Time for a Compass Box release in the form of the celebratory Hedonism Quindecimus marking 15 years in business. This for those blissfully unaware was the sequel to the debut bottling from Compass Box released back in 2000. Quindecimus hit the shelves in February 2015 and was a bespoke edition of 5689 bottles, presented in the typically low key fashion that was now associated with their releases.
Cards on the table and I’m not a huge fan of Compass Box. Believe me I’ve tried various bottlings over the years and even went so far as to organise a vertical tasting piece you can read at Whisky Rover. I had a Spice Tree bottling that just didn’t agree with me and eventually I used some in a whisky sauce but even then that failed to impress. So I found a nearby Compass Box fan and just gave him most of what was left in the bottle.
I find their releases all a little lightweight and mainly styling over substance. It’s my personal taste but I do find that many of their releases rely on Clynelish and occupy a narrow spectrum of the whisky hemisphere. All credit to the team at Compass Box, as they’ve built a brand and loyal following who snap up every release regardless of the concept or price.
Hedonism Quindecimus is accompanied by some details of the components that go into this grain whisky. In total there are five distilleries supplying aged, rarer stock, which equates to a minimum of twenty years for this blend. This should come as no surprise given how few grain distilleries now operate and all aged whiskies in today’s market are rare. In terms of pricing this was around £130 when it hit retail (before selling out) and this is a decent sum for what is a grain blend.
Colour: a light caramel
Nose: coconut flakes, vanilla cream, sugar rush of highland toffee and warm shortbread. A floral aspect and its noticeably very light plus there’s a hint of strawberry beneath and a buttery nature. Also I’m reminded of when I have to slice button mushrooms in the kitchen; there’s a brief fungal element.
Taste: it’s a very safe blend assortment of light sugary flavours and very safe. Caramel, more biscuits and plenty of vanilla with aerosol cream. Water isn’t recommended as I find it very fragile. There’s apples and I’m reminded of those candy cigarettes you used to have as a kid.
Overall: I’m surprised that this feels a little youthful for a grain and lacking the real character I’ve seen from several single grain cask bottlings. The blend is less than a sum of its parts arguably and the price being asked here at launch doesn’t match the experience. I’d be much happier picking up a grain bottling from the Douglas Laing Old Particular range.