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This Is Not a Luxury Whisky: how Compass Box describes its latest release

Published:  24 September, 2015

 Luxury whisky blender Compass Box is to release a limited edition Scotch inspired by a 1929 surrealist artwork.

Luxury whisky blender Compass Box is to release a limited edition Scotch inspired by a 1929 surrealist artwork.

This Is Not a Luxury Whisky takes its cue from Belgian artist René Magritte's conceptual piece The Treachery of Images, a picture of a smoker's pipe with the caption "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" ["This is not a pipe"].

Compass Box founder John Glaser said: "The idea with this bottling is to challenge people's perceptions about what represents a luxury whisky - or, put another way, a whisky worth paying a lot of money for.

"Over recent years, we've seen a growing trend in the Scotch industry towards super-premium releases that position Scotch whiskies as luxury goods or status symbols to be displayed and traded, rather than as liquids to be consumed and enjoyed.

"As whiskymakers, we wanted to release a product that would encourage people to question what it is that makes a luxury whisky a luxury."

The whisky is a blend of 19-year-old Glen Ord malt, 30-year-old Caol Ila and 40-year-old grain whisky from Girvan and Strathclyde.

It will have what is almost certainly be a luxury rrp of £150 a bottle when it goes on sale on October 15.

Only 4,992 bottles will be produced and it comes at a cask strength 53.1% abv.

Glaser added: "Similar to what Magritte did with his painting of a pipe that claimed it was not a pipe, we wanted to see what would happen if we put a rare, old, expensive liquid in an explicitly non-luxury container.

"As whiskymakers, when we say luxury what we're talking about is the liquid, the flavour, the experience of enjoying the whisky.

"Late last year we came across a parcel of astoundingly good casks of malt whisky from the Glen Ord distillery: sherry butts, distilled almost 20 years ago.

"We fell in love with them immediately, secured every cask available in the parcel, then set to work blending them with other whiskies to help us create something even more compelling.

"After months of development, the resulting blend was opulent, lingering, complex - and we've bottled it at natural cask strength so people can experience the full concentration of the whisky's flavours.

"Everyone's definition of luxury is different, but for us - as whiskymakers - this is about as close as it gets."

Compass Box also has a new release of its limited edition Flaming Heart, first made in 2006, to mark the company's 15th anniversary.

The whisky is a blend of 30 year-old and 14-year-old Islay malts from Caol Ila, 20 year-old Highland malt from Clynelish and some blended Highland malt aged in new French oak.

"We wanted to revisit a classic Compass Box style without simply replaying it," said Glaser.

"The whiskies we've used for this release hold true to the original concept of Flaming Heart but are significantly older than any we've ever used for this whisky before.

"Age does not mean everything, but in this case, given the whiskies we've sourced, it adds depth, complexity, and richness and has allowed us to create something really special for our 15th anniversary."

The Flaming Heart rrp will be £100.