Compass Box Whisky
I have always loved Compass Box since the first time I tasted Hedonism. My love grew even more upon the release of Great King Street and I was also fortunate enough to pick up a bottle of their New York Blend when I was in Manhattan a few months ago.
Master Distiller John Glaser has really out done himself with his line of phenomenal whiskies. He says that “we create styles of whisky from other people’s whisky”. Compass Box really is about the art of selecting whisky, blending and wood.
Note that all of Compass Boxes whiskies are non-chill filtered to retain more character and flavor. Here’s some information and reviews on some of his current spirits.
Asyla – Blended Whisky (40% ABV)
This is a great entry level Scotch to introduce your non-whisky drinking friends to. It’s a wonderful expression consisting of 50% malt and 50% grain whisky. The single grain only comes from Fife distillery and the malts come from Alness and Longmorn.
All of the whiskies used in the blend come from first fill American oak ex-Bourbon barrels.
Nose: Very soft, vanilla, grassy, apples and pears.
Palate: Vanilla ice cream, malty, washington apples, sweet.
Finish: Dry, light and soft
Oak Cross – Blended Malt (43% ABV)
Primary aging is done in American oak barrels and the marrying casks are Bourbon barrels with French oak heads. The French Oak heads are usually only used to age Bordeaux wines, but John is never one too be traditional.
Oak Cross is made from Highland single malt whiskies from Teaninich, Clynelish, Carron and Alness villages.
Nose: Vanilla, clove, light stewed fruit, ginger, spice, toffee, white chocolate, apple cider.
Palate: Rich, medium body, vanilla, spicy clove, sweet and malty.
Finish: Oak, malt, spicy and sweet.
Peat Monster – Blended Malt (46% ABV)
This Scotch contains whisky from Laphroaig on Islay, Ledaig from the Isle of Mull, vatted with Admore from Speyside.
It has been aged in first fill and refill American oak and then it will be married for several months. It is meant to be a layered and complex whisky.
Nose: Peat, briny, medicinal, sweet, salted bacon.
Palate: Peat, oak, sweet, fruity, copper notes, earthy, iodine, smoky cigar wrapper.
Finish: Sweet peat, violet and rose, oak.
Hedonism – Blended Grain (43% ABV)
The first of its kind, this is a vatted grain whisky produced only once a year. It’s made from 8 to 15 casks of grain whisky from distilleries such as Cameron, Carsebridge, Port Dundas, Dumbarton and Cambus. Most whisky has been aged in first fill American oak barrels or American oak Hogsheads.
Depending on which distillery supplies the whisky, Hedonism will consist of 2 whiskies: one young and one old. The average age in a bottle of Hedonism is usually 22-23 years old.
Nose: Ripe fruit, red pepper, coconut, pastry cream, tropical fruit, sweet.
Palate: Creamy, sweet spice, black cherry, cereal, coconut, toffee, oily texture.
Finish: Warm, spicy, toasted oak, oak and cocoa.
Great King Street – Artists Blend (43% ABV)
A blending of both malt (55%) and grain (45%) whiskies into one expression.
The name comes from a street in the New Town of Edinburgh, Scotland where the main office of Compass Box Whisky Company is located. It is also used because in 1823 the street was finished and the laws for illicit distilling were removed, thus allowing people to distill whisky and make a profit legally.
The foundation grain whisky is sourced from an undisclosed Lowland distillery which has been aged in first fill American oak barrels. This grain whisky will then be applied to the rest of the blend which makes up 55% malt whisky. The total amount of whisky used in this blend is: 45% Lowland Grain Whisky (fruity, perfumed), 28% Northern Highland Single Malt (malty, fruity), 17% Northern Highland Single Malt (grassy, perfumed) and 10% Speyside Single Malty (meaty).
More wood will be used in the aging process from the first fill American oak, first fill European oak ex-Sherry butts, and new heavily toasted French oak. 66% of the wood used is 1st fill American Oak (vanilla flavor), 26% New French oak finish and 8% 1st fill Sherry butts.
Nose: Sweet, creamy, cereal, vanilla, citrus and apple blossom.
Palate: Gentle, creamy, rich, buttered apple pastry, yellow raisin, vanilla, light smoke.
Finish: Rich, round, fruity, spiced malt.
If you see the special New York Blend, buy it, it’s very different compared to the regular Great King Street. The NY blend consists of 80% malt whisky and 20% grain whisky. It’s only aged in ex Bourbon barrels.