When my nose delicately hovered drone-like over Compass Box’s latest self-aware homage to its own line of special Hedonism blends, the signature of grain whisky was written in attar of rose ink. It’s gloriously perfumed with pineapple treacle found in a magic butt. (By the way, the latter phrase about the “magic butt” comes, believe it or not, from John Glaser, not John Impostor, although our John couldn’t stop sniggering.) There are twigs from cedar saplings, ethereal limes, chalk once used by Albert Einstein, hand-fired bricks shaped by artisanal adobe brick-makers from Brooklyn, and persimmon chunks Pegasus sneezed out while flying over Crete. Apparently some flying horses have pretty bad persimmon addictions not much written about by Homer and Ovid.
The mouth is nectarilicious without the viscosity. There’s unripe Comice pear juice thinned by the contents of a tiny vial of Rembrandt’s lacquer left over after finishing the glaze on The Night Watch, and also the hallmark caramelized marshmallow grain whisky that I love. It’s as gracious as a woman’s white elbow gloves and as staccato sharp as her slap after an impertinent remark. There’s white pepper hiding in there, at first, almost shyly peeping out through the lemon groves, before the spice assertively, uh, asserts itself. This is what a banana daiquiri would be if it were poured over honey vanilla gelato, dumped over the Queen, interpreted into modern dance by Twyla Tharp, and then dreamt of as a scotch whisky. Alchemists, take note:
Fruit ➞ Cocktail ➞ Ice Cream ➞ Major Etiquette Breach ➞ Unrecognizable Abstract Art ➞ Aspirational Self-Healing.
John Glaser is a Mad Genius rivaling whoever inscribed the mysterious Voynich Manuscript.
The finish is long, strong, as mellifluous as a song accompanied by a gong. (Okay, I admit the last bit was is there just for the rhyme.) It’s part and parcel with the mouth like the magic lamp is integral to the Aladdin’s djinn. It’s elegant, thin, and sharp like the balsam-wood ivory-handled hat-pin stiletto of a noblewoman who doubled as a ninja assassin. It’s the Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen sung by a contralto. (I know Maria Callas is not a contralto; don’t @ me.) The finish finishes with the memory of a marzipan mousse you ate in a one-star bistro in Paris when you were 12, traveling with your favorite aunt who always smelled of kittens.
On the scale of ancient scientific wonders, precision-made, delicate yet enduring two millenia at the bottom of the ocean, found off the coast of Greece about 100 years ago, and understood only recently–
The Compass Box Hedonism Limited Edition: The Muse is the Antikythera Mechanism (Guess it couldn’t be much else on that scale)–The Antikythera Mechanism was possibly made by Archimedes and it is extraordinary. It was fused into a lump of corroded wood, bronze, and sea-crust, brought to the surface because it was part of the wreckage of an old ship, and was found to be of interest after some years languishing in a box in the National Museum of Archaeology in Athens. It predicts eclipses and special rituals and is called the first analogue computer. It doesn’t have much to do with the The Muse, except that both are exceptional works of genius.
–Our thanks to Compass Box for the sample!