A little while ago Compass Box was kind enough to send me a couple of samples from their core range. They asked me which three I would prefer and I picked Oak Cross, Peat Monster and Spice Tree. Mostly because I have tasted them earlier, but that was ages ago and I wanted to know where I stand on those drams now.
I think, based on the reactions any Compass Box bottling gets on the internet, they can fairly safely send out stuff to random bloggers since it’s almost always well received.
Oak Cross is a dram that focuses almost entirely on showing oak influences on whisky, with both American and European oak used in maturing the whiskies that make up this Blended Malt.
So, in short, I knew I had to expect a whisky that’s heavy on the oak, but is there more to discover? Does it also have depth?
On the nose I am reminded of the Glenfiddich Rick Oak, which also focuses on the use of different kinds of oak. It’s heavy on the toasted kind, with a certain graininess that’s already present on the nose. I also gets hints of cinnamon and a rather earty background. It’s nice, it’s well done, but it’s fairly straight forward without much to be discovered. A whisky very focused on wood, but not in a “Japanese” way.
On the paate there is more fruit than I initially expected. There’s banana and raisins, some prunes maybe. Of course, the oak dominant, but rules with a gentle hand (how’s that for proze?). Cinnamon, the toasted oak. It’s also rather dry with black pepper.
The finish is rather comparable to the palate. Rather rich, oaky and pretty long too.
I didn’t really know what to expect. I had this whisky at the first whisky festival I went to, some 8 years ago. Back then I also didn’t know what to expect but I wasn’t thrilled by it. It does take some time to develop ones palate, I guess.
Well, anyway, I like this whisky. It is not the most complex dram you’ll ever find, or the best. What it is, is a dram that displays what oak can do to a clear spirit. It’s really lovely and has the toasted feeling that works rather well in American oak. How the European oak is profiled I’m not sure, but it’s probably in the pepper and cinnamon flavours.
Anyway, it’s nice, and the for the cost of a bottle a bloody good deal.
Oak Cross, 43%, Compass Box. Available at Master of Malt for about 45 euros.
Credit where credit is due: Thanks to Compass Box for sending this sample! I thoroughly enjoyed it.