Compass Box Peat Monster Review

46% abv

Score:  90/100


Hmmm.  Wow.  Something seems a little odd here.  I first had a go at Compass Box’s The Peat Monster last year at an event hosted by John Glaser (the man behind the curtain).  I remember thinking that this was a delicious dram, if somewhat…misleading.  I expected a solid kick in the stuff with this one, a la Octomore or Supernova.  C’mon…with a name like ‘The Peat Monster’, wouldn’t you expect the same?

From what I can gather (and I hope to clarify in the near future…hang tight for updates), this was originally composed primarily of Caol Ila and Ardmore.  This would explain my initial reaction.  HOWEVER…scuttlebutt says, there is now Laphroaig in the mix.  Aha…it all comes clear.  Indeed this is much beefier than I recall (and my old notes attest).  The nose is all Caol Ila.  The palate is all Laphroaig.  Simply astounding.

Basically…the delicate intensity that so characterizes and defines Caol Ila is given a souped up engine under the hood.  Peat, smoke and brine meet citrus zest, ash and pepper.  Lovely.  This gets a hefty boost across the tastebuds if you can imagine the aforesaid complimented by that raw Laphroaig earthiness.  Sharp apple skins at the tale end of the finish.

Now this is certainly deserving of the title Peat Monster.  A very sexy whisky.

For those unfamiliar with John Glaser’s Compass Box enterprise, do yourself a favor…nab a bottle of this, The Spice Tree, Hedonism or Asyla.  The more time I spend with this lineup, the more I dig ‘em.  Mr. Glaser is an alchemist.  His approach is unique and uncompromising.  I like that.   I can hardly wait to see what else he has up his sleeve.

Non-chill-filtered, non-colored and 46% abv.  Solid.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Pat at

10 thoughts on “Compass Box Peat Monster Review

  1. David

    I like this Whisky. It’s as good as any comparable single malt. And it does have a peat kick. But I have to say no subsequent tasting has blasted a much smoke as the first time I cracked open the bottle.

    Today I could swear I tasted sen-sen in the finish! One of either my palate or my imagination is improving.

    I have about 3 drams left. The only thing that would discourage me from buying another bottle is the number of bottles in my cabinet waiting their turn,including Big Peat, which is likely the closest I will ever get to Port Ellen.

  2. Jeff

    I return to this one (89/100) again and again, but maybe for the “wrong” reasons because I think the name is a bit extreme – I’ve yet to find “A MONSTER!”. That said, the peat is very well and cleanly rendered (reminding me of Tomintoul’s The Peaty Tang) and the precision and control found in this and other Compass Box products rivals that of Macallan, Lagavulin and Highland Park, which is scary in a vat.

    Glaser does a great job of combining bright flavours that don’t cancel each other out or get muddled, and I think Compass Box was pretty smart in creating buzz with 100% malt and vatted grain products before launching its entry-level Great King Street blend, which might otherwise have been lost in the shuffle.

    As far as peated vats go, I do prefer Big Peat and I’m keeping my eye peeled for the Christmas cask-strength version with Santa on the label to hopefully appear soon.

    1. Bob

      I found this is connosr review where they explain the name… hope it explains the name..

      CompassBox wrote:

      Hi @Alanjp Thanks for the review. For us, the key to Peat Monster is the combination of the feisty peaty nose (you may pick up the character of the south shore Islay malt that we use, along with a peaty malt from the Isle of Mull) combined with the smokier, rounder, silky, cinnamon and licorice palate based on the Speyside peat of Ardmore. It’s like 2 whiskies in one, getting the best of both worlds.

      As for the name, when we first created PM in 2003, it was quite monstrous in relation to other things out there, but today, you’re right, it is very much in the medium-peated catgegory. We just didn’t want to kill off the name or the little PM critter. We think of it now as a well-educated monster (charm with menace) and certainly a monster of complexity. I hope that helps!
      03 January 2012 12:15

      1. Jeff

        Thanks for the post, Bob, because it does explain a lot, not least of which that Glaser & Co. do know that the Peat Monster might be a Jabberwocky, but it’s not King Kong, by today’s standards. But wait… what if you made a 3 to 5-year vat of Laphroaig, Ardmore, Ledaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg and did it at cask strength? PEATZILLA!! PEATZILLA!!!

        Thanks again and Sláinte!

    2. Robert

      Boy! David was right about the smoke! I opened this puppy New Years Eve and the smoke was dominant, making it hard to evaluate. I kept checking my breath expecting to see billows of smoke when I exhaled. Poured another dram tonight and the smoke had subsided, allowing the Caol Ila nose to step forward. I immediately poured half drams of CI 12 and Laphroaig 10 for comparison. The Lag is what is most noticeable in the palate with a bit of CI brine and Ardmore sweet fruit. Very tasty! Great work by Glaser and company!

    3. Robert

      I had another generous dram of this yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. A little air has rounded it some, making it slightly better to my tastes. Great blend!

      1. Jeff

        I took another run at this recently as well. I just wish there was a little more “to it”, or it had more Islay character, like Big Peat. Not that it’s bad whisky, but the way it “handles” (and I do wish I could be more precise here), kind of reminds me more of white wine than, say, Ardbeg. But speaking of Ardbeg, I recently tried Smokehead again as well, and Peat Monster is MILES ahead of that in refinement – maybe that’s the problem: it’s a little too refined for the profile. My buddy, the Scotch Guru, has picked up the latest edition and says it’s much peatier (maybe from a rumoured addition of Ledaig?).

        1. Robert

          I’d definitely say “refined” fits it and that’s why I like Caol Ila and PM. They are both not at all like the other peaty whiskies I love. I really love Lag 12 and Corry and Laphroaig CS for their initial rawness/dirtiness which smooths out with water and time. CI and PM are a smooth and clean version of peat from the start. We are truly lucky to have such high quality variety. I need to check out this new PM bottling. How does it compare?

          1. Jeff

            I agree the peat is very clean, much like the Ardmore that helps to drive the Peat Monster I have. An even cleaner peat, in my opinion, however, is to be found in Tomintoul’s Peaty Tang – the spirit’s so mild that the peat almost stands alone. Sláinte!

  3. Jamie

    I loved the oak in Peat Monster. Big Peat did not oak like this. Like fresh cut oak shavings. Then goes squeaky like a rubber effect on cheeks. Is this how compass toasted it or the quality of the oak? I’ve had the basic Caol Ila and Laphroaig and the oak was not like this.


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