1257 Kensington Road NW
1 (403) 283-8000 / [email protected]
Five years of discussions went into the creation of this product, the first collaboration between Compass Box and Kensington Wine Market. Inspired by Flaming Heart and some of Compass Box's elegant old blends the Compass Box KWM 25th Anniversary Blend is a very special creation! Bottled at 45% the whisky is from a mixture of old grains and both spicy and smoky malts. The components were matured in First-Fill American Oak, Sherry Butts and French Oak.
What John Glaser had to say about the whisky:
“We have been fortunate to work with Andrew Ferguson of Kensington Wine Market for many years, bringing our Compass Box whiskies to the Scotch enthusiasts of Canada.
"For years we’ve been talking with Andrew about creating a bespoke whisky for him. We originally wanted to name it “Fort Whoop-Up”, after the notorious 19th century Alberta trading post, allegedly a centre for whisky smuggling and all sorts of illegal activities, near what is now Lethbridge.
"But with the 25th anniversary of Kensington Wine Market upon us, we’ve decided to name it in honour of the anniversary, so Andrew can showcase the whisky throughout his year of celebrations.
"Developed from an original brief by Andrew, this blend is a showpiece for the deep complexity that well-aged malt and grain whiskies from exceptional oak casks can deliver. It is composed of one-third decadent old grain whiskies aged in American oak; and spicy, smoky malt whiskies aged in both American oak and sherry casks. The combination is rich and complex, with the soft cushion of the old grain whisky providing an indulgent base on top of which the bold, smoky and dark fruit notes of the malt whiskies are placed.
"We believe this whisky is a fitting tribute to Kensington Wine Market and also to Alberta’s long history of enjoying, exploring and indeed smuggling fine whisky! But with partners as committed and knowledgeable as Kensington Wine Market in place there will be no need to smuggle this bottle into the province – and for that we are all grateful!
"However you source this whisky, wherever you drink it, whoever you share it with, above all, please share and enjoy.
Founder & Whiskymaker”
Andrew's Tasting Note
Nose: silky and sultry, soft vanilla and Earl Grey tea creme brule; savoury hints of pork belly, mouth watering gentle peat and salted caramel; clean tendrils of Manuka honey a touch of beeswax.
Palate: rich, fruity and smoky with building spice, rich dried fruits and dark chocolate; lots of layers, the decadent spices being the most dominant, followed by dried fruits: ranging from apricots and pineapple to raisins and figs; there is a touch of cocoa powder, bees wax and more indulgent Earl Grey infused creme brule; the grain adds a silky backbone that contrasts nicely with the touch of pork belly and soft ashy peat.
Finish: coating, creamy and decadent; the palate stays warm in the lingering light of fading spices, genteel ashy smoke and soft fruits.
Comment: we were hoping for a whisky that combined the firm peat of Flaming Heart, the rich spices of Spice Tree and the elegance of Compass Box's legendary older expressions; we got all that and more!
John Glaser's Tasting Note: "Rich and complex, with the soft cushion of decadent aged grain whisky providing an indulgent taste on top of which the bold, spicy and dark fruit notes are able to shine."
The following was written by Andrew Ferguson for the August 2020 Edition of Celtic Life Magazine.
Please note Compass Box is not an independent bottler, but they also aren't a distillery. They are Blendersm or as they like to point out, Whisky Makers!
It has been six years since I last wrote about the Compass Box Whisky Co. for Celtic Life International. With the plucky London based “Whiskymakers” celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, it seems like an appropriate time to revisit one of my favourite whisky companies.
In a world obsessed with single malt whisky, blended Scotch whisky continues to suffer from the stigma of the dreaded “B word” - blends. The blended Scotch industry reigned in the latter half of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century. However, the last two decades have belonged to Single Malts. Blended whisky is far from done, however; it continues to dominate sales in terms of sheer volume and, recently, consumers have been thirsting for interesting Blends. Much of the credit for this must go to Compass Box, and their esteemed impresario John Glaser.
I have known John for more than 10 years and I have been a fan of his, and his creations, for even longer. Compass Box has been pushing the boundaries of Scotch whisky for two decades, starting with their first ever release, Hedonism - a blended grain whisky that is a marriage of at least two different single grain Scotch whiskies. grain whisky is lighter, more delicate, and cleaner than malt whisky, owing to how it is made. It is often the base, or filler, for more commercial blends. However, that is not the case with Compass Box, where grain whisky is an accent, used to add delicacy and decadence. Hedonism is soft, elegant, and sinfully decadent, hence the name. Whisky drinkers weren’t even drinking single grains in 2000, let alone blended grains, and this is where John chose to make his mark and announce his arrival.
John is one of the most unlikely leaders in the Scotch whisky industry. A native of Minnesota, he studied winemaking and literature before taking a marketing job with Johnnie Walker, a position he thought would be temporary. The job took him to Scotland and eventually to London, where he worked with Diageo’s blending team. He had always hoped to make his way into winemaking but fell in love with Scotch whisky and the art of whisky-making. Over time, his passion outgrew the vision of his employers; John approached Diageo with a proposal to create a range of boutique blended Scotch whiskies, but they didn’t share his enthusiasm. So, he struck out on his own.
Hedonism was followed up with Asyla (a proper blend), Eluethera (a blended malt), and then his next big hit - the Peat Monster. I remember the first time I tried the Peat Monster; it was smoky and peaty, but not quite as intense as Laphroaig or Ardbeg. Most importantly, it was elegant and complex. That has been the signature of Compass Box whiskies over the past 20 years - “a forward-looking approach and an unrelenting desire to create quality.” They have experimented, pushed boundaries, challenged tradition, and ruffled feathers - as they did most famously with the release of the Spice Tree.
Their thirst for the art of whisky-making is what has endeared them to legions of fans, including yours truly.
One of the highlights of my time in the whisky industry was the creation of my own bespoke Compass Box Blend to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of my store, the Kensington Wine Market, in 2017. I didn’t merely select a cask or approve a bottling - I actually played a role in the creation of something unique, the Compass Box Kensington Wine Market 25th Anniversary Blend. During the year it took to dial in the recipe for its creation I had the privilege of being a whisky-maker - certainly a career highlight!
Compass Box Whiskies are found more widely around the world today than in the early days. Hedonism, Spice and Peat Monster are still available as part of a large stable of the company’s unique creations. Their limited annual releases are the most sought after and this year’s 20th anniversary spirits will be no exception. The first is Rogues’ Banquet, a superb tribute to both their many unique whiskies and their equally distinct patrons. In their words, “When we conceived the idea for Rogues' Banquet last year, we felt that a collection of our favourite Compass Box personalities and an opulent liquid would be the ideal means by which to begin our 20th anniversary celebrations. Rogues' Banquet is made for the gourmands and the hedonists who have accompanied us for the last 20 years.”