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Farewell to Hedonism Core Range Expression

Updated: May 30

Compass Box Hedonism Core expression farewell

Image by The Whisky Ardvark

Fans of Compass Box Hedonism received a surprising announcement in late November 2023 that the expression will be discontinued. Starting in 2024, it will only be available as a limited annual release due to the diminishing stocks of old and rare grain whiskies. The company announced the news via email to its newsletter subscribers.

But what made Hedonism unique? In this article, we will delve into the changes in the core range expression and explore the limited editions released so far.

Long live Hedonism.


It All Started with Hedonism

John Glaser, the former marketing director of Diageo and owner of Compass Box, established his start-up company in 2000. He created his first blended whisky in his kitchen to launch his venture. Limited to only 690 bottles, the blend consisted of whiskies from closed grain distilleries Caledonian (1988) and Cambus (1993), and it would eventually become the first blended Scotch grain whisky in the market - Hedonism. The name of the blend was chosen to celebrate the interaction between distilled spirit and high-quality wood, which resulted in pleasure and enjoyment.

Compass Box Hedonism first edition

Image by The Whisky Ardvark

John was seen roaming around London's whisky scene to promote his new creation, which turned out to be a surprise hit. The delicious combination became a success, leaving whisky enthusiasts wondering why no one had thought of making a Scottish blended grain before. However, that was part of its appeal - it was something different and proved that grain whiskies could be delicious.

At the time, grain whiskies were only used as components to blends. With both Caledonian and Cambus being owned by Diageo, John leveraged his connections to procure whiskies that the company didn't value much. It took Diageo another 14 years to launch their own grain whisky, Haig Club.

During this period, the appreciation for closed distilleries was in its infancy, especially closed grain distilleries. Single malt whiskies were gaining popularity, and age statements were considered extremely important. By introducing a non-age-statement blended grain whisky, John stepped into uncharted territory that would lead the way to transparency and consumer acceptance and encouraged other companies to bottle single grains. It took courage to do so, and his decision was ground-breaking.


The Different Faces of Hedonism

Compass Box's core expression, Hedonism, was considered the company's signature whisky, and its discontinuation was likely a difficult decision. Despite the recipe's ever-changing nature, the whisky consistently delivered a delightful experience with notes of vanilla, caramel, and a subtle fruitiness, accompanied by hints of coconut in the finish. The whisky was a testament to the skilful craftsmanship of its creators, and it will surely be missed by those who appreciated its unique character.

Compass box Hedonism

Image by Compass Box

Compass Box strongly advocates for transparency in the industry. Therefore, the company's website includes detailed specs of its whisky recipes. For instance, 17 different blend recipes are provided for Hedonism. The core expression has included several whiskies from distilleries such as Port Dundas, North British, Cameronbridge, Girvan, Invergordon, Strathclyde, Dumbarton, Caledonian, and Cambus. Cameronbridge is notably the backbone of many of its reincarnations.

Of course, John Glaser himself provides the best summary of Hedonism.

Video Courtesy of Compass Box

Compass Box has released seven limited versions of its Hedonism whisky prior to 2024, in addition to its core expression. The first version, Hedonism Maximus, was explicitly blended for La Maison du Whisky in 2007. It was a combination of whiskies from the Carsebridge and Invergordon distilleries. The following year, 2008, a global release of Maximus was made available. This blend consisted of 42-year-old whisky from Invergordon and 29-year-old grain from Cameronbridge distillery.

Please refer to the picture below for more information about the seven limited releases.

All Compass Box Hedonism releases

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


Our Farewell

The core expression of Hedonism, which will soon be lost, holds a special place in our hearts here at The Whisky Ardvark. Our very own Mr Duncan Ross enjoyed tasting the first expressions of Hedonism when John was making his rounds around London. He has been a big fan ever since and, like many others, returns to this whisky regularly for a great, never-disappointing dram.

After 23 glorious years filled with Hedonism, we will be stocking up our cabinets with this revolutionary blended Scotch grain before it runs out.

P.S. We haven't accepted any bribes to promote Compass Box; we're just big fans :)


The New Beginning

On the 22nd of February, a new limited edition for 2024 was added to the company website with a price of £85. This first release blends Cameronbridge grain and whiskies from Port Dundas and Girvan, all matured in first-fill bourbon barrels. The blend was created by whisky makers John Glaser and Alex Saxon. It is bottled at 43% and limited to 7,746 bottles.

Moreover, the new era of Hedonism will include different female artists to showcase the grace and strength of the original Hedonism woman, each in their unique way. The first release features a piece by the celebrated Edinburgh-based artist Stephanie Rew. She combines traditional Early Renaissance gilding techniques with a contemporary painterly lexicon.

Compass Box Hedonism annual release 2024

Images by Compass Box / Whisky Magazine


Thank you for reading The Whisky Ardvark!

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