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Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend Review

Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend – Producer: Compass Box. Distillers: Cameronbridge, Benrinnes, Laphroaig, Clynelish, Miltonduff, undisclosed Highland distiller. ABV: 43%. Blend:66% malt, 34% grain. Price: $30-35.

I don’t buy whisky by the case, but if I did, this one would tempt me.

The Great King Street blended whiskies from Compass Box are the perfect encapsulation of everything I love about the blender. They combine quality, distinctiveness, and value in a way that virtually no one else in the business can.

The Artist’s Blend is the more delicate, honeyed, Speyside-oriented of the two. (Check out my very enthusiastic review of that one too.) The Glasgow Blend takes its name from the historical preference of Glaswegians–a robust clan themselves–for more robust whiskies. Accordingly, this blend is equally strong on the peat and the sherry.

With customary transparency, Compass Box discloses the exact percentages of the components in the Glasgow Blend. The core is 35% grain whisky from Cameronbridge and 34% malt from Benrinnes. They’re topped with a generous helping (17%) of Laphroaig, and splashes of Clynelish, Miltonduff, and an undisclosed Highland malt.

The nose lets you know you’re in for something good. The peat gets up close and personal right away. There are canned peaches, strawberry jam, and coconut custard pie. A certain waxiness from the grain component. Strong cedar, shading toward mesquite.

The palate has a Bowmore-esque mix of strawberry and watermelon with very distinct peat. Behind that, grilled peach, pear, raspberry, cinnamon, and ginger.

The finish is a pleasant ramp down from the palate. Long and drying, with blackberry and lingering campfire embers.

All that for under $40? Man. Since it’s a blend, you’ll hear loose talk about rocks and soda. For me, the Glasgow Blend is too good to mix.

Cheers, friends! – BO

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Compass Box Asyla Review

Compass Box Asyla. Producer – Compass Box. Distillers: Cameronbridge, Glen Elgin, Linkwood, Teaninich. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Blend: 50% malt, 50% grain. Price: $60.

Friends, you all know of my love for the end-of-bin sales. The treasures unearthed there find a comfortable, if often short-lived, life on the shelves of Castle McDram.

So when I saw Compass Box’s Asyla at a roughly a third off, I grabbed it and ran. After paying for it, of course. I’m a huge Compass Box fan and I was really looking forward to this one. A 50-50 malt-grain blend, containing a heavy proportion of Linkwood and Teaninich malt aged in first-fill ex-bourbon casks? I mean, hell, count me in.

But this one left me empty. The slightly acrid nose has pear, mulch, malt, and vanilla. The palate is sadly underwhelming. Bananas slap flaccidly at the malt, which paws lazily around the pear and fainting lime. There is barely a finish to speak of, more a disappointing drift of thin, weak flavors that echo the palate.

Don’t judge Compass Box by this one, though. This is a rare misfire in a mostly stunning lineup. Their Peat Monster and Great King Street are knockouts, and Baldo counts the 2015 Compass Box Flaming Heart as one of his top drams of all time.

All in all, the Compass Box Asyla only served to reinforce my belief that if you don’t try a producer’s less successful attempts, you’ll never know what’s truly sublime. Here’s to better days and better drinks ahead, friends! – TM

Compass Box Great King Street Artist’s Blend Review

Compass Box Great King Street Artist’s Blend – Producer: Compass Box. Distillers: Cameronbridge, Clynelish, Linkwood, undisclosed Highland malt. Regions: Speyside & Highlands. ABV: 43%. No age statement.Blend: 54% malt, 46% grain. Price: $30-35.

The Great King Street Artist’s Blend was my first Compass Box whisky a few years back, and it opened my eyes to how good a blend can be. Founder and master blender John Glaser calls it “blended Scotch for whisky geeks,” which is just about the perfect description.

In line with Compass Box’s usual eye for quality, the Great King Street Artist’s Blend is over 50% malt (an unusually high proportion), and matured in first-fill bourbon, sherry, and new heavily toasted French oak casks. It’s 43% ABV, not chill filtered, and priced at an exceedingly reasonable $30-35. (Further details on the exact components are available on the Compass Box website, happily.)

The Artist’s Blend has a gorgeous nose with strong wild honey. Sweet oak, new leather, vanilla tobacco, dried apple. The honey leads the palate too, but is beautifully integrated with the grain whisky backbone–sufficiently mature to add weight and heft. Canned peaches and pears. Surprisingly long finish with sweet leather and tobacco predominant.

A whisky geek’s blended Scotch, a blended Scotch skeptic’s blended Scotch…this one can win over just about anybody. And don’t overlook the companion to the Artist’s Blend in the Great King Street range: the rich and peaty Glasgow Blend.

Three cheers for Compass Box! – BO

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Compass Box Peat Monster Review

Compass Box Peat Monster – Producer: Compass Box. Distiller: various (see below). Region: Islay/Islands/Highlands. ABV: 46%. No age statement. Price: $55-65.

I have a special weakness with Compass Box whiskies. The Flaming Heart 2015 was my favorite whisky of that year, and I have yet to write a review. I went through an entire Christmas bottle of Compass Box Peat Monster without writing a review. The problem is that they’re so good, and in such a particular way–which I attribute to the blending genius of founder John Glaser–that I get too absorbed in them to take notes. I just want to enjoy.

But revisiting the Peat Monster, I managed to get my act together. This beauty is a blended malt (also known as a pure malt), meaning it’s a mix of single malts, with no grain whisky. The malts come from Laphroaig, Caol Ila, Ardmore, Ledaig, an unnamed Highland distiller.

The peat is intense, but there are many peatier whiskies on the market by far. The priority here is on balance and nuance.

Nose: lively, fresh, grassy, but with the density and richness that only come from a fair proportion of older malt in the mix. Minimal sweetness. Dark vanilla. Almond flour. Mesquite. Lemongrass. Dry vermouth herbaciousness. I could nose it all night.

Three kinds of peat intertwine on the palate: briny, toasty, and savory/BBQ. The Laphroaig brings the ashiness and brine; the Caol Ila light lemony fruits, tilting from lemon to lime to grapefruit. Charred pear and watermelon candy later on. The finish is very long, with grapefruit rind, grenadine, white ash, and salty sea spray.

The Compass Box Peat Monster should be a staple in any peat lover’s cabinet. Sure is in mine.

Cheers, friends! – BO

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Compass Box This Is Not a Luxury Whisky Review

Producer: Compass Box. Distillers: see below. ABV: 53.1%. Age: 19-40 years. Price: $200-225.

This is going to be fun.

With This Is Not a Luxury Whisky, Compass Box’s marketing game has gotten as strong as its blending. They’re embracing and rejecting scotch whisky’s elite image at the same time–and looking damn good doing it. And I’m happy to report that what’s in the bottle, a 53.1% ABV blend of 19-, 30-, and 40-year-old malt and grain whiskies, is just as good.

With just under 5,000 bottles made, Compass Box’s latest special release combines two single malts and two grain whiskies: 79% of the total is 19-year-old sherry butt-matured single malt from Glen Ord, with the other 21% made up of 40-year-old grain whiskies from Strathclyde and Girvan, and a 30-year-old malt from Caol Ila.

Nose: Pine. Sherry fruits. Raisin biscuits. Amazingly complex interplay of tiny sparkling nuances. Palate: plenty of spice. Chocolate fondue. Dark old oak notes, rich, but the tannins are fully under control. Sweet pipe smoke. Finish: long, mouth-coating, lovely peppery tingle that goes on and on. Utterly drinkable at 53.1% ABV cask strength, but even more bright and vibrant with a drop of water.

Compass Box founder and master blender John Glaser has long since proven himself as one of the best whisky blenders working. He’s done it again. And he’s clearly having fun doing it. Cheers, friends! – BO

Compass Box generously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

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