Never has a whisky without a name been so eagerly awaited. We have been waiting for two years already.
For peat lovers, here is finally the 3rd (and unfortunately last) volume of the NO NAME series from COMPASS BOX.
After the NO NAME in 2017 cleverly composed by John Glaser himself, and the NO NAME N°2 composed in 2019 by Jilian Boyd (two blends that I proposed you to compare here), it is now to James Saxon (arrived at COMPASS BOX in 2019) that the heavy task of closing the series and putting a last peaty blow has been entrusted.
We're not kidding about the hazing at Compass Box. "Here, new guy, let's see what you can do, make us a NO NAME different from the other two!". We'll see below that the result is not bad at all!
If we briefly recall the NONAME, the principle is simple: to propose a different peat panel from one copy to another.
Composed mainly of Islay whiskies such as ARDBEG and CAOL ILA, the first NO NAME had a thick and robust peaty tendency. Its successor, the multi-islander No. 2, was more fruity with CAOL ILA in sherry-butt and TALISKER (from the Isle of Skye).
This time, John Glaser's team has announced an older and more authentic distillate than its predecessors.
To make it, James Saxon chose distillates mostly from Islay and aged for more than 15 years.
He takes us on a journey to Islay with a marine distillate from LAPHROIG (aged 15 years in hogshead) for ¾ of the composition, and a fruity and "exotic" BOWMORE (aged 18 years in ex-bourbon casks).
To counterbalance the sea spray and smoke, he then takes us to the SPEYSIDE with an 18 year old MORTLACH distillate and then to the HIGHLANDS with, on the one hand, a CLYNELISH distillate (having spent 17 years in sherry butt) and, on the other hand, a blend (of which only James has the secret), aged for 13 years in toasted French oak barrels.
On paper, the old pink bottle should offer us a distillate as smoky as the original NONAME and even more fruity than No Name No. 2.
What about this light golden whisky?
From afar the peat calls you! Come on, come on!
Islay is clearly in the glass. Be careful if peat scares you, but if you like it... you will be in heaven.
At the first passage, clearly a thick and sweet peat. We clearly recognize the Laphroaig touch (hey yours truly is a FoL who assumes it). It throws us directly in front of the hearth of an old Islay house! A mixture of thick but fresh smoke and barn smell that makes the charm of Islay whiskies. The peat here is marine with a background of sea air, it will be almost camphorated.
On the second pass, the smell will become rounder and slightly sweeter and will go towards fruitier notes of peach and pineapple, with perhaps a BOWMORE which makes its appearance (more fruity and peat much more in the background). But I reassure you that the peat has not gone far and remains very present.
The smell of barn is increased at the third passage as if the doors had closed (masking the sea air) and that only the earthy side remained present (perhaps the distillates coming from the continent?). The last aromas will be much more discreet and the peat that has come to line your nose finally leaves more room for other lighter smells.
In the palm of your hand, the smell of smoke is still present, but this time it is not accompanied by the smell of tyres, but more by the smell of roasted cocoa beans.
The entry in mouth is fresh and fruity (very ripe fruits). After a few seconds, peppery spices develop, increase and, like a parabolic curve, descend to become vinous notes. The sensation then thickens again with more pastry notes.
The freshness of an Islay peat is retained as a hint of peaty and salty sensation comes out all at once. But the whisky remains thick and woody (perhaps the predominance of the hogshead cask).
The finish is long on the last pastry notes that we had at the end of the tasting. There is still a hint of sea air as we breathe in with our mouths wide open.
It's always a heartbreak to see an empty glass. But there are always wonderful aromas left. Especially with a peaty whisky like NO NAME 3. Here you will obviously keep all the sweetness of the peat smell but you will also find a rather pronounced lemon smell.
When you think that this could be the last one of the series ...., it almost brings a tear to your eye! Come on John...more!!!