Compass Box finds Scotch label ‘loophole’By Annie Hayes
Independent whisky bottler Compass Box reveals it has uncovered a ‘solution’ to the issue of transparency in Scotch whisky labelling regulations at the same time as releasing two new bottlings.
Compass Box founder and whiskymaker John Glaser said: “Our Scotch Whisky Transparency Campaign set out to effect a change in the regulations governing the way Scotch whisky is promoted – this would have been the neatest solution. However, for several reasons – including, believe it or not, ‘Brexit’ – it looks unlikely that the industry will support such changes in the short-term.
“So we have found a legal workaround that allows us to achieve our primary goal – getting complete, clear and unbiased information into the hands of the people who are actively seeking it.”
Starting with new limited edition bottlings Three Year Old Deluxe and Spice Tree Extravaganza – and extending to their full range of whiskies from 1 November – Compass Box will provide information about its blends when approached by “interested consumers”.
Glaser continued: “The legal advice we received is clear: while we must not actively promote the ages of the components used in our blends, we can provide information when we are asked for it by interested consumers.
“So starting with our limited editions we are simply asking interested consumers to get in touch with us by calling our office, emailing us, contacting us on social media or speaking to us at events.
“The information is there, we’ll do all we can within the current regulations to share it with you – all you need to do is ask.”
While new Three Year Old Deluxe is composed of 0.4% three year-old malt whisky produced near the village of Brora, 90.3% malt whisky of a “different but considerably older” age from the same distillery, and 9.3% peaty malt whisky from the Isle of Skye, current regulations specify that only the age of the youngest component whisky may be shared with consumers through the “description, presentation or labeling of the whisky”.
Bottled at 49.2% abv, in total just 3,282 bottles of Three Year Old Deluxe will be released worldwide.
Glaser said: “The style of the whisky is nothing like what most people will think of when they see the name. The rich vanilla notes, waxiness and decadent baked orchard fruit notes from the larger parcel of Highland malt whisky provide a beautiful platform on top of which the brooding qualities of the peaty malt whisky and the clean, bright character of the three year old parcel are able to shine.”
The second release, Spice Tree Extravaganza, sees former banned bottling The Spice Tree reinterpreted with the use of “older components” and a “significant portion” of Sherry-cask matured aged malt whisky.
Glaser explained: “Ten years ago we were compelled to discontinue production of one of our most innovative Scotch whiskies – The Spice Tree – due to a certain avant-garde approach to cask maturation that was deemed “untraditional”.
“In the years that followed we were able to work with our cooper friends in both France and Scotland to bring back The Spice Tree and now today – on the tenth anniversary of the original bottling being banned – we are proud to release this limited edition whisky – Spice Tree Extravaganza.
Bottled at 46% abv, the expression is said to offer notes of sherry wine, dark berries and “the sweetness of traditional sweet shops” on the nose.
Glaser added: “On the palate there is juicy red fruit, a dark brown sugar richness, the trademark ginger and clove spice character and a long, spicy, substantial finish. This is an excessive, rich, dare we say extravagant whisky. The perfect drink with which to mark one of our more infamous anniversaries. We encourage everyone to try it and enjoy it any way they like – there are no rules that can’t be broken.’
Just 12,240 bottles of Spice Tree Extravaganza will be released worldwide with the RRP of £100 (US$140), while Three Year Old Deluxe will be made available at £200 (US$300).
Both releases will launch first in Europe in 1 October and in the US in 1 November 2016.