Compass Box Flaming Heart Review

Compass Box Flaming Heart

Limited third edition.  4,186 bottles.  September 2010.

48.9% abv

Score:  89.5/100


I wrote up notes for this one a long time back, and either a) the whisky has substantially evolved, b) I was way off on the multiple occasions I tasted and took notes c) I’m now better/worse at what I do.  Either way…there’s not a lot of consistency between what I’m picking up now and what I got out of this one ‘back in the day’.

To be clear…these notes are for the 10th anniversary release of Flaming Heart.  While I’d like to get my hands on another one of this particular edition (sadly…I have none left now), this makes me want to dive into a more recent bottling to see what sort of evolution this one has gone through.

The Compass Box website says this one combines “Highland, Islay and Island single malts, aged in a combination of American and French oak casks, to create a smoky-sweet flavour profile like no other Scottish malt whisky.”  Yep…definitely smoky-sweet.  While I can’t say this one immediately jumps out from the pack as something astonishingly unique, I can say that it absolutely does exemplify high quality and a very profound and intimate understanding of the blender’s craft.  To clarify that statement…this is not a single malt whisky.  Rather, it is a blended malt.  However, I much prefer the old nomenclature of ‘vatted malt’, so in deference to John Glaser’s cheekiness, from here on out I’ll call it a vatted malt, SWA (ahem…primarily Diageo blokes, if rumour holds true…or at least being led by Diageo blokes) be damned.  (Anyway…for a little fun, spend some time reading up on the Compass Box Last Vatted Malt tale.  There’s even a wee video of the actual bottling of the LVM onYoutube.)

Pushing whisky politics aside for a bit (though if any whisky maker has dealt with more than its share of bureacracy it would have to be Compass Box), let’s check out the whisky itself.

Nose:  Just a touch of peach.  Some orange and a hint of pear.  Yes, there’s a bit of peat and smoke, but it’s very clean and crisp.  A slight peppery bite.  Slightly lemon biscuity.  I can still get the malted barley.  The smoke is well checked here.

Palate:  Big orange note.  A fair bit of vanilla.  Some perfume-y notes (very pleasant).  A whiff of smoke.  Nice grain/oak balance.  This is an incredibly smooth easy drinker.

I was off the mark last time.  Thankfully it was unscored notes I published, but wow…humbling.  Again…hats off to John and his team.  Another winner from Compass Box.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Pat Carroll

4 thoughts on “Compass Box Flaming Heart Review

  1. ChainWhip

    John Glaser / Compass Box posted a neat video that goes into the component malts on the 2012 Flaming Heart Release:

    Worth a watch if you have the time

  2. ChainWhip

    Oops… It looks like the video I posted was for the 4th Edition

    Regardless, loved both 3rd & 4th – thanks for the review!

  3. Eric

    If you ever happen to be in the DC/Baltimore, MD area, I am aware of a store that has a number of bottles of the 10th Anniversary (September 2010 bottling) sitting around on the shelf for $99. It appears they’ve been there for awhile. The only one I’ve seen purchased in the last year went home with me, so I don’t think they are going anywhere anytime soon.

    1. shack

      Eric, I’m out in the DC/Baltimore area — which store has the 10th anniversary version of the Flaming Heart? It’s one of my favorites.


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