New from Compass Box: The Circle, No. 2 Limited Edition Blended Scotch Whisky

Compass Box Scotch whisky makers announce an exciting new limited edition blended whisky. The Circle, No. 2 is the latest to emerge from Compass Box’s global bartender competition, The Circle, and is inspired by the phenomenon known as synesthesia (SRP $130, ABV 46%). The whisky will be available in the U.S. beginning in July, with only 3,113 bottles available worldwide.

compass box the circle no. 2

The Circle bartender competition is designed to connect the creative processes of the Blending Rooms with the art of bartending, exploring imaginative and unusual ideas and bringing like-minded individuals together to learn, share and create. British bartender Mannie Monaghan won the 2019 competition and earned the prize of collaboration with the Compass Box whiskymakers to blend the second edition of The Circle Scotch whisky. To do so, Monaghan, who owns Below Stairs in Leeds, U.K., tapped into the phenomenon known as synesthesia, asking the Compass Box team: “Is it possible to make a whisky that evokes the color coral?”

Synesthesia is defined as a blending of the senses, such as hearing shapes, tasting days of the week, or smelling colors and is as varied in its forms and intensities as the people who experience it. As a synesthete himself, Monaghan was able to bring the full force of his taste buds and personal color palette to the Compass Box Blending Rooms, fostering a unique creative process for the whiskymaking team.

Monaghan says, “What does the color coral taste like? It’s unmistakably warm, familiar, and powerful. Translating that sensation into whisky has led us to create a wonderful warm whisky that expresses the positivity and vibrancy of Living Coral, Pantone’s color of the year in 2019.”

Over two lengthy sessions, Monaghan joined lead whiskymaker James Saxon in the Blending Rooms. Not synesthetic himself, Saxon relied on Monaghan to first identify parcels of whisky with coral-like qualities. This was an exciting challenge and great fun, scouring the shelves for samples of whiskies with the intensity and beauty that matched the color in Monaghan’s mind.

The soft and sweet whisky gradually took shape. More than half of the recipe is tropical, pineapple-accented whisky from the Glen Elgin Distillery, while whiskies aged in Sherry casks lend warmth, energy, and a clinging texture. Dashes of a peated whisky, and a little malt whisky further matured in STR (shaved, toasted and re-charred) wine casks, bring contrast and depth. The Circle, No. 2 was created as an “outdoor whisky” to be enjoyed with friends, lounging on a lazy afternoon as the sun sets.

Key flavors expressed by the whisky are pineapple and stewed peach alongside vanilla, honey and sultanas soaked in Cognac. Compass Box wanted the label design to reflect the collaborative whiskymaking process and the fusing of the senses, as well as bring to life the luminous beauty of coral.

“Creating The Circle, No. 2 with Mannie has shown us that the senses can be blended together, and that they can inform one another,” says Saxon. “This is the beauty of collaboration. Not being synesthetic, working with Mannie in the Blending Rooms was a bit like trying to learn a new language. Gradually, I was able to suggest parcels of whisky that met Mannie’s vision more precisely. By the end, I did feel as though I was seeing colors, too! We are so pleased to finally be able to release this whisky, and that we can start to look forward to bringing bartenders together again.”