Oak Cross Scotch Whisky Review
Compass Box Oak Cross
Malt Scotch Whisky
Imported from Scotland by WyattZier
86 Proof (43% ABV)
Typical Price: About $50 for 750ml
We really and truly have dug all of the Compass Box whiskies we've tried, from the Asyla right down to the Peat Monster. We typically find them to be extremely tasty, and the company doesn't fall into the hoity toity view a lot of people have about Scotch. They seem down to earth, they make a good product, and they like to experiment - how can you go wrong?
Their latest creation we've had a chance to try is Oak Cross, so named because the barrels it's aged in are a cross between American and French oaks. Was the effort of marrying American and French worth it? We think so. Read on to find out why.
The Oak Cross bottle itself fits in well with the rest of the Compass Box line, in a tall, slender clear glass bottle. The logo looks like a stylized Celtic Knot of some kind, which stirred up our Highland blood a bit when we saw it. The Scotch itself had a light amber color.
Our first thought when we took a whiff of Oak Cross was that it smelled more Irish than Scotch, and we mean that in a good way. Gone were the thick peatiness and slightly acrid tang we associate with Scotch - instead we smelled fruit and cloves and...could it be...vanilla? Yup, there it was, right on the label, vanilla. The vanilla was attributed to the American bourbon casks it was aged in, and we welcomed it.
We'll come right out and say we're much bigger Bourbon drinkers than we are Scotch-heads, so we liked the smooth, vanilla and dried fruit taste of Oak Cross. If you're looking peat you're in the wrong place - this unlikely collaboration between America and France is on the sweeter side, though we're not talking liqueur sweet. Overall the taste was complex without being overwhelming, and we see this as a Scotch that could win over non-Scotch-drinkers. While Oak Cross would make for some great cocktails we liked it best sipped with just a splash of cold water.
Sometimes the unexpected is good, and we definitely didn't expect to find a Scotch that appealed to the Bourbon drinker in us. We motored through our review bottle in record time because we thought it was just that good. Compass Box has shown us once again they can make Scotch for the drink's enthusiasts as well as those who aren't quite as sure as well.
It's a good value for the price, and you can show off how knowledgeable you are about oak by talking about the bourbon barrels and the oak heads. You'll either impress your friends or bore the hell out of 'em, but at least you'll be drinking a damn fine Scotch.
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Posted by Jake Jamieson at January 16, 2007 6:50 AM