compass box hedonism limited annual release 2024

Compass Box Hedonism (2024)

The trailblazing Compass Box Hedonism was first launched at the turn of the millennium. A staple of the blending house’s core range, Compass Box Hedonism has now graduated to become an annual release. The 2024 edition consists of well-aged grain whiskies (15 to 26 years old) matured in ex-bourbon casks.

Almost everything has been done before. In most cases, we can only strive to do things better than our predecessors. Even 25 years ago there weren’t many firsts left. However, there still were some. For example, nobody had ever released a blended grain whisky before. Until founder John Glaser came up with the Compass Box Hedonism, the company’s first-ever release.

John Glaser Compass Box 2

Such a ballsy move! Reactions at the time were mixed. England was slower to warm to Glaser’s approach. “I got more of, ‘is this some marketing gimmick? What’s going on with this label that has a picture of a woman’s head with all this stuff coming out of it? What’s going on?’”

The Scots, apparently, were more open-minded. Maybe in part because whisky wasn’t doing as well at the time. “We’ll take anybody, even an American who’s trying to create something different with a sincere, unique approach to Scotch whisky, and integrity in terms of quality,” said Glaser.

The news earlier this year that Glaser stepped down from Compass Box wasn’t the biggest surprise. A new CEO had already been named in 2022. In the same year, investment group Caelum Capital took a majority stake in Compass Box. And whisky maker James Saxon (now the new whisky making director) was quickly becoming more influential on the blending side of things.

There are not many people who can truly claim to be a pioneer, but John Glaser is one of them. He added a new dimension to Scotch whisky and fought for transparency. Most importantly, Glaser gave us some utterly delicious whiskies.

compass box hedonism limited annual release 2024 review

Compass Box Hedonism Limited Annual Release 2024 (43%, Compass Box, 7746 bts.)

Nose: Classic grain whisky. Sweet and velvety. Vanilla, melted butter, popcorn and a touch of honeyed porridge. Also touches of white chocolate and butterscotch, as well as a tinge of preserved lemons. Just a hint of varnish.
Taste: Immediately notes of fudge, a pinch of white pepper, some wood glue and charred oak. Of course, there’s vanilla, but also resin, tea leaves and something slightly herbacious.
Finish: Medium length with peppery spices, butter and orange pith.

I like the idea of the Compass Box Hedonism more than I like the reality. And that's not really a surprise. I'm not partial to grain whisky anyway, so why would this be an exception? You get all the traditional markers (vanilla, butterscotch, fudge), but it's also slightly harsh and bitter at times.

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