Boutique whisky blenders Compass Box are releasing two characteristically covetable whiskies this month. This is Not a Luxury Whisky is a playful bottling inspired by artist René Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe that contrasts a notably high-end blend of Glen Ord and venerable grain whiskies with deliberately utilitarian packaging.
“We wanted to see what would happen if we put a rare, old, expensive liquid in an explicitly non-luxury container,” says Compass Box founder John Glaser, a man famous for creating blends blessed with beautiful bottles. “Would it diminish the whisky in any way? Would the liquid inside be seen as less desirable simply because of what was written on the front label? Or would the true measure of the whisky prove to be the amber liquid inside?”
Limited to 4,992 bottles (£150, 53.1 per cent abv), the liquid itself marries 19-year-old sherry cask Glen Ord with rare 40-year-old grain whiskies and a hint of 30-year-old Caol Ila to create a full-bodied tannic blend crammed with spicy Christmas-cake fruit and a subtle, fragrant smokiness – sure to delight fans of sherry-cask whiskies.
Compass Box’s popular limited-edition Flaming Heart (12,060 bottles, £100 each) also makes a return this month, marrying the more roasty, spicy notes of whisky aged in new French oak casks with the romance of Islay peat smoke. Sweet and woodsmoky at first, before lifting to something more coastal, flinty and fresh, this is Compass Box blending at its absolute best.