Last Sunday I had the pleasure of Virtually attending Compass Box’s tasting of their limited edition Peat Monster Arcana!
The tasting was part of their continuing 20th anniversary celebrations of Compass Box Whisky.
Our host was Compass Box Founder John Glaser and he was joined virtually by James Saxon, lead Whiskymaker for Peat Monster Arcana and author and freelance cookery writer Amanda Schuster who explored food pairings.
We explored the story behind their latest edition which is an experiment into oak and smoke and compared The Peat Monster, from the Compass Box Malt Whisky Collection and Peat Monster Arcana.
We have been experimenting with French oak since the early days of our company. Peat Monster Arcana is the first Compass Box to feature smoky whiskies matured in French oak.
We’re delighted to be able to build on this experiment in our 20th anniversary year and we hope dedicated fans of The Peat Monster discover a new side to this charismatic whisky.
– John Glaser: Compass Box Founder and Whiskymaker
It is a truly delicious release and one that has taught us so much about the influence of French oak. Of course, there will always be further mysteries to explore.
– James Saxon: Lead whiskymaker for Peat Monster Arcana
It was all-smoke on the night with a real celebration of the Compass Box style that these two drams have in abundance!
We also talked about what it is about smoke that people find so attractive?
To me, Smoke is nostalgia. It reminds me of cosiness, warmth, being with friends. And it’s great for sharpening the appetite!
So, what did I think? Here are my tasting notes …
Tasting Notes – Peat Monster Arcana Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (46%)
AN EXPERIMENT INTO OAK & SMOKE
“What if we matured The Peat Monster in French Oak for a few years? Peat Monster Arcana is the result; using complementary malt whiskies, we have captured the richly spicy and more subtly smoky profile of three experimental casks.”
The Talisker Distillery, The Miltonduff Distillery, The Ardbeg Distillery, The Peat Monster (finished in French Oak custom casks).
Bottled at 46%. Natural colour. Not chill-filtered.
A limited edition of 8,328 bottles.
Serving Recommendations: Peat Monster Arcana rewards experimentation. Explore how the addition of water or soda reveals new textures or discover how its sweet smokiness reacts with different foods.
I asked if Compass Box ‘char’ their barrels prior to casking?
All casks we use for secondary maturation are prepared in some way. Charring (recharring) the casks is a typical method. The degree of char, toast or preparation varies depending on the whisky project we are focusing on.
Our French oak casks we use three different toast (not char) levels, whihc each give a different flavor profile. The American Oak barrels we use are all charred beforehand.
What was the toast on the Arcana French-oak casks?
We used 2 French oak casks in Arcana. 10% of the recipe is a refill french oak cask at a HEAVY toast and 2% is a Custom French Oak Barrel also at a HEAVY toast.
Nose: Peat n’ smoke – lovely and lots of it! Smokey fires and smokey clothes! Sweet white wood. creamy coffee.
Palate: Sweet and fruity with lots of smoke and peat but the peat is more in the background than I expected. Lovely creamy chocolate.
Finish: More of the same and the cane sugar sweetnss balances the smoke very well. Antiseptic, licorice and it’s quite peppery as well with a dry tanin mouthfeel at the end.
Overall: The fruitiness was a very pleasant surprise to this dram – I really wasn’t expecting it! It manages to stand it’s ground against peat which is no mean feat!
I love the peat aromas – very much a ‘hanging around bonfires too long’ vibe to it!
Tasting Notes – The Peat Monster Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (46%)
PEAT WITH ELEGANCE
“A whisky that layers peaty and smoky elements. The recipe has evolved to include older and more elegant Islay malts.”
The Caol Ila Distillery, The Laphroaig Distillery, our Highland Malt Blend (single malts from the Clynelish, Dailuaine and Teaninich distilleries).
Bottled at 46%. Natural colour. Not chill-filtered.
What were the reasons behind the Peat monster recipe change in 2018?
we noticed the palate of the peated whisky drinker had evolved a lot over the past 15 years since we released Peat Monster, so we wanted to modernize the style a bit.
Nose: Peatiness coupled with burning embers. It’s sweet with buttery popcorn.
Palate: Sweet and fruity with apple and slightly tropical flavours. Peaty and smokey – smokehouse rules!
Finish: Spicy with sweet peppery notes coupled with a fruity blend.
Overall: A lovely dram – fruity peat in a well balanced package!
ABOUT COMPASS BOX
We are Scotch whiskymakers. This word ‘whiskymaker’ is our word – it does not appear in a dictionary. And for 20 years we have been relentlessly focused on reinventing Scotch whisky, with every new blend designed to help make the world of whisky a more interesting place. Of course, we have not done it on our own. We have collaborated with some of the world’s most visionary bartenders and designers to really push the boundaries of what is possible. We have won more awards for innovation than any other producer in Scotland because we are always experimenting. Always looking for sparks of creativity that will deliver something totally compelling, yet completely surprising. Whiskies that just must be experienced. This vision motivates us as whiskymakers. Our blends are consistently rated equal to or better than the great single malts of Scotland by the most respected voices in the industry. Six-time Whisky Magazine Innovator of the Year. 2020 Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame Inductee, John Glaser, Founder of Compass Box.
JOHN GLASER, WHISKYMAKER
American ex-pat John Glaser is the founder and head whiskymaker of Compass Box, the boutique Scotch whisky blending house widely recognised in the industry for their innovative approach to the creation and enjoyment of whisky. John began his career on a path to become a winemaker, before re-routing himself through the corporate world and ending up as a Marketing Director for Johnnie Walker in London. With a desire to do things differently, John started Compass Box from the kitchen of his west London home in 2000 in order to bring the joys of Scotch whisky to more people. From the beginning, his vision has been to create one of Scotland’s finest and most compelling whisky companies, re-imagining the standards for quality and style in the industry. In 2020, John was inducted into the Whisky Magazine’s Hall of Fame. Two decades later, Compass Box now has two blending rooms in London, a team of 20 working internationally and stocks of maturing whiskies in Scotland. In 2020, Compass Box celebrates its 20th anniversary. With a forward-looking approach and unrelenting focus on creativity and integrity, John and his team continue to take forward his mission to make the world of Scotch whisky a more interesting place.
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