of tech, whisky and other lifestyle aspects relevant to the business traveller

Readers who find themselves in disagreement with such content can choose not to read it.

PS  We've deleted a comment which had no value to add to this conversation.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 216

"a comment which had no value to add to this conversation"

How subjective, and rather incorrect. Actually, I daresay you deleted it because you didn't like the opinion.

For posterity: The comment pointed out that it was cross-promotion for an AusBT spin-off website (TimeForWhisky.com), and is entirely relevant to Russell's question. Obviously he feels the same way too.

By all means, feel free to delete this comment too, if you don't like your readers sharing their opinion. Perhaps I was mistaken in reading the comment box header:

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

Should be adjusted to note that all comments have to fit perfectly with the editorial and business direction of AusBT.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 276

I've taken a screenshot of this comment just in case AusBT delete it. If the mod's are going to just delete comments THEY don't find relevant (which in itself is a super subjective view to have), might as well close the comments. 

22 Mar 2016

Total posts 2

"Spin-off website" haha. TimeforWhisky.com has been around for years...this is obviously part of AusBT expanding into a few more lifestyle categories (which, you may have noticed, are of interest to a lot of travellers). 

Like David says - "Readers who find themselves in disagreement with such content can choose not to read it."


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

No, Jay, deleted because it had nothing to do with the subject at hand – which is an article on whisky. If you want to talk about whisky and especially the whiskys reviewed above, by all means share your thoughts.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 276

Well.. good. because I like to get wasted to Whiskey on Saturday nights!

Party at David's place next week!


23 May 2014

Total posts 120

Interesting article - thanks for sharing. What airports do you recommend for whisky shopping? Was a bit disappointed in Sydney but maybe just didn't go to the right shop (or missed the good stuff)...

22 Mar 2016

Total posts 2

Sydney is like a lot of airports - lots of the "standard" duty free / travel retail specials, but nothing too exciting. Unfortunately most airports are the same! SIN sometimes has a few interesting releases (especially if you're a millionaire!), as does HKG. Japanese airports very occasionally get some rare / single cask whiskies (but they don't last long), as well as some marked-up but beautiful Suntory special bottlings (i.e. the standard liquid in fancy bottles).

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Just a reminder to keep comments relevant to the content of this article, which is whiskey (and in particular, Compass Box and these two blends).

Comments not directly related to this will be deleted. This includes debates on AusBT's choice of content.

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