I recently did a review of High West Campfire. High West has a distillery, but currently most of it's products are purchased and blended. Compass Box has been doing a similar thing in the most famous home of whisky, Scotland, for over a decade. This is a review of their Oak Cross.
Oak Cross is a blend, or vatting, of Highland single malt (vatting bc/ they are all single malts, no neutral grain whisky in this one). The box notes that the malts are sourced from the "villages of Brora, Alness, and Carron." The Dalmore is one single malt distilled in Alness, but Compass Box is not noting any specific whiskies on the packaging. Ostensibly, Compass Box is getting these whiskies after their primary aging period in first fill and second fill American Oak. They then "marry" the whiskies in special casks that they have had made with French oak heads on American oak casks. The French oak comes from a small mill in France known for its cooperage oak (according to the Compass Box fact sheet). Two oaks, hence the name. I got this on sale for about $45 bucks, it's 86 proof. Let's see what we've got.
Color/Nose: You can probably see in the picture this one is incredibly light in color. The nose carries some heft, though. I get a lot of fruit, like pears drizzled with honey. Maybe the faintest of peat smoke? Not sure to what degree any of these malts are peated.
Taste/Finish: Malty, sweet, and juicy. More of the fruit hinted at on the nose. A fair amount of spice mid to late palate, which is either providing or accompanying some burn. The box says "notes of cloves and vanilla," and you do get some vanilla, though not the punch of it you get with many bourbons. As light and low proof as this is, the finish is strong and lingers. Overall the whisky has a nice round mouthfeel. It feels rich. I know the sourced whisky is from the highlands but this reminds me of Glenkinchie (lowlands); it's light yet brisk and flavorful.
Value/Intangible: When I drink scotch, I usually want a heavy dose of peat. With any drink, the thing I value the most is flavor, and lots of it. Though this one is light and delicate, it doesn't lack in flavor, and offers something a bit on the unique side. I'd say it was well worth the cost. In the end this is likely a one time purchase for me. I've wanted to try something from Compass Box for a while, and I may yet try their other entries. But while this was a good pour, it doesn't blow me away to the point where I will be depressed when the bottle is empty. The website says it pairs well with many cheeses, which makes sense due to the fruity profile. I'm having it with a snack of a soft rind French cheese (the name escapes me), and it's indeed a pleasant pairing.
My apologies for any mistakes in this post, Blogger was having some glitches. Cheers!