I don’t have the best experience with blends, I was the guy that
thought I was being cool and snobby got given a single malt and fell in love. I always thought blends were cheap and nasty (oh how wrong I was). Not having the greatest experience with blended whisky, I, like most, have come across some nice surprises and a few stinkers…. in my opinion! Now I’m a bit further into my whisky journey, I have learnt that blends are definitely not “inferior”. This ladies and gentlemen, is certainly the case when it comes to Compass Box.
Compass Box is the brainchild of American John Glaser, who previously worked at Johnnie Walker for a number of years. Glaser established Compass Box out of a “…desire to make great Scotch whisky more approachable and relevant to more people”. He has done this impressively, developing, discovering and creating inspirational whisky without compromise. To promote his whisky John travelled throughout London himself, visiting bars and pubs with samples to spread his passion. Cool or what?!
Some people like to know what’s in their whisky, so this is for you. Great King Street ‘Artists Blend’ is made of predominantly Lowland grain whisky (46%) and Northern Highland Single Malt (45%), with some Speyside Single Malt (9%) chucked in for good luck. The wood components used are first fill American Oak, new French Oak finish and first fill Sherry Butt.
This little gem was born to much acclaim, winning awards all over the flipping place, notably Whisky Advocates ‘Blended whisky of the year’. Numerous whisky-drinking friends have told me to try this well recognised blend, but I have never had the chance (which is a terrible excuse at this price)…. Until the gentleman that is Tom Thompson [ TomsWhiskyReviews & @ifotou] sent me a cheeky sample. Thanks Tomo! So onto the tasting.
Nose: Incredibly fresh and zesty. You could be tricked into thinking that this is a single malt quite easily (understandable with over half of it being so). The cleanness of this nose reveals vanilla, slight heather note and some sweet tropical fruitiness.
Palate: Like the first smell, the first taste gives me a little smile. Incredibly light on the palate (it is of course 40%), the fruit and vanilla notes are still there and they are nicely balanced together. After a few more tastes I get some cereal notes too, but not as much as others have said. There’s a small amount of spice hiding in there as well, which was a nice surprise.
Finish: Smooth, rich and delightfully delicate. The sweetness seems to mellow out a bit more and everything sits quite nicely.
You can see why this has become so popular. It’s a blend that reminds me of so many single malt qualities. I just can’t put my finger on exactly what. Having tried this in the middle of a heat wave (these notes go back to June!!), I hadn’t really been drinking much whisky. However, this little cracker seemed perfect. I didn’t care that it was over 30 degrees outside; somehow it was cooling me off. I now understand why it has become popular with cocktail drinkers too.
I really wish that I had come across something like this before delving into single malts. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic whisky that is suitable and quaffable for all, but I think it is the perfect kind of thing that can transform a whisky hating “Muggle”, into a Whisky Wizard! At less than £24, I will easily be picking up a bottle at some point and offering it to my “Muggle” friends.