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Compass Box marks 15 years with new release

Whisky bottler Compass Box is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a new, limited edition blended Scotch called “This is not a luxury whisky”.

This is not a luxury whisky is said to "challenge people's perceptions" about the luxury whisky sector.
This is not a luxury whisky is said to “challenge people’s perceptions” about the luxury whisky sector.

Inspired by Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte’s 1929 concept piece, The Treachery of Images, the new whisky is said to “challenge people’s perceptions about what represents a ‘luxury’ whisky – or, put another way, a whisky worth paying a lot of money for,” said Compass Box founder and whisky maker, John Glaser.

Four “parcels” of whisky were used to create This is not a luxury whisky. 19-year-old Glen Ord was blended with two 40-year-old grain distilled at Girvan and Strathclyde, and 30-year-old Caol Ila malt.

“As whisky makers, when we say ‘luxury’ what we’re talking about is the liquid, the flavour, the experience of enjoying the whisky,” Glaser continued. “Late last year we came across a parcel of astoundingly good casks of malt whisky from the Glen Ord distillery: sherry butts, distilled almost twenty years ago. We fell in love with them immediately, secured every cask available in the parcel, then set to work blending them with other whiskies to help us create something even more compelling.

“After months of development, the resulting blend was opulent, lingering, complex – and we’ve bottled it at natural cask strength so people can experience the full concentration of the whisky’s flavours. Everyone’s definition of luxury is different, but for us – as whisky makers – this is about as close as it gets.”

The Treachery of Images by Margritte
The Treachery of Images by Margritte

Magritte’s image of a pipe, the inspiration behind the release, features the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” – or “This is not a pipe”. The work is often interpreted as saying that the painting itself is not a pipe; it is an image that doesn’t have the same qualities or functionality as the actual object.

“Similar to what Magritte did with his painting of a pipe that claimed it was not a pipe, we wanted to see what would happen if we put a rare, old, expensive liquid in an explicitly ‘non-luxury’ container,” continued Glaser.

“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? That’s what we hope to get people thinking about with this release.”

This is not a luxury whisky is bottled at 53.1% abv, its natural cask strength. 4,992 bottles will be available across Europe from 15 October at £150 SRP and in the US from 12 November at $225 SRP.

Earlier this year it was announced that Bacardi had acquired a minority stake in Compass Box.

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