We've always thought there was something magical about stepping into an old bookshop.
The dusty, hushed atmosphere. The scent of long-forgotten stories. That feeling of being transported to a secret little corner of the world. This limited edition whisky was made in pursuit of this feeling. It’s an emotion translated into liquid.
Read on to uncover the story of Vellichor, a thrillingly novel tasting experience…
How Vellichor came to be…
For us at Compass Box, the creation of a new whisky draws on the senses, the imagination, and the emotions. Few combine all three like Vellichor.
The term Vellichor was coined by author and artist John Koenig*, meaning “the wistfulness of a second-hand bookshop”. The search for its whisky equivalent was undertaken by our whiskymaker James Saxon.
“To us, Vellichor starts with a word and an emotion: the experience of being in a second-hand bookshop and being enveloped by its aroma.
Refining the very specific aromas of old books with whisky has been a moving process for us.”
Each component tells its own story…
The enigmatic character of Vellichor is made from incredibly rare, treasured and hugely sought-after parcels of whisky, starting with a 23-year-old whisky from the Macallan Distillery:
- The Macallan Distillery
Two first fill ex-Bourbon barrels give this parcel a heavyweight texture, and glossy aromatics. It is the youngest component of Vellichor, and also appeared in past limited edition Rivals.
- The Highland Park Distillery
The musky, dry leather aromas and eloquently fruity flavour of this parcel made it a fitting lead character in the story of Vellichor. The all-round depth and brilliance put us in mind of literature’s most accomplished heroes and heroines, the only character flaw being that there wasn’t more of it.
- A Blended Malt parcel
Notes of heavy-cooked fruit and spice come from a blend of Speyside and Highland malts, further matured in two refill Sherry butts. The flavours evoke images of a well-thumbed dessert cook book.
- A Blended Scotch parcel
Delicious cake-like flavours and a honeyed peatiness are the result of a Sherry-aged blended Scotch parcel which originally combined malt whiskies from Orkney and Speyside with Lowland grain. We estimate that it spent around 16 extra years maturing in its refill butt – the wait for its story to be read again was a long one.
- The Caol Ila Distillery
This parcel brings an antique deliciousness to the fore and pays homage to previous limited edition works Flaming Heart (2015) and Tobias & the Angel. The final cask from this incredibly dear parcel, it evokes beautiful smokiness with a surprising juiciness. If this were a volume in our bookshop, it would be printed on vellum.
For more information on the recipe breakdown, download the factsheet from the Vellichor product page.
A library of scent & flavour
This is whisky as literary time-travel. Breathe in the aroma, savour a sip, and you’ll be transported to a place filled with almost limitless stories.
A complex, bookish perfume. Evokes thoughts of leather, polished furniture and well-worn pages.
Flavours of heathery smoke, vanilla and caramel give way to waxy notes and sweet, tannic mixed dried fruit.
The science behind the art…
There’s a reason whisky and old books feel well-suited: it’s a chemistry they share.
Though we didn’t create Vellichor by matching molecules, Nose Dive by Harold McGee** provides a detailed, scientific explanation for the smell of old books.
This aroma is partially owed to chemical compounds such as vanillin, furfural and guaiacol, which can also be found in aged whiskies.
Vellichor is available from our web shop and select specialist spirits retailers while stocks last. Contact us if you need help locating your nearest stockist.
For those who wish to learn more about the backstory of Vellichor, here are some recommendations from our whiskymaker James:
*Koenig, J. (2021) The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, New York: Simon & Schuster, p.163.
**McGee, H. (2020) Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World’s Smells, London: John Murray Press, p. 601.