The distinguished members of TATTGOC sure do love their curry, as evidenced by their now-outdated title of Curry Lovers Of The Year 2010. But their ongoing quest for spicy satisfaction isn't merely limited to TATTGOC's regular excursions to some of Glasgow's hidden-gem curryhouses. If they happen across almost any curry-related foodstuff, Trampy and The Tramp feel compelled to take it for a spin – and thus was born the irregular feature Tastin' With The Tramps. What spicy product is in the hot seat this time? Why, it's The Spice Tree, a malt scotch from those artisan whiskymakers at Compass Box!
(Click here to read on ...)
The Product: Compass Box have a fine range of innovative whisky blends in their signature range, including the dense and delicious Hedonism and the self-explanatory Peat Monster. But The Spice Tree was the one that caught the eye of the Tramps, partly because of a distinctive and detailed box but mostly because since it had the word "spice" right there in the title, it could justifiably be featured in Tastin' With The Tramps.
Also, the actual tastin' notes on the back of the box seemed to provide more evidence, drawing attention to "hints of clove, cardamom and ginger" in this twice-matured whisky. Further investigation revealed The Spice Tree also had an interesting tale behind it. After originally launching the whisky in 2005, Compass Box found themselves at odds with the Scotch Whisky Association for using flat oak staves during the secondary maturation. Facing a possible legal battle, Compass Box decided to ... well, it's worth rooting around the website to download the PDF that tells you the full Spice Tree story ...
The Pitch: From that selfsame website: "Our innovative and highly acclaimed blended malt whisky returns in a new edition. Made from Highland malt whiskies which we age in bespoke casks with new French oak heads of varying toast levels. It yields a malt whisky of richness and complexity ..." It's also worth noting that The Spice Tree was named "Best Scotch New Brand" in Jim Murray's influential Whisky Bible 2011.
The Packaging: The entire box for The Spice Tree appears to have been taken over by some crazy monkey puzzle-esque growth, luxuriant in gold and earthy shades, making it look pretty much unlike any other whisky on the shelf. On the box and bottle, some clean, classy labelling reinforces the feel that this is a quality product. And we should say thanks to Gregg Glass at Compass Box and the highly knowledgeable Gordon Hughes for sorting TATTGOC out with a Spice Tree sample (and also allowing us to have a snifter of Hedonism and Peat Monster in the cosy environs of Quel Vin on Great Western Road).
The Process: With the Tramp currently "working nights" – which automatically gives him carte blanche to open a window and throw a boot at Oor Wullie if the wee rascal is making too much noise during the daytime – it fell to Mumbai Me A Pony to assist Trampy in assessing the potential spiciness and woodiness of The Spice Tree. This certainly isn't the first time a saffrongette has taken part in a Tastin', but it suggests a further slide towards full TATTGOC gender integration. At this rate, the ladies will someday be along to an official Curry Club outing! (Haha, like that would ever happen.)
Trampy says: "I have actually tasted a tot of this whisky before, in Quel Vin, and I was struck by how complex it was ... I'm never sure whether it's a good idea to read the tasting notes before you taste something, but I certainly did get a sense of toffee and spice, albeit a sort of earthy heat buried within the blend. I think it would be a knockout as a gift, it feels like something a little bit different and special."
Mumbai Me A Pony says: "I hadn't come across the Compass Box company before but I think the packaging for The Spice Tree looks very classy, it immediately feels very high-end. I wouldn't say I'm an expert, but I've become more interested in whisky in the last year or two, and while I'm not a fan of heavily-peated whiskies, I think this is very smooth, and quite distinctive. The clovey taste makes it feel appropriately winter-y and I can see why they think it would be a good whisky to include in cocktails, it could certainly hold its own against other strong flavours. Does that mean there will be some Curry Club cocktail tasting soon?"
The Verdict: Looks like two thumbs up from Trampy and Mumbai Me A Pony, who were impressed by both the quality of the product and the way it was presented. And anything that shakes up the world of Scottish whisky can only be a good thing. It also opens the doors for the Tramps to cast their taste buds over some other hard liquour, such as the apparently award-winning Amrut single malt Indian whiskey. And this flippin' vodka looks like serious stuff ...
PREVIOUSLY CONSUMED ON TASTIN' WITH THE TRAMPS
Innocent Veg Pots!
Seabrook's Desi Curry Crisps!
Chilli Papas Spice Mixes!
Mongoose, Aboot The Hoose!
Waitrose Hot And Fiery Salad!
The Pot Noodle GTi!
Mr Singh's Curry Pies!
The Pot Noodle Fightback!
Mr Singh's Punjabi Chilli Sauce!
McCoy's Vs Golden Wonder!
The Nation's Noodle!
Mr Singh's Bangras!