Today I want to do a review on something special, a whiskey that is rich in both taste and story. Introducing, the Spice Tree Extravaganza. However, before jumping into the actual review, it would be rude of me if I don’t mention the controversies and legal hurdles Compass Box had to overcome before releasing the Spice Tree.
In 2006, The SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) forced Compass Box founder John Glaser to pull his original Spice Tree Vatted Malt off the market. The association thinks that the attempt to use French Oak staves inside barrels in order to bring a richer flavor is a violation against ‘traditional practices.’ Moreover, in 2015 the SWA accused John Glaser of being ‘too transparent’ his then latest blend “THIS IS NOT A LUXURY WHISKY”. On the bottle, John stated everything, including the source of every whiskey he used to make this blend.
The SWA legal affairs chief Magnus Cormack claimed that such act is a violation against the Scotch Whisky Act and European Union laws, as this is considered ‘third party advertising.’ Even though the SWA has no power to enforce the law on its own, they had threatened producers with possible legal action in the past.
In an interview with Scotch Whisky, it was clear that John was unhappy and very frustrated about the situation. He mentioned that companies’ failure to provide consumers with a clear answer to “what was in the blend”, will only “make consumers skeptical” and hurt the industry over time.
John Glaser’s aim is clear and simple, it is to provide the best for the customers, including fulfilling their rights to understand what they are consuming. Perhaps to the SWA, traditional value trumps everything.
Despite all the controversies, if customers are curious about what is in the rest of the blend, just contact Compass Box directly. The company will be more than happy to answer you, sparing no details.
Findings in Spice Tree Extravaganza
First of all, really amazing artwork on the bottle, kudos to the illustrator because the artwork is one of the reasons on how I discovered this whiskey.
Nose: sweet berries and rich fruit note, I am getting raspberry, to be precise. You can smell the presence of sherry, however, it is not overpowering. Smells creamy, like roasted brown sugar but slightly burnt.
Palate: Oh it’s spicy, it is unexpectedly spicy. The taste of the rich dark roasted brown sugar as the nose suggested. Also, the oakiness is really prominent, to a point where it tastes somewhat bitter. A strong but not overly dark fruit note. The dram gives an oily mouthfeel, a saturated taste and contains a heavier barrel note and a tad bit more intense compared to the classic one.
Finish: Nice finish, the aforementioned oily mouthfeel is long-lasting. The dram doesn’t burn at all, it spreads evenly in your mouth as it does not concentrate on any part, in particular. The fruitiness and the oaky-bitterness are well balanced, nothing is overpowering anything, every note was expressed in harmony.
For some reason I feel like the Spice Tree Extravaganza is more oaky than spicy, despite it being named Spice Tree. Nevertheless, I really like it, it’s a holiday dram! It is welcoming and makes you warm and happy. Another win for Mr. John Glaser.
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