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Compass Box’s First Limited Edition for 2022 - Vellichor

What you need to know:

  • Compass Box’s first 2022 limited edition is the Vellichor - named after a term coined in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a quaint catalogue of new terms for obscure sensations.
  • The Vellichor has an aroma that captures the strange wistfulness of visiting cosy old second-hand bookstores.
  • It contains a blend of 23-year-old Macallan (12%), 25-year-old Highland Park (40%) and a very small portion of 37-year-old Caol Ila Distillery (4%). 
  • 44.6% ABV with a total outturn of 3,246 bottles. RRP of about £400 via Compass Box’s official website.
  • Official tasting notes below!
  • I’ve been a great fan of Compass Box, but I prefer not to overspend simply on account of one big name like Macallan. Yes, I am curious whether its aroma would evoke memories of flipping old tomes with yellowed pages, but I am just not curious enough to fork out GB £400.
  • Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Not

 

Vellichor 

(noun) 

1. The scent of second-hand bookstores. 

2. The strange wistfulness of second-hand bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time.

 

 

Compass Box makes its 2022 debut with a bottle that reminds us why they are one of the most imaginative and creative folks in the Scottish whisky industry.

They are known for their artistry, polish and highly unusual ways of creating their own blended whiskies (at times even earning the scorn of the Scotch Whisky Association). They are also credited as one of the most successful brands in the niche of premium blended whisky.

 

Compass Box has an impressively polished brand identity and very attractive bottle livery (Image Source: Whisky Monster)

 

Every year, Compass Box releases a couple of limited editions under very inventive and eye-catching names that really capture your imagination. There was “Tobias & The Angel”, “Ethereal”, “Orchard House” and “Hedonism” which as earned its place as a core range expression.

It all makes perfect sense after all when you consider that their founder, John Glaser, used to be Marketing Director of Johnnie Walker UK.

 

Read more about how Johnnie Walker’s Marketing Director broke free and came to start independent bottler Compass Box here.

 

This year, Glaser’s team leads with the Vellichor expression.

 

 

Vellichor almost sounds like a real word that has been with us for a long time. Yet is a relatively new term coined by John Koenig in his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows - a quaint catalogue of new terms seeking to capture obscure emotions and atmospheres that the English language does not yet have words for. These are words that we need but do not yet have.

Koenig calls “vellichor” the atmosphere one gets when they step into a cosy second-hand bookstore. Compass Box’s new expression interprets vellichor as a scent that captures this feeling and has a nostalgic aroma that is evocative of the smell of old books.

 

The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles (Image Source: Joe Leavenworth)

 

If this story doesn’t impress you, then consider that the Vellichor expression contains a blend from some highly sought-after distilleries. There’s 23-year-old malt from Macallan Distillery, 25-year-old malt from Highland Park Distillery and a very small portion of 37-year-old Caol Ila Distillery. Many have noted that it is quite rare to see big name distilleries such as Macallan and Highland Park in Scotch blends, not to mention whiskies of such ages! 

 

Constituent whiskies within the Vellichor blend.

 

A good portion of the expression - close to 40% - is made up of Highland Park that had been matured in recharred hogsheads. And Highland Park is known for its signature notes of burnt heather, smokiness and muskiness. It is this parcel of whisky that served the inspiration for the old-bookstore theme of the Vellichor expression. 

About 12% of the blend is the Macallan which was matured in a first-fill bourbon barrel, expected to lend to it a golden syrup sweetness and a rich oily texture. 

About 4% of the blend is very old Caol Ila that had been unsurprisingly matured in a refill hogshead to ensure gentler oak influence over a long period of maturation. This lends to the blend some maritime notes of oysters, coastal smoke and fruitiness of stewed red apples.

The remaining 45% of the blend are undisclosed Scotch whiskies that have matured for a long time in ex-Sherry butts. 

And of course, the Vellichor is said to spot a complex aroma that is highly evocative of the smell of old books.

 

Official Tasting Note

Nose

Hints of leather, polished furniture and the crackling dustiness of decades-old pages on the nose.
Palate
Waxy and oily texture stacked with sumptuous malty notes, tropical fruit and Sherry character, with a delicate but persistent peatiness. Leatheriness with grapes, dates, plum pudding and heavy cake mix. 

 

This is bottled at 44.6% ABV with a total outturn of 3,246 bottles. It is now available with a RRP of about £400 via Compass Box’s official website.

 

 

Our Take

Compass Box is one of those brands that continue to receive a lot of support despite the ever-increasing prices of their whiskies. We have previously observed that this is somewhat understandable since sourcing great casks is getting increasingly harder for independent bottlers, what with the rising global demand for single malts and the limited supply of well-aged stock. 

So we are not surprised that a blend that contains some really well-known names like Macallan, Highland Park and Caol Ila is now going for a RRP of a whopping GB £400 (US $ 550). What’dya expect when you see a blend with some Macallan inside? 

I can’t say I am not curious or intrigued by the presence of these malts within the Vellichor blend. I am also a fan of collecting vintage books. The old bookstore theme and the use of an old library as a metaphor for vintage whisky selection is a charming and creative touch. Who else would have come up with an expression like that other than Compass Box?

We have had lots of great experiences with Compass Box. However, here is where I draw a line. Yes, the quality is probably there. Yes, the age of the component whiskies is remarkable. I also understand it costs an arm and a leg these days to procure a cask of 20-something-year-old Macallan. 25-year-old core range Macallans for going for close to US $3,000 these days - John Glaser isn’t trying to fleece us.

Yet I personally prefer not to overspend on an expression simply on account of one big name like Macallan. There are plenty of other great Scotch distilleries out there so long as one takes the time to discover them. It also bears remembering that the Macallan prestige only extends to about 12% of the blend. I am curious whether its aroma would indeed evoke memories of my time in law school researching old tomes with yellowed pages, but I am just not curious enough to fork out GB £400. 

 

Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Not

 

@charsiucharlie

 

 

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