It’s been a while since Compass Box graced the pages of Words of Whisky — over three years actually. But this blending house now makes a return to my blog with the Compass Box Canvas Blended Malt, another curious concoction that is selectively finished in ex-Vino Naranja barrels for three years.
Vino Naranja is a Spanish fortified wine that I hadn’t heard of before reading up on the Compass Box Canvas. It literally translates to ‘orange wine’ but is not to be confused with actual orange wine, which is a traditional skin-macerated white wine and something different entirely.
Instead, Vino Naranja has a designated appellation in Spain and is a flavoured wine macerated with actual orange peels. It is produced with a base wine made exclusively from products of the Condado de Huelva appellation. The orange peels macerate for at least six months and must comprise a minimum of 200 grams of dried orange peels per liter. Aging of Vino Naranja is typically done in a solera system, which should be familiar to whisky drinkers who have read up on production of sherry wines.
If you’ve come this far, you’re probably interested in the recipe for the Compass Box Canvas. They always share this on the product pages on the Compass Box website, but omit the ages, since they’re not allowed to mention them under European law. However, it seems as if they found a nice workaround. Quick disclaimer: they might have been doing this for a while, but again, I haven’t really been keeping tabs on Compass Box for the last few years.
The fact sheet for the Compass Box Canvas includes a circle graph that looks like a sawed-in-half tree. Each ring seems to indicate the age of a certain component. Now, this is my understanding of the graph and it wasn’t fully confirmed by Compass Box, but it also wasn’t denied. So, if I’m correct, this is the full recipe for the Compas Box Canvas.
6.1% Imperial 24-years from a first-fill bourbon barrel
43.4% Tomatin 13-years from a refill bourbon barrel
24.2% Glenburgie 14-years from a first-fill bourbon barrel
15.4% Glen Elgin 18-years from a re-charred American oak hogshead
10.9% Tomatin 13-years finished in a Vino Naranja barrel for 3 years
In short, very bourbon forward with a limited infusion of that Vino Naranja matured Tomatin. At the very least an interesting recipe from their lead whiskymaker James Saxon, that’s for sure. A total of 5,880 bottles were released.
Nose: Vanilla custard, sweet banana and floral notes to kick things off, followed by beeswax, butter cookies and a large sprinkle of orange zest. Taste: Lovely creamy mouthfeel with touches of peach, honey and lemon, but also a whiff of nutmeg and black pepper. Finish: Lingering oak spices with a touch of vanilla sweetness. Medium in length.
Not the best I've had from Compass Box, the Canvas could do with some more depth and interest. Personally I'm not a fan of the spiciness on the palate, but overall it is a decent whisky.