Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Compass Box. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
I’ll never forget the time I partook in a blending lab. I learned a lot about how even the slightest shift in a blend makes a big difference. Like how a lighter flavor profile whisky is used to create breathing room for a bolder whisky’s nuance. Blending is as much a science as it is an art form. And while you have labels like Hibiki really refining the blending process, you also have places like Compass Box pushing the art form as far as they can take it. In this review, I am looking at the 2022 release of Flaming Heart, a blended malt Scotch whisky from Compass Box.
Compass Box was started by John Glaser, an American working in Scotland. Compass Box was founded in the spirit of old Scotch blending houses with the goal of creating delicious whisky. Compass Box has been known to break with tradition a lot for its whisky, sometimes creating blends that don’t even qualify as whisky. Compass Box has also been known to produce some bottles that make statements on how Scotch labels are regulated, like their 3 Year Old Deluxe.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Compass Box’s beautiful labels that come from design firm Stranger and Stranger. While they do a lot of design work, I think it is safe to assume they have not done nearly as much work for any one company as they have for Compass Box. Compass Box has even released a bottle called Stranger and Stranger honoring their collaboration and celebrating a decade of working together. This collaboration allows Compass Box to have labels just as diverse as the blends they release.
Let us get to the whisky now. Flaming Heart Blended Malt Scotch Whisky is a special release from Compass Box that is on its seventh iteration. Each release is a unique blend with the same style in mind. This year’s blend uses ten component parts made of an unknown number of source whiskies, including remnants of their previous special releases. The heart of this whisky is made up of Laphroaig, Talisker, and Caol Ila. You can find a full breakdown of the blend here.
Flaming Heart was inspired by a song of the same name written by Portland artist M. Ward. Compass Box offers a playlist titled “FLAMING HEART. PLAY LOUD.” with which to listen to while you enjoy your whisky. And I will say there is certainly something to be said for what music is on when enjoying a drink, ambiance of a location can greatly change the experience of sipping on a whisky.
Tasting Notes: Compass Box Flaming Heart Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 2022
Vital Stats: 9,606 bottles produced. Bottled at 48.9% ABV with no added color and not chill-filtered. This is 100% malted barley blended from an unknown number of distilleries including Laphroaig, Talisker, Caol Ila, Highland Park, Glen Elgin, and Balmenach. SRP $155 per bottle.
Appearance: This is a light golden color. It forms a ring of tiny tears that take a long time to combine into some thick long legs.
Nose: The initial nose on this is peat and caramel apple. Trying to define the style of peat on this puts me somewhere between the smoke of a barbecue and petrichor, that subtly earthy smell of a first rainfall.
Palate: This starts off incredibly clean with a sweet citrus quality to it. It moves into a rich mid palate with some caramel, cinnamon, and black pepper with just a touch of that smoke starting to build. The finish really lets the peat take front stage while staying clean and only getting the slightest medicinal quality.