Tag Archives: compass box

Great King Street Artist’s Blend Review

Producer: Compass Box. Distillers: undisclosed. Regions: Speyside & Highland. ABV: 43%. No age statement. Price: $35-40.

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 just under 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 $35-40.

It 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. Three cheers for Compass Box! – BO

Buy Compass Box whisky online from Mash + Grape

Compass Box Peat Monster Review

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

Buy Compass Box whisky online from Mash + Grape

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┬áspecial 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.

Buy Compass Box whisky online at Mash + Grape