It’s Back. But Legal.

Months ago I alluded that John would be resurrecting his Spice Tree Whisky. That time is now.

If you are new to the world of Whisky you may be saying “The Spice Tree“? What the hell is that?

Read my original Story on The Spice Tree: The Spice of Life (October 2005)

The original Spice Tree created quite a following due to its flavour profile, so after the Scotch Whisky Association forced us to stop making it, I was determined to find a more “acceptable” way to achieve the same style,” explains whiskymaker John Glaser. “It’s taken almost four years, but we’ve done it.

To learn about the issues the SWA had with the whisky, read Downfall of Civilization??? (January 2006).

A s a result, Compass Box was forced to discontinue production under a legal threat by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) for their pioneering use of the highest quality French oak inner staves. This, despite rave reviews from consumers, trade and press. They agreed to disagree with the SWA and halted production.

The Spice Tree was finally forced off the market and I had my final say in July 2006 in The Spice Tree Issue.

I still hoard 2 bottle of the Inaugural Batch of the original Spice Tree.

Over the past three years John Glaser has developed a new maturation process which yields similar if not superior results to the previous method, and this new process is something the SWA can’t take any issue with.*

Might I add that the new packaging for the new Spice Tree is simply fucking lovely.

The Spice Tree is a 100% malt whisky from northern Highland distilleries, (notably and primarily malt whisky distilled at the Clynelish distillery). The whiskies are all a minimum of ten years-old, primarily from first-fill American oak casks, before being re-racked into bespoke barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads for up to two additional years.

The Spice Tree returns to market globally throughout this autumn with a recommended retail price of £35 per bottle in the United Kingdom.

Read more at The Compass Box site

*Rather than using inner stave inserts, as they did for the original Spice Tree, they rack the whisky into barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads. They have created a method for getting a super heavy toast on the cask heads which imparts a flavour profile similar to the flat staves used for the original Spice Tree. It is a similar technique used for their Oak Cross whisky, except the toasting is much heavier and the whisky stays on the wood much longer, up to two years.

Full disclosure. John Glaser is a personal friend of mine.

American ex-pat John Glaser started Compass Box Whisky Company from the kitchen of his west London home in 2000, after leaving his job as marketing director for Johnnie Walker in London. From the beginning, his vision has been to create one of Scotland’s finest and most exciting whisky companies, reestablishing the standards for quality and style in the industry.

Compass Box Whisky Company is a boutique whiskymaker that is one of the most award winning companies in Scotch whisky today. Their approach has yielded over 60 awards for quality and
innovation. Compass Box makes a range of whiskies sourced from many of Scotland’s best distilleries.

They assemble them in small batches, bottling them at their natural colour and free from chill filtering. In the UK the Compass Box whiskies includes Asyla, Oak Cross, The Peat Monster, Hedonsim and the whisky infusion, Orangerie. Compass Box whiskies are imported into the UK by Eaux de Vie.

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Comments (5)

  1. This is great news! Can’t wait to get a bottle. I couldn’t get hold of the orignal version, so I already sorta gave up on that one.

    Beating the SWA with their own weapons. Great!

  2. I had my first sip of the new batch last week. Absolutely fantastic. I’ll definitely picking up a bottle when it is available in the states.

  3. m.sajecki

    Cant wait to try the new version! Was lucky enough to purchase and save over a case of the “illegal” version to open on special occasions! Keep up the great work Compass Box!!

  4. Kevin Dixler

    I enjoyed the original Spice Tree, as well. I understand the rationale behind the SWA’s disappointment. The challenge with American Bourbon is that it has tried to avoid being as innovative, but for one distillery.

    If wood is a significant contributor to taste, then we hope that conceptions of bourbon are better developed to allow ‘more variations on that theme,’ as well. Will the infusions begin?

  5. Very keen to try this and well done to John Glaser for not letting the SWA get him down!

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