Compass Box Magic Cask
(Vatted) Malt Scotch Whisky
Limited Release, 480 bottles
In the autumn of 2006, the LCBO (the wine and spirits state monopoly in Ontario) launched a marketing campaign called "The Whisky Generation." It consisted of pictures of cool-looking urbanites mostly under 30, with the text, “The Whisky Generation” beside their pretty faces. The LCBO webiste was adorned with the music of some cheesy twangy guitars and faces of 20-something male and female hipsters. I refuse to comment on what informed the decision to launch such a campaign or the successes of the campaign (from what I understand, at every tasting event the LCBO held that month, there were seldom ANYONE under 30.) Do I think mixing Crown Royal with ginger ale is an effective way to turn young spirits consumers onto whisky? Hell no, but bless them for trying. Everyone is trying. And (nearly) everyone is failing. Again, I will not use this space to hypothesize as to why.
John Glaser created this product as an experiment that he had no use for, until now. He thought it suited Canada well as we have a law that stipulates that in the making of Canadian whisky, 9.09% can be "other". I am not sure of the origin of this law, but it means that distillers can, and have been able to, add whatever they like to their whisky such as other types of whisky, fortified wines, sugars, fruit juices, etc.
Real quality control.
Mr. Jan Westcott (President and CEO, Spirits Canada, Association of Canadian Distillers) says: "In Canada, for as far back as we've been making whiskey, we've looked for ways to differentiate our product from other products. One of the ways we do that, and have done that, in Canada--some of the records I've looked at go back over 100 years--is to flavour our whiskey with other whiskies and wine. If you go back many, many years, the rule of thumb was about 10%. In converting that to codification, the actual conversion worked out to be 9.09%. That compares, for example, with what happens in the United States. When they make a blended whiskey in the United States, they can add 80%. Therefore, our provisions are quite modest and they're Canadian. Other countries do other things and we respect that."
So what results with the Magic Cask is a NEW sort of whisky from Compass Box. John Glaser has never released a whisky from a cask that once held wine/sherry/port, etc., rather he uses whiskies from American oak ex-Bourbon casks or new European oak. This one is a 17yr old Linkwood that spent the last year of maturation in a "magical" Madeira barrique. This is blended with a 14yr old Clynelish.
First of all, I usually dont mention colour but I am going to today. It is a strange pinky orange. And every bottle I have had/shared/seen has sediment on the bottom. Unusual with whisky. Must be from wine cask.
Nice rich nose. Malty but sherried and candied. Red Lifesavers. It has a strong grape and cheese (stilton?) aroma. Bit of a nose prickle.
Tastes creamy, malty sweetness offset by a strong wine/sherry/madeira element, but a certain smokiness pokes through as well. Slightly harsh and burning in the middle. The finish hangs about with candied orange and tobacco. LONG and lingering. Smoky again. Wintery. Christmas-y.
I love the label. Not everyone does. I like the whisky. Not everyone does. I dont like the price. Yeah, it is a bit rare and therefore pricey, but I would say it's worth the experience if you have the cash. Or do like we did when I was back in Toronto: all throw a few bucks and share the bottle with a dozen or so friends. Oooo... sharing... SCARY.
Pretty good stuff from a guy who is a real innovator, and ballsy to boot cuz he is willing to take chances.
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