14 Sep 2016
If you know anything about scotch grain whiskey, you probably know the lack of grain whiskey is what makes single malts so sought-after.
Put another way: Grain whiskey is the less flavorful filler that is blended with single malt to make blended whiskies like Dewar’s, Bells, Johnnie Walker, Cutty Sark, and Chivas Regal, which make up 90 percent of all scotch whiskey sold.
For the most part, that characterization is correct, as most grain whiskey is aged only a few years and then blended with single malt to make blended whiskey. And yet, what if instead grain whiskey was left to age properly, perhaps even for decades? How would it taste?
The answer is found in Compass Box’s Hedonism Quindecimus, which is certainly one of the most unique whiskeys I’ve ever tasted. To celebrate the company’s 15th anniverary, they created a blend of grain whiskies, all of which are at least 20 years old.
The Compass Box website can no longer legally disclose the components of this blend due to some ridiculous rules. But, fortunately, we know what makes up this unique blend:
- 17.6% North British 20-year-old from first-fill American standard barrels
- 36.6% Port Dundas 25-year-old from rejuvenated hogsheads
- 8.4% Dumbarton 28-year-old from American standard barrels
- 19.4% Port Dundas 20-year-old from first-fill American standard barrels
- 18% 32-year-old Loch Lomond mystery blended grain from American standard barrels
The resulting whiskey is bottled at 92-proof, with just 5,689 bottles made. Expect to pay $125 to $180, if you can find it.
The nose is quite light with hay, honey, shortbread, and floral notes. On the palate, the immense depth and complexity reveals itself with lemon cake, creaminess, tea, custard, light oak, and citrus. It’s the kind of flavor you want to let linger as long as possible. The finish is clean and elegant with more creaminess, cake batter, and light spice.
Considering the price, this isn’t a whisky for everyone. But I don’t think it was ever meant to be for most people. It’s an extraordinary experiment in what a grain whiskey can be in the right hands. Single malt fans should jump at the opportunity to try a glass if they find it on the menu.
The complex flavors go well with a cigar, but it takes a milder smoke to not overwhelm the Hedonism Quindecimus. Try an Ashton Classic, Davidoff Grand Cru, Illusione Epernay, or Paul Garmirian Gourmet.
photo credit: Stogie Guys