In 2003, Compass Box composed a store exclusive for Park Avenue Liquor in New York. The peated release was quickly dubbed a “monster” and Peat Monster was put on general release the next year. It became a cornerstone release.
For the 20th anniversary of this peated blended malt, Compass Box now releases Peat Monster Cask Strength. Two thirds of the components aged in toasted and lightly charred, virgin American oak barrels to highlight the symbiosis between Scotland and America. The barrels moved to Scotland and got seasoned with grain spirit for a year.
Different recipes are used for Peat Monster releases (check Peat Monster Arcana for instance). Here the recipe is 64% Caol Ila (refill hogsheads, bourbon barrels and refill puncheons), 35% Williamson (refill hogsheads) and just a dash of their proprietary Highland Malt blend (French oak barrels).
Compass Box Peat Monster Cask Strength: Origin Story (56,7%, OB 2023, 9126 btl.)
Nose: classic Caol Ila alright, with a slightly bigger medicinal side. Hints of vanilla and smouldering barbecue smoke. Then a lot of fresh lemon juice, green apples, as well as refreshing mint leaves. A little white pepper. Clean, with mostly the bourbon wood coming out. Rather sophisticated as well, it doesn’t scream cask strength so far.
Mouth: now the punch is more apparent. Sweet lemon notes, leading to lemon peels and an edge of grapefruit bitterness. Some green leafy and vegetal notes, with a savoury hint of seaweed. Then crush black peppercorns and vanilla, as well as smoked almond and a tarry note towards the end.
Finish: long, still rather tarry, mixed with lemon and lingering smoke.
A nice composition, only adding a few brush strokes to a Caol Ila painting. I’m not particularly fond of the vegetal edge on the palate, but overall this adds the necessary punch that Islay fans are fond of. Available from The Whisky Exchange or TyndrumWhisky for instance.