Compass Box Week, Er, Fortnight – The Peat Monster

Many apologies for the delay in closing out the slightly-longer-than-a-week Compass Box Week. February seems to be my month for home IT failures and this February was no exception. I tend to have a limit to how much I’m willing to deal with and this pushed me into full-bore disgust. Any energy I would have devoted to typing up even a quickie review ended up going towards race prep and everything involved with that.

As a brief review, the last few notes I’ve posted have been reviewing the core range of Compass Box – Hedonism (Blended Grain), Asyla (Blended), Oak Cross and Spice Tree (both Blended Malt). The final entry in this range is The Peat Monster, an ambitiously named whisky, but in a world of Octomores and Supernovas, is it really a “Peat Monster”? We’ll see.

The Peat Monster has a lightly lemony and slightly malty nose with a pretty well-balanced level of peat. It’s not some sort of untamable beast of peat; it’s just fairly well-peated. It’s got a bit of the rubbery note I associate most strongly with Caol Ila, and a surprising bit of young whisky vegetal tones in there. Not overpowering but definitely noticeable to me.

The palate is big and full with some oiliness; a little black pepper and chili oil, some rubbery notes, dry campfire smoke and a slightly diesel/tarry industrial quality to it. There’s some barley in the background too.

The finish starts warm and has some dry campfire smoke and chili oil. It stays smoky, but then gets sweeter with some maltiness. It’s also got a nice mouth-and-tongue Sichuan peppercorn tingle to it.

The Peat Monster isn’t a “monster” in the sense of a double-barrelled blast of peat that knocks you down at 40 yards. It’s just a full, slightly wild ride with some heat and a little bit of youth and a ton of different peated characteristics. Its a nice mix, but based on the asking price I see these days I don’t know that I’d consider it superior to the single malts available from Islay these days. However, variety is the spice of life…

Overall, Compass Box has an interesting range. In general I’ve been more pleased with their limited releases; Spice Tree is also a fantastic whiskey that I think manages to take a good thing (Clynelish) and make it better in an affordable way.

If you’re hungry for a change, I think it’s worth testing the waters.

At a glance:

Compass Box The Peat Monster 46% ABV
  A lightly lemony, slightly malty nose with a pretty well-matched level of peat. Not as beastly as the name suggests; a little rubbery note; maybe just the slightest hint of young whisky with a slightly vegetal note.
Palate:  Big and full mouthfeel, somewhat oily, a little pepper and chili oil, some rubbery notes, dry campfire smoke and a hint of a diesel and tar type industrial note. A little barley in the background.
Finish:  Warm at first; dry campfire smoke, a little more chili oil, stays slightly smoky and then gets a little sweeter with some malt after a moment. A pleasing sichuan peppercorn tingle too.
Comment:  Nice mix of peat from Islay. It’s good but at the asking price these days I think I’d still rather buy a single malt of almost any distillery and pocket the change.
Rating: B

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