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Compass Box Ultramarine, First Of New Extinct Blends Quartet

What you need to know:

  • Indie bottler, Compass Box, is setting out to revive the legendary (and almost mythical) whisky blends of the 1980's, with its new series - The Extinct Blends Quartet. The first of which will be titled "Ultramarine".
  • The inspiration behind the series is the late 1980's in Scotch whisky history, where blenders then were in search for high quality casks from the "lake of whisky" leftover after the last whisky crisis.
  • A total of 3,200 bottles will be released, bottled at 51% ABV, comprising of a blend of 10 different whiskies.
  • We engage in some late night tea leaves reading and wonder if we might soon face our own Whisky Loch. (What's that? We dig into it!)

 

 

Ultramarine

(Image Source: Compass Box)

  

Indie bottler, Compass Box, is setting out to revive the legendary (and almost mythical) whisky blends of the 1980's, with its new series - The Extinct Blends Quartet. The first of which will be titled "Ultramarine", which will, as is Compass Box's style, feature a larger than life label of a girl (or mermaid?) trying to connect with a cloak of blue fabric.

 

 

The inspiration behind the series is the late 1980's in Scotch whisky history, where blenders then were in search for high quality casks from the "lake of whisky" leftover after the last whisky crisis.

A total of 5,982 bottles will be released, bottled at 51% ABV, comprising of a blend of 10 different whiskies.

 

"Ultramarine launches the Extinct Blends Quartet and is our reimagining of a deluxe Scotch that emerged in the late 1980s. The first few batches of this iconic whisky were based around characterful stocks of malt and grain, drawn from Scotland's Whisky Loch of the late 70s and early 80s. While still a fascinating product today, a compelling antique quality can be found in the earliest bottlings.

Meaning "beyond the sea", Ultramarine builds upon peated malts, Sherry maturation, and boldly creamy grain whisky. Like the three releases that will follow, we have used our imaginations and extremely tasty parcels of whisky to offer modern interpretations on great blended Scotch of the past."

 

 

Following the back label, here are the blend's components:

  • Cameronbridge Distillery (Recharred Hogshead) - 20.3%
  • Caol Ila Distillery (Refill Bourbon Barrel) - 15.9%
  • Girvan Distillery (First Fill Bourbon Barrel) - 15.1%
  • Glendullan Distillery (First Fill Sherry-Seasoned Butt) - 13.1%
  • Blended Malt Parcel (Refill Sherry Butt) - 10.0%
  • Speyburn Distillery (Refill Hogshead) - 7.5%
  • Highland Malt Blend (Custom French Oak Cask - Heavy Toast) - 6.7%
  • Blended Scotch Parcel (Refill Sherry Butt) - 5.0%
  • Glen Ord Distillery (First Fill Sherry Butt) - 4.5%
  • Miltonduff Distillery (Recharred Hogshead) - 1.9%

 

The new Ultramarine expression will have a total outturn of 5,982 bottles, priced at an RRP of 295 GBP, and be released in October 2022. It is said to possess notes of "toffee, antique polished oak and complex peatiness are primary aromas, with a palate of roasted pecan, raisins and smoke".

 

Our Take

That's some interesting whisky history right there - Whisky Loch. It's not a term you hear much these days, although perhaps it should be.

The term itself was actually a reference to an overconfidence in the multitudes of whiskymakers back in the 1970's who were setting up distilleries left, right, and center, with the belief that the whisky boom was always going to be upwards and more. As with basic economics - they would later find that they had produced too much and led to a some what collapse in whisky prices.

 

Port Ellen – The Whiskyphiles

Port Ellen - one of the most notable casualties of the 80s' Whisky Loch. (Image Source: The Whiskyphiles)

 

This eventually led to a massive cutting of production to drain the Whisky Loch - a prominent player who had a big hand in which, was Diageo (or The Distiller's Company Ltd, DCL). It was eventually Diageo who decided consolidate a sizeable number of distilleries (that we still enjoy today) and opted to close a handful of distilleries that we consider legendary today, such as Port Ellen and Brora. But really, given how stark the overproduction was, there was little choice. As they say, cut off an arm to save the body". This led to more than 20 distilleries that are now lost, some of which have regained popularity in recent times - Banff, Coleburn, Convalmore, Glen Mhor, Glenugie, North Port, just to name a few.

I wonder if the "deluxe Scotch that emerged in the late 80s" refers to Johnnie Walker...

 

Johnnie Walker Black Label - Ratings and reviews - Whiskybase

Vintage 80s Johnnie Walker Black. (Image Source: Whiskybase)

 

There is certainly some speculation if ironically, we're back in what will prove to be yet another Whisky Loch in the 2020s, given just bullish the whisky industry has been and the number of new distilleries being opened.

Yet, today, unlike the 70s, more than 80% of Scotch is produced by only a handful of companies - Diageo, Chivas, Pernod Ricard, William Grant & Sons, Edrington, basically covers most of it. This would hopefully mean better foresight and controlling of production.

 

Distillers Company Limited | Spirits

The Distillers Company Ltd, the predecessor of Diageo. (Image Source: Spirits.com.pl)

 

However, this time whisky mania is also much more global and all around the world, distilleries are springing up. So, we can't say with much certainty taht we won't see a Whisky Loch in some other part of the world or as a whole collectively (it has happened before in Japan and left casualties including Hanyu and Karuizawa).

That said, back to the bottle, great art! And also something that stood out was that the whisky looks to be a 65-35 split of malt and grain whiskies, which just seemed interesting to me, but I certainly don't make anything of that.

Can't wait to find out more!

 

Kanpai!

 

@111hotpot