Compass Box’s New Whisky, Stranger & Stranger, Contains 1-Year-Old Spirit

To celebrate a decade of partnership with a package design firm (totaling 35 different projects), independent Scotch whiskymaker Compass Box has released a limited run (4,802 bottles worldwide) of a whisky they have named Stranger & Stranger. Named after the firm, Stranger & Stranger is a whisky, but it’s technically not a Scotch whisky. We’ll explain.

The final blend that makes up Stranger & Stranger is made from four different spirits. Eighty percent is malt whisky from Glenlossie that was aged in a re-charred hogshead. Fourteen percent is malt whisky from Glen Elgin that was aged in re-charred barrels. Five percent is malt whisky aged in sherry butts from Linkwood. And the final portion? That’s where the “whisky but not whisky” part comes in. The last 1 percent is grain spirit from Girvan. That spirit spent one year in experimental American oak barrels as a seasoning agent before being put into a refill hogshead for “safekeeping” while the blend was being created.

stranger and stranger whisky

Of the one-year-old spirit, Whiskymaker John Glaser had this to say:

“We had taken to calling it a ‘sacrificial spirit’ because we didn’t know what it would taste like after a year in these experimental new barrels. Turned out, it was amazing! And adding just a small amount to old single malt whiskies provided a lovely underlying sweetness and complexity. The only problem was because it was just one year old, it wasn’t technically Scotch whisky yet, because Scotch has to be a minimum of three years old. We thought about this for a while, then concluded: for a product called ‘Stranger & Stranger’, who cares!”

“We had taken to calling it a ‘sacrificial spirit’ because we didn’t know what it would taste like after a year in these experimental new barrels.”

According to the brand, the tasting notes include notes of custard and dark sugars, fresh apple and an appealing herbal character. The palate is sweet, in part due to the “sacrificial spirit.”

To go with this new and somewhat off-the-wall spirit, the whisky team challenged the design team to come up with something that would be fitting. The team at Stranger & Stranger took the idea of a “sacrificial spirit” and ran with it, utilizing a cutting edge printing technique (not usually used in label making) that creates an almost 3-D effect by using extremely high embossing. The level of embossing is so high, the company says, that it takes specially-trained people over minutes to apply one label, followed by waxing of the cork and putting it in a box.

Stranger & Stranger will be available in select specialty stores starting in March and will retail for around $200.

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