This is a blend of some seriously old scotch, (and I love me some old scotch), with a price tag to match ($250 or so. Eek!). The specs are spot-on. Compass Box was kind enough to tell us EXACTLY what’s in this whisky….
Flaming Heart Fifth Edition is a Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (meaning it consists of malt from different distilleries, but no grain whisky)…. The goal of Flaming Heart has always been to showcase Compass Box’s hybrid barrels with new French oak heads in balance with quality Islay peated malts. This 15th anniversary edition kicks up that formula with some older Caol Ila.
This special release is a blend of grain from four distilleries of various ages, none of which are younger than 20, and all of which aged in ex-bourbon American oak casks. The result is bottled at 46% ABV with no added color and no chill filtration.
Turns out I wasn’t 100% off, as the sample turned out to be Té Bheag (pronounced ‘chey vek’), a blended scotch with a big peated malt component made by Pràban na Linne Ltd. on the Isle of Skye.
The Creative Whisky Company – independent bottlers responsible for the range of bottlings under The Exclusive Malts brand, released this blended whisky containing 80% malt and 20% grain whisky, which is an exceedingly high malt-to-grain ratio.
Until then the company is selling sourced and finished whiskies such as this one, a rum-finished Irish whiskey of unknown origin. It is a blend, with 35% malt and 65% grain aged somewhere between 4 and 7 years. The vatted blend is then finished for 4 to 6 months in Flor de Caña rum casks, an unusual touch.
I’m particularly impressed with the interplay of sherry notes (which are fleeting) with peat notes (which are understated but dominant), without the two ever conflicting. I’ve had $80 peated malts finished in sherry casks that didn’t integrate half as well.
The clean, crisp notes of peach and white grapes carry through from nose to finish, never allowing the peat to dominate. Masterfully blended – a truly excellent example of skilled blending and what it can accomplish.
There’s something I like about a little miniature bottle of a cheap blended scotch. It has so much promise. Might this be the next old-school gem from the days when blended scotch was what everyone drank? And then I open it and I find more or less the same thing. Too much grain. too little flavor. Sigh.
I read this sort of thing frequently in blogs and from the mouths of whisky evangelists: “Blended whisky can be cheap, just like any stereotype can be true from time to time, but you can’t go around generalizing like that.” I’d like to offer a counterpoint.