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Compass Box debuts one-year-old ‘sacrificial spirit’

Independent Scotch whisky bottler Compass Box has released two limited edition expressions including a one-year-old “sacrificial spirit” that contains liquid from Glenlossie, Glen Elgin and Linkwood distilleries.

Stranger & Stranger and Juveniles are the latest releases from Compass Box

The “sacrificial spirit”, called Stranger & Stranger, has been created in collaboration with London design agency Stranger & Stranger.

Stranger & Stranger is comprised of 99% liquid from the three Speyside single malt distilleries. However, the addition of the one-year-old grain whisky spirit from Girvan distillery prevents the expression from being classed as Scotch whisky.

The bottling marks the 10-year anniversary of the working relationship between Compass Box and the packaging designer, which spans 35 whisky bottle designs.

The idea of the “not-technically-a-whisky whisky” came when Compass Box founder John Glaser began blending old single malt whiskies with a small amount of one-year-old spirit that the firm had been ageing in an “experimental” toasted and charred American oak barrel.

The spirit – described as tasting like a “beautifully aged old malt whisky” is said to have notes of custard, dark sugars, fresh apple and “an appealing herbal character”.

“We had taken to calling it a ‘sacrificial spirit’ because we didn’t know what it would taste like after a year in these experimental new barrels,” said Glaser.

“Turned out, it was amazing. And adding just a small amount to old single malt whiskies provided a lovely underlying sweetness and complexity.”

It is noted as having “a label like no other in the world of spirits”, and took inspiration from “this notion of a sacrificial spirit”.

The Stranger & Stranger team, led by design director Guy Pratt, used a “cutting-edge” printing technique not typically used for bottle labels to create an almost 3D effect.

Due to the label being “so heavily embossed”, a specially trained team is required to apply the labels.

Bottled at 46% abv and limited to 4,802 bottles, Stranger & Stranger is available now select specialist retailers around the world, and will also launch in the US in March 2019. The spirit has an RRP of £150 (US$199).

In addition, Compass Box has also released a malt Scotch whisky called Juveniles. Bottled at 46% abv, the whisky has been created in collaboration with Paris-based wine bar Juveniles Bistrot à Vins.

Glaser recalled: “I first went to Juveniles many years ago, shortly after starting Compass Box and I loved it so much I left a business card asking the owner Tim Johnston if I could make a whisky for him.

“He called me the next week and that started the relationship. Our businesses share a similar approach to great food and drink, seeking out integrity but not taking things too seriously. We both like to do things in our own way.”

Juveniles whisky is comprised of single malt liquid from four distilleries and is described as having notes of barley sugar, pear drops and vanilla. The label design, also created by Stranger & Stranger, pays homage to classic French wine and spirits designs from the early 20th century.

A total of 14,894 bottles of Juveniles are available from select specialist retailers for an RRP of £100 (US$150).

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