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KCM Spirit Reviews

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review 191: Compass Box Peat Monster

Review 191
Compass Box Peat Monster: 46% abv

Background: As a huge swing from Spice Tree, Peat Monster takes on a completely differently angle of Scotch with the darker side of peaty, powerful flavor. Compass Box has proven to be good at this kind of thing, too, with their Flaming Heart being a very popular, praised malt blend. This particular whisky sits at 46%, which we are happy about, and is composed of 49% Islay malt, 30% Highland malt, and 21% Island malt. The whisky is aged in virtually all new American oak casks, with 1% being exposed to French oak. And although we have a bottle of this, we decided to open the vile and include it in our Compass Box series. Here are the thoughts.


Nose:  With a dry, malty peat aroma immediate on the nose, it is clear that this will be a nice one. There is almost a smell of baked bread in the nose, along with a slight saltiness and sea water. There is a strong sense of oakiness on the arrival, which adds an element of intensity. The nose seems almost completely void of any fruitiness, with a very subtle hint of vanilla. Between leather, sawdust, and burnt wood, the dry style of the aroma is noticeable. It appears in this case that the fresh wood has dominated the aroma, because after opening up, it is difficult to pull more.

Arrival: The Peat Monster does not disappoint, with a malty, heavily salty and smoky arrival. It doesn’t taste overwhelming, and has a remarkable balance. There is a strong seaweed-like flavor, with some clove and cinnamon spice really blasting in. The oak is definitely present on the arrival, with a slight savory meatiness developing late in the arrival.

Body: The body takes on more of the salt and smoke body, while adding fresh tobacco into the mix, much like the similar style of Kilchoman. The cinnamon and clove really jump into the body, giving it the type of spicy, but smoky presence. It is so rich in the body, making the whole event more dynamic.

Finish: Getting into the finish, the smoke leaves its lasting impression as the Peat Monster slumps away into the dark abyss. The Monster has left a nice blend of refined saltiness, peat smoke, and smooth malt. In addition, small hints of fruitiness actually start to emerge, perhaps in the wake of the Monster. There is actually an interesting cayenne pepper heat to the finish, which is so unique to find in a whisky. The finish is certainly earthy, with a strangely similar flavor to agave hiding at the back of tongue. There is a slightly medicinal hint to the end of the finish, with a dark, phenol quality to it.

With Water

Nose: Water is a definite favor to the nose. The nose becomes more floral and sweet, adding some sugarcane and grain notes that were harder to identify before. The peat stays strong, due to the higher proof, and the whisky remains well balanced on the nose. There is still no real sign of fruitiness in the aroma.

Arrival: The arrival is much sweeter after adding water,  almost to a disappointing degree. The arrival is more mild and controlled, and the peat backs off substantially. There is more vanilla, and even a little bit of apple

Body: The peatiness is still present in the body, with a grill smoke flavor and some savory notes. The body has declined a lot in comparison to before.

Finish: The spice in the finish is more pronounced, with more allspice than anything coming through, and even some ginger to be noted. The finish tastes almost zesty at this point, with a slightly Italian spice taste to it. The medicinal quality to the finish is also enhanced in the finish, now bringing out a cough syrup like flavor at the end.

Final Comments: Peat Monster is very much like Spice Tree. It is not considered the most complex whisky in the world, and certainly the nose proved to be highly disappointing. That being said, this is a solid offering and offers a unique blend of Kilchoman dry smokiness, and the salty intensity of Laphroaig. It is such a lovely medley of peat flavor that any peat-happy malt drinker would appreciate the hugeness of flavor. It seems like the whisky shouldn’t be exposed to a lot of water, in order to retain the pure, natural flavors that it has to offer, despite how it enhances the nose. Overall, a very solid offering in the world of peated whisky, and worth the buy.
Why you’d buy it: A nice, smoky offering from an innovative blender.

Why you wouldn’t: You like more fruitiness to your peated whisky.

Score: 8.5/10

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