The whisky world is nothing short of a mystery, a vast expanse of knowledge, process and tradition hidden under the garb of trade secrets and cut throat competition. Information divulged is usually very bare bone with much left to one’s own imagination. The exception to this being an independent bottler – The Compass Box, born with the zest of keeping things crystal. They’re synonymous with transparency and are willing to divulge more than others would ever. And should you have the desire to know, all you need to do is ask!
John Glaser had begun his early years studying wine with the intent to make the red juice. And in this pursuit, he travelled to France and California to take up this interest. It was during this journey that he got the opportunity to work at Johnnie Walker’s marketing division. And it was his many visits to Scotland that had him drawn to the golden spirit.
The Peat Monster is a blended malt from the Compas Box Stables; proportions for which have varied a bit across batches. The major constituents of this blend still remain the Islay greats – Caol Ila and Laphroaig, both matured in refill hogshead barrels. Ledaig, from the Isle of Mull and Ardmore the peated highland whisky, are also matured in refill hogsheads and take up lesser concentrations. The least of proportions, a percent, is a combination of Highland malts – Clynelish(60%), Teanninich(20%) and Dailuaine (20%) that are married in heavily toasted French Oak casks for an additional two years.
The bottle is distinct and modern, with a rather bold name and an even more unorthodox illustration on the labelling. Having said that, it is very evident that John takes great pride and care in choosing the right name for each of his expressions, each either born out of a story, or a vision. Turn the bottle 180 and you shall see…
ABV : 46%
Eye: Pale Gold – Non Chill filtered with no artificial colouring.
Nose: Seaweed and brine with a gleam of vanilla, drops of honey, citrus, apples and peat. Milk chocolate, sun dried tomatoes, wood and char are followed by the fruitiness of melons layered with white pepper and ginger peels.
Taste: Rich, buttery and creamy at first with a sliver of vanilla echoing in the shadows. Moist wood and the accompanying earthiness is somehow constrained on the palate, with the sweetness emanating from slices of cantaloupe, tossed with peaches and pineapples, sprinkled with coconut shavings. Honey, orange peels, custard, spice and nutmeg add yet another layer to the profile and also taper towards the finish.
Finish: Medium | Tropical sweetness, caramel and earth with a hint of spice.
At 46%, the spirit isn’t abrasive and hence I wouldn’t really advice adding water or ice. The Peat Monster falls short of its name, surely missing the mark in terms of being ‘peat almighty’. However, having said that it is in no way feeble and comes laden with monstrous flavours. The whisky is a wonderful fusion of sweetness from the tropical fruits, peaty and earthy flavours of the sea and a restrained spicy profile that lingers around softly within the insides of your mouth. This to me is exactly what the distillers intended to bring to the table – a monstrously balanced beauty.
John Glaser’s methods to blending might be unorthodox, and many in fact influenced from his learnings while making wine; some of which have been contested vehemently by the SWA; but that really hasn’t nor ever will stop him from improvising or introducing expressions that will continue to garner a lot of success!
At $75, The Peat Monster is a BUY!