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Compass Distillers 100% Nova Scotian Rye

Review: Compass Distillers 100% Nova Scotian Rye    85.5/100
Reviewed by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted January 18, 2021

Compass Distillers is located in Halifax Nova Scotia, where Graham, Josh, and David began their distilling journey with a belief that they could create world-class spirits locally. Their artisan Craft Spirits are not imported, they are not blended with generic ingredients, nor are they pumped out of a factory; rather, they are made from scratch, with locally sourced ingredients.

According to the Compass Distiller website, Compass Distillers 100% Nova Scotian Rye gives recognition to bountiful harvest of Nova Scotia’s grain. The spirit was produced from grain which was milled, mashed, fermented, and distilled in Halifax, and then was aged in new charred North American oak barrels for three years.

The whisky is bottled at 46 % alcohol by volume.

In The Bottle  4/5

Compass Distillers sell most of their products in the squat cylindrical bottle shown to the left. The bottle follows the bartender’s creed of being easy to store (the stubbly bottle is stable with a round shape that rests easily on any bartender’s shelf); easy to hold (the round cylindrical bottle is not too wide for the average person’s hand); and easy to pour (the glass stopper comes out easily and the long neck helps us avoid spilling).

The image on the front label depicts the 100% Nova Scotian grain which was milled, mashed, fermented, and distilled in Halifax.

In The Glass 8.5/10

Colour: Gold moving to Amber

Legs: Slender Legs which disappear as they run down the glass

Nose: Leathery grain and oak, burlap, butterscotch, vanilla and almond. Rye spice and fine oak spice with hints of ginger and cinnamon follow as do hints of milk chocolate.

The nose is very pleasant, and demonstrates that even a 3 year old whisky can begin to display depth and complexity in the glass.

In The Mouth 51.5/60

I like this whisky. Even though it is young and somewhat heated, it has a delicious dry leathery grain flavour which carries just enough butterscotch and vanilla sweetness to balance the leathery grain and heated spice. That touch of heated spice is accentuated by the higher than normal bottling strength; but the heat doesn’t build as you sip, nor does it overwhelm the pleasant flavour of Nova Scotia grain. Light baking spices and almond flavours from the oak cask begin to taste like toffee and marzipan by the time I am taking my third sip. I don’t want to overstate things, as the whisky is young and therefore has only developed some of its potential. However, what I taste to this point is a whisky with a firm, well balanced profile.

In The Throat 13/15

The spirit is light bodied with a short leathery finish which carries  an ebbing butterscotch/marzipan sweetness which balances the lightly bitter grain and heated spice. Hints of cinnamon and clove glow at the back of my throat.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

This construction of Compass Distillers 100% Nova Scotian Rye Whisky is pretty much spot on. If not for the lack of maturity, the score could rise much higher. Alas, this whisky is only three years old, and with that short stay in the oak casks has only brought part of the goodness and character that oak aging can deliver. However, Compass Distillers are on the right road, and I predict big things ahead.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.


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