A stunning modern blended whisky by Compass Box, which challenges our perception of what defines luxury.
Grain whisky was seen for many years as only being fit for bulking out blended whisky and the notion of quality grain-only expressions would have been laughed at. As any experienced blender will tell you, they have long known that good quality grain whisky is an essential component which binds together the malts in a premium blend. More recently grain has been bottled and sold in both single grain expressions and blended grain-only expressions.
It’s been too long since one of the Compass Box whiskies has featured on the blog, and that certainly isn’t down to a lack of new and interesting bottlings on their part. Last time we did take a look at one of John Glazer and Co’s releases it was a new addition to the company’s core range in the form of the Great Kings Street Arist’s Blend. This time around it’s a more limited bottling and 2012’s version of the much admired Flaming Heart.
This is the fourth incarnation of the company’s typically peated, annual blended malt and like the others this version has already found favour in a number of quarters. As before, this new version is composed of highland and Islay malts alongside Compass Box’s ubiquitous French oak, but this time a little sherry influenced stock has found its way into the mix. A comment must be levelled at the work that has clearly gone into the packaging of this release – and the vast majority of the company’s other bottlings for that matter, its simply beautiful; let’s hope the whisky is likewise.
By now you probably know Compass Box whiskies well; indeed since its inception in 2000 John Glaser’s self-styled boutique blending company has made quite a reputation for itself. Part of this must be down to their willingness to experiment and push at the boundaries of an often conservative industry, but its undeniable that quality of flavour lies at the heart of the company’s continued success. Blends such a Spice Tree, Oak Cross and the ever-popular blended grain Compass Box Hedonism display what the company is perhaps best known for; big, oak-forward whisky full of heady vanilla, spice and a leaning towards rich sweetness.
The Compass Box Great Kings Street series was introduced last year, in part to celebrate their first decade of business, with the debut bottling being this; the Artist’s blend. With this release Compass Box are sticking to their ever-present standards and avoiding chill-filtration and colouring (props for this as always), while attempting to produce an accessible, high malt content blend that will suit both those wishing to savour it on its own, or use it as a mixer.