Compass Box, a popular independent whisky bottler in Scotland, has introduced two new expressions for the fall. Ultramarine (51% ABV; $375 SRP; 5,430 bottles worldwide), arriving in stores in October, and Flaming Heart 2022 (48.9% ABV; $155 SRP; 9,606 bottles worldwide), arriving in November.
The first, Ultramarine, is said to be the first in the bottler’s “Extinct Blends Quartet, which will pay homage to certain styles of Scotch from the past, reflecting the production methods and philosophies that prevailed in Scotland during specific eras.” It takes its inspiration “from the antique Sherry and pipe tobacco notes of a deluxe blended Scotch, first released in the late 1980s. It relies on mature malts from the Caol Ila and Glendullan distilleries; aged grain whiskies from the Cameronbridge and Girvan distilleries, as well as a medley of pre-blended stocks.
“To amass the weight of body and haunting smokiness required, Ultramarine uses malts aged in Sherry casks as well as malts with a peaty character.”
“As whiskymakers and blenders, we take umbrage that closed single malt distilleries attract all the adulation and explosive hammer prices at auction,” said James Saxon, Compass Box lead whiskymaker, in a prepared statement. “A distillery is never entirely lost. As we see with Brora, Rosebank and Port Ellen, they can be revived – mash tuns can be refilled, stills heated up again. Blends, though, are the richest time capsules Scotch whisky has, reflecting the ideas and sensibilities of the teams of people that made them, and the styles of stocks available to the blenders from year to year. Ultramarine and the whiskies that will come after it are not recreations – that isn’t possible.
“They are instead tributes, our way of reimagining the DNA of some great blends of the past.”
Official tasting notes for this expression make mention of “prominent aromas of toffee, vanilla and toasted oak, with impressions of a peaty malt kiln. Leathery dried mango builds following the first sip with peat, roasted pecan and raisin. It finishes in a nuttier, spicier and smokier direction with time.”
Flaming Heart, meanwhile, is the seventh edition of the same named series that’s said to be “inspired by a rock song and born of oak, smoke, and fire.” For this year’s release it starts with a “trio of whiskies from the Laphroaig, Talisker and Caol Ila distilleries [that] brings hearty and harmonious peatiness. Spice comes from a blend of Highland malt whiskies, further matured for at least five years in custom French Oak barrels that have been given a heavy toast. To make this bottling even more special, remnants from past Compass Box limited editions have been included, such as Peat Monster Arcana, Myths & Legends, and the 2018 edition of Flaming Heart, to deliver extra smoke and richness.
“The results feature a high-energy nose with smouldering peat embers, cigar wrapper and candied ginger. The palate is oily, smoky, rich and savory.”