Compass Box Oak Cross ~ 46% (Compass Box)

46% ABV, £36-41 for 70cl

Score: 84/100

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What they say:

We call this whisky Oak Cross because it offers the best characteristics of both American and French oak aging. A rich, medium-bodied blended malt Scotch whisky, Oak Cross combines vanilla characters from American oak and spicy, clove-like characters from French oak.

Innovative New Oak Casks

We work with a small mill in France that produces some of the highest quality cooperage oak in the world. It was our work with this mill that led us to experimenting with secondary maturation of malt whiskies in casks fitted with new French oak heads. This is something no one else in Scotland does. The result is whisky with more character and complexity. We use this technique on about 40% of the whisky in Oak Cross and it results in a superior finished product.

The Signature Range from Compass Box

Oak Cross is part of the Signature Range from Compass Box. The five Scotch whiskies in this range cover the entire spectrum of Scotch whisky styles, from the delicate, sweet character of Asyla, to the subtle vanilla, clove and fruity characteristics of Oak Cross, the rich and spice notes of The Spice Tree, the peaty- smoky character of The Peat Monster and the elegant flavours of vanilla cream, toffee and coconut in Hedonism. Each is made from casks chosen individually, cask-by-cask, to ensure perfect maturity. The whiskies are combined according to each recipe and returned to casks for marrying up to 24 months before bottling. Steps like these enhance complexity, flavour integration and soft mouthfeel. Extra steps, but we think they’re worth it.

Flavour Descriptors

On the palate, notes of clove and vanilla accent a sweet maltiness and subtle fruit character.
Recommendations Suitable as an aperitif served with a chilled water in the winter months. Full enough to serve as a summertime digestif. Excellent match for  many cheeses.
Distillery Sourcing Made entirely of Highland single malt whiskies from the villages of Brora (fruitiness), Carron (meatiness) and Alness (perfume).
Wood All the whiskies are aged for their primary maturation in a mix of American oak cask types. The marrying casks are a mix of first-fill Bourbon barrels and our proprietary “Oak Cross” casks made of American and new French oaks.
Bottling Details  Bottled at 43%. Natural colour. Not chill filtered.

What I say:

Oak Cross is from Compass Box’s range of 100% vatted single malt blends. These primarily consist of a mixture of 3 malts: ~60% Clynelish, ~20% Dailuaine and ~20% Teaninich, matured mostly in 1st fill and refill Bourbon casks (again ~9 to 11 years matured) this constitutes their “Naked” pure malt blend. This is then re-casked after belnding to marry in either old Bourbon casks or new Toasted French Oak casks and left for a further year to marry and further mature in their new casks before bottling.  The French Oak casks are sourced from the Vosges forest region in France. In the following image you will see a sample of Naked blend next to the refill Bourbon cask stave on the left and a Toasted French Oak sample next to a pieces of French Oak displaying 3 different char levels of toasting – note the colour in the “F” French Oak matured blend.

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Compass box initially experimented with toasted French oak staves or blocks that were dropped into the blend in its new Bourbon cask during the marrying year. Unfortunately the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) took exception to this and stopped the practice. Now Compass Box have the marrying casks remade so that they use a refill Bourbon barrel with Toasted French Oak cask ends to create a hybrid marrying cask.

Colour:

Full amber gold

Nose:

Apple, vanilla, oak wood, cereal barley malt

Taste:

Honey and golden syrup sweetness, butterscotch, highland toffee, clotted cream fudge, but very light (not cloying) on the palate

Finish:

Short, slightly spicy cinnamon