Whisky Advent Day 6 – Compass Box Great King Street

Everyone loves the underdog! Maybe it is their plucky attitude, their small stature, or the way they sometimes go against the grain. Whatever the truth of the matter is, you can’t help but root for them. When I think of Compass Box Whisky, I think of them as the underdog of the Scotch whisky industry, a plucky, small and maverick whisky company. In an industry of giants, they are tiny, but their spirit and reputation are so much bigger!

Compass Box was founded by expatriate American John Glaser in 2000. Having worked for a stint at Johnny Walker, where he had fallen head over heels in love with Scotch whisky, John had a vision of returning artistry to the production of Blended Scotch whisky. Hundreds of millions of bottles of Blended Scotch were being bottled and sold each year, but their style had long since lost its way. Overtime it had become increasingly homogeneous as ownership of brands consolidated into fewer and fewer hands. After failing to convince Diageo, owners of Johnny Walker to let him create a boutique blended whisky brand under their banner he decided to set out on his own. But he didn’t leave empty handed, he took with him long term supply contracts of both malt and grain.

John founded Compass Box Whisky Co. with a vision of bottling unique, beautiful and interesting whiskies, by returning artistry to the creation of Blended Scotch. Over the last 16 years Compass Box has built a well deserved reputation on quality, creativity and transparency. The firm is behind a movement (supported by KWM) demanding the opportunity to offer greater Scotch Whisky Transparency. Today the firm is one of the most respected producers of Blended Malt and Blended Scotch Whisky. It’s portfolio consists of the Signature Range: Asyla (Blended), Oak Cross (Blended Malt), Hedonism (Blended Grain), Spice Tree (Blended Malt) and Peat Monster (Blended Malt) as well as the Great King Street Range. The Great King Street range consists of two Blended Scotch Whiskies, today’s Advent whisky, the Great King Street Artist’s Blend and the Great King Street Glasgow (which featured in our calendar last year).

Compass Box is especially well known for its provocative and stunning limited releases. Early in the New Year we are expecting two new ones: Spice Tree Extravaganza and 3 Year Old Deluxe! The latter is a not so subtle jab at the Scotch Whisky Industry, and a part of Compass Box’s Campaign for Scotch Whisky Transparency.

But back to today’s dram, the Great King Street Artist’ Blend. Compass Box on the Great King Street Range: “By applying the same skill, techniques and philosophy that we use for the Compass Box Signature Range of whiskies, Great King Street offers a style and approach to Blended Scotch that has not existed before. Great King Street is a new and compelling alternative for both whisky enthusiasts who ordinarily drink only malt whiskies, and for whisky novices. It is bottled at a natural colour and without chill-filtering. We call whiskies made with this approach ‘craft blends’.”

Compass Box on the Great King Street Artist’s Blend: “Five key things set apart our approach to making Great King Street:

  1. Great Grain. We use the very highest quality single grain Scotch whiskies which are the foundation of good Blended Scotch. All are aged in “first fill” American oak barrels, which makes the grain whisky much richer and sweeter on the palate.
  2. More Malt. We use a higher proportion of malt whisky than most other Blends. Artist’s Blend consists of almost 50% malt whisky. This provides more character and complexity.
  3. Better Oak. Every cask of whisky used to make Artist’s Blend is of the highest quality: first-fill American oak casks, first-fill European oak  ex-Sherry butts and new heavily-toasted French oak.
  4. Bottled Naturally. Artist’s Blend is bottled at its natural colour and without chill filtration. This leaves the whisky full of its natural complexity and mouthfeel.
  5. Traditional Strength. We bottle Artist’s Blend at 43% alcohol by volume, a strength traditionally used in Scotland many years ago.

Compass Box Great King Street Artist’s Blend - 43% - For more details see above! – Andrew’s Tasting Note: soft, floral and elegant with honey, vanilla and cream; fresh sliced white fruits: apple and pear, but also some lemon drops; decadent with juicy barley and powdered sugar. Palate: round, chewy and toasty; much bigger bodied than most blends; very floral, loads of vanilla, subtle spices and layers of fruits; more white fruits, lemon drops and touch of grapefruit pith; the grains add a silky elegance to the whisky while the malt lends a big oily body! Finish: medium-long, elegant and toasty the whisky slowly fades out into more delicate floral tones and vanilla. Comment: this is an excellent blend for the price point, a great sipping whisky or a lovely addition to a classic whisky cocktail like a Penicilin! - $60

Order a Compass Box Great King Street!

Stay tuned tomorrow, for KWM Whisky Advent Day 7!


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