Compass Box is essentially a blended whisky producer. They source malt whisky and grain whisky from distilleries like an independent bottler would, then blend the distillates together and 'marry' or mature them further in casks, before bottling. They produce a number of different blended whiskies, including some controversial ones like 'Spice Tree', which was essentially ruled 'illegal' by the Scotch Whisky Association. See here for more details.
This 'Peat Monster' expression is stated as being 'made from a marriage of an Islay south shore malt, a peated malt, a peated malt from the Isle of Mull and a smoky Speyside malt'. The Isle of Mull component is obvious, as there is only one peated malt made on the Isle of Mull, which is Ledaig (pronounced 'le-chig'), made by Tobermory distillery, but the other three components are a bit of a mystery. A previous version of Peat Monster was known to contain substantial amounts of Caol Ila single malt, which could be the whisky alluded to with 'a peated malt', and I am confident in my belief that the 'south shore Islay malt' to be Ardbeg.
Whatever the ingredients, the resulting heavily-peated blend has been 'married together' in American oak, before being bottled at 46%, without added colour or chill filtration. Sounds good, doesn't it?
Compass Box 'The Peat Monster' blended / vatted malt, 46%, NAS, Scotland.
Non-chill filtered, no added colouring. A blend of four undisclosed peated single malts.
Colour: Pale gold
Nose: Pungent peat & coastal salty air, medicinal, some sweet & sour fruits, and toffee'd bananas. Very light on the smoke, but heavy on the peat.
Texture: Slightly creamy, clean & warming.
Taste: There's the smoke, but it leaves quickly without saying goodbye. That lovely sweet, coastal peat is in it for the long haul, though. A bit of vanilla sweetness and oak offset the boisterous, punchy peat.
Finish: Very long, and very peaty. Brine, oak, vanilla and apples. Mouth watering peat alternates between sweet and dry, and clings on until the very end.
Score: 4 out of 5 (blend score)
Notes: Although it lacks the complexity and balance of say, an Ardbeg 10yo, it's a very good 'peat monster' in it's own right. It's tied for the honour of being my favourite blended malt, neck-and-neck with 'Big Peat', another vatted malt / malt blend, but consisting of only Islay whiskies.
The Peat Monster is also priced similarly to the entry-level Islay single malts, giving Big Peat a bit of an early advantage, but it holds it's own regardless. I picked up my sample here, or it's widely available by the bottle at most on-line stores. Certainly worth giving it a go.
P.S: A pretty special whisky review coming next, I won't give it away, but let's just say it has matured in a cask for a quarter of a century, and was made on the isle of Skye... Stay tuned!