Flaming Heart 2015 - Compass Box Whisky Review


6/10 - Not my thing

Description: If you like the oak bomb and smoky old library book taste of old bourbons and the sweet peat of Islay, this is an excellent combination of the two. It’s very powerful stuff. But I’m not a huge bourbon drinker and wish there wasn’t the dryness of soot on the back palette.

This whisky gets rave reviews. As a peaty Islay lover, I expected to love it. So when I first tried it, I think I set my expectations too high and was baffled. I tried again several times since then, and while it is growing on me, my initial thoughts (captured below) were not favorable.

Compass Box Flaming Heart 2015


Overall: The nose is lovely and misleading - it smells like grilled fruits and dried peaches. But the first sip is instantly a pop of peat, cloves, and smoke, with underlying vanilla and fruit notes. The end is what I have difficulty with: it fades into a pucker of library books and dry pencil shavings, which then turns the sweetness to taste a bit like peach Splenda.

It puzzled me at first why I could not bring myself to like this whisky. I love Islay and the majority of the 15th anniversary (2015) edition of Flaming Heart is Caol Ila (38.5% 14 year Caol Ila and 27.1% 30 year old Caol Ila, to be exact). I suspect it has to do with the new oak that is not my flavor profile of choice, it leaves as lingering dusty heat at the back of my throat. Water brought out more nectarine and licorice notes for me. I liked it far better with the addition of water.


Fun facts:

  • Was in trouble with the Scotch Whisky Association for declaring the exact composition of the whisky blend. It is comprised of: 38.5% 14 year old Caol Ila (refill American hogshead), 27.1% 30 year old Caol Ila (refill American hogshead), 24.1% Clynelish (rejuvenated American hogshead, in which the process of rejuvenation involves milling out the inner portion to expose new oak), and 10.3% blend of Clynelish, Teaninch, and Daluaine in “highly active” new French oak.

  • Compass Box the company was named after the hand-made crafted and carved wood boxes that held ship’s compasses

  • Founded by John Glaser, who was the marketing director at Johnny Walker