Compass Box “Oak Cross” (43%, OB, Circa 2006)

From the same period as “Asyla” (a blended Whisky), I reviewed back in 2015, comes this Blended Malt called “Oak Cross”. Blended Malt is the new expression for what we once called Vatted Malts. Two or more Single Malts, from different distilleries, blended together (so, without any Grain Whisky). Oak Cross is made from three Highland Single Malt Whiskies, yes, blended together to make this Blended Malt. I’ll let Compass Box themselves explain how they did it, since there is no way I could have put it better myself:

All [three] are aged [10 to 12 years] in [first fill] American oak casks before we place a portion [said to be 40%] into innovative hybrid casks [for up to 2 years] featuring heavily toasted new French oak heads [hence the name Oak Cross]. These give the whisky an added richness and spice-like complexity. By carefully blending back the French oak-aged whisky with its American oak-aged forebear, we are able to create a refined, rich, but well-mannered Malt Whisky, with fruity aspects that will remind you of baked apple or pears, complemented by a rich, toasty oak character.

By the way, the three Malts used for this “Blend” are 60% Clynelish (fruity), 20% Teaninich (for the smell of it) and 20% Dailuaine (the “meat” of it all).

Color: Light gold.

Nose: Young and rather perfumy (Teaninich). Friendly and light. Appetizing. Something works very well here. Fruity (Clynelish). Yellow fruits that is, more of the apples and pears kind of fruit. Very European so to speak as opposed to the exotic Indian spices we get from, well…Indian Whiskies. Cardboard, and paper, dusty notes from oak, almost like an old house. Warm apple compote. More sweet than acidic to be frank. This has a warming quality to it. Notes of vanilla pudding. and soft oak, almost boiled soft oak. Tiniest hint of burned wood (and hay), warm motor oil (Dailuaine) and finally some grassy green hints. Although I am quite familiar with Whiskies from American oak, this does have another twist to it, is it the French oak maybe, or is it the soft fruitiness this shows. Nice, whatever it is.

Taste: Quite sweet on entry and again very friendly but also a bit thin, apart from the sugary feel that is. Nice and very approachable. No off-notes (hint of plastic, and ever so slightly soapy, but these don’t hurt the end-result a bit), and the sweetness never gets to that, annoying, cloying-level. Fruity yes, but harder to analyze than it was from the nose. Not so apply and peary as the nose. Maybe the sweetness is masking it? Fruity appetizing body, with a nice warming finish and enough staying power.

The sweetness makes this approachable and likeable, and is probably marketed towards people who are new to (Single Malt) Whisky. This may have it all, it seems young, but acceptable, therefore also quite inexpensive, well made, soft and friendly.

Points: 80

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Nikka Pure Malt Black ‘Smoky and Mellow’ (43%, OB, 50 cl, 08J12C)

Well yes, why not have a go at another Japanese Whisky. This time a true Pure Malt or Blended Malt. It is not very hard to guess from which distilleries the Whiskies originate that make up this Blended Malt. Yes you’ve guessed it: Yoichi (for the peat) and Miyagikyo (for the fruit). Black is one out of a series of three. The other two are Red (predominantly Miyagikyo, Rounded and Smooth) and White (predominantly Yoichi, Smoky and Peaty). Red is supposed to be blended with Malt Whisky from Scotland, as White is supposed to be blended with peated Whisky from Islay.

Nikka Pure Malt BlackColor: Light orange gold

Nose: Lots of vanilla, smoke from burning of branches with leaves and a lot of moisture. Also some red fruits. Fat peat and custard. Excellent combination. Children’s clay, strong and spicy wood. When given the time to breathe the nose stabilizes. Seems like young Whisky to me.

Taste: Vanilla with a peppery attack, transforming into a Whisky from a Cream Sherry cask. Hard fruity candy. Full, likeable and strong flavor for instant gratification. Actually not very refined. Not bad, but like the Akashi reviewed earlier, the finish is not the strongest point of this Japanese Whisky. Some kind of peppery heat (smoke) stays on the roof of my mouth, but at the same time you have a pretty short finish down my throat. Curious. There is a fruity sugar-water coating that stays behind in the mouth. Needs air to develop.

It seems to me this product is made with a lot of young Whisky from first fill casks. First refills are needed for longer maturation to make a better Whisky. Interesting. As I said before. Whisky not for analyzing and to fuss over. Just sit back and enjoy. It will grow on you. Probably also good Whisky for cocktails!

Points: 82