This is by far the peatiest blend ever produced by Compass Box. The intriguingly-named ‘No Name’ should capture the imagination of whiskey lovers everywhere–that is, if they could get their hands on a bottle!
Like the best spirits, No Name is available in a limited run of only 15,000, with the first batch produced in the fall of 2017. Flavor characteristics aside, this relative scarcity will likely boost the mystique of this blend somewhat. It is also a bit more expensive than your average whiskey, which should push it even further out of reach of many drinkers.
As to the whiskey itself, the peatiness is undeniably its most prominent flavor characteristic. It consists of 75.5% Ardbeg, the celebrated Pier Road Islay malt whiskey, aged in re-charged American standard barrels. This ingredient is perhaps the main reason for No Name’s intense and distinctive flavor palette.
No Name also contains 10.6% Caol Iha from Port Askaig and 13.4% Clynelish from the Brora distillery in the northern Highlands.
The resulting blend is aged in re-charged hogshead, with a further 0.5% Highland Malt whiskey added to the mix. This malt blend contains 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine, and 20% Teaninich, and is aged in a French hybrid cask. Unlike many other whiskeys, No Name is not subjected to chill-filtering, and it retains its natural color.
No Name Compass Box contains 48.9% alcohol by volume (ABV).
- Region: Scotland
- Distillery: Compass Box
- Blend: Ardbeg (75.5%), Caol Ila (10.6%), Clynelish (13.4%), “Highland Malt” (0.5%) Cask: Re-charred ex-bourbon, refill ex-bourbon, re-charred hogshead, heavy toast French oak hybrid
- Age: NAS
- ABV: 48.9%
No Name is one of those whiskeys that make a striking impression at first glance. The bottle itself is aesthetically pleasing, with a classy “black-on-black” motif combined with a gold leaflet that gives it a truly elegant appearance. The cork is wax-coated, which further adds to its high-end feel. And like all Ardbeg whiskeys, it has that mellow golden color that most drinkers will find positively enticing.
In terms of aroma, No Name once again exhibits its Ardbeg heritage. It is aromatic, sweet, and crisp like all Ardbegs, with a distinctively peaty component.
Surprisingly, No Name’s finish is quite graceful and fades away neatly to prepare you for the next sip. You get plenty of rich tarry notes with every drink, all of which combine to create a clean and balanced blend.
Some of the tones we picked up were bacon, seashore, turf burn, haze, dry oak, iodine, and beeswax. It might seem like a confusing blend of notes, but it never struck us as overwhelming or over-the-top. Pretty earthy stuff, we would say, and more so than what one would usually expect from Ardbeg.
Even more distinctive tones are unveiled with the palate, which has a robust smoky character. This is tempered by subtle hints of minerals, candle wax, and a spicy finish that is simultaneously sweet, spicy, and smoky, with rich cocoa undertones.
As you may have figured out already, No Name is all about the peat. Like all peaty whiskeys, there is a powerful iodine component to the flavor, which somehow blends nicely with the campfire smokiness. Counterbalance is provided by dried mango, citrus peel, spicy oak, and sour cherry tones, which dominate through to the long end. Definitely one for the peat-heads in the audience.
The finish is unique in itself, with plenty of saltiness and caramel to be had, along with steak and pepper tones. The finish begins somewhat light before giving way to the more robust Caol Ila characteristic.
We do feel that No Name will appeal to those who love a good cigar. The added notes of wheat and pear blend nicely with the smoke, resulting in a truly intriguing finish. Although No Name is not what you would describe as super complex, it is undeniably distinctive and well-balanced.
No Name’s peatiness admittedly isn’t for everyone. Those accustomed to subtler whiskeys may find the intense flavor character a bit off-putting. But if you are the type of whiskey drinker that has a taste for Ardbeg or Laphroaig, you will find Compass Box No Name right up your alley.
Even if you don’t usually go for the aforementioned whiskeys, we encourage you to give No Name a try. The grassy notes may be enough to entice you of its merits, and its well-balanced character might just seal the deal.
All in all, we feel that this is one of the best of Compass Box’s limited edition releases. Definitely worth checking out!
How to enjoy Compass Box No Name
Peated whiskeys are almost a separate category unto itself. Not all whiskey drinkers will take to the smoky tones so readily. But once you get a taste for it, there really is nothing like a good peaty whiskey.
No Name is a moderately peaty example, so most experienced whiskey drinkers could safely try it without worries. But if you would prefer to ease into the powerful, new flavor landscape, you might consider starting with a lightly peated whiskey such as Oban 14-Year-Old.
If you find that peatiness is to your liking, you could enjoy the undisputed king of Islay whiskeys: Ardbeg An Oa. Smokier and rounder than even other Islay whiskeys, it offers an intense flavor experience that is only hinted at with Compass Box No Name.
Ideal food pairings with Compass Box No Name
The bold smokiness of a peated whiskey such as Compass Box No Name demands equally strong food flavors. Here are a few suggestions on what to have the next time you crack open a bottle:
- Roquefort. This blue cheese from Southern France has the ideal tang to complement No Name.
- Mutton or lamb. Islay has a thriving sheep industry, so this pairing is as authentic as it gets.
- Middle eastern-style lamb meatballs. Try this for a unique twist to the traditional lamb and whiskey pairing.
Compass Box No Name Review