Happy National Scotch Day everybody!
In honor of a “holiday” I can really get behind, I dug out a bottle that I think represents the way whisky production should be done.
Yes, it’s a blend. But those of you who have read my previous reviews (or have tried a Compass Box product yourselves) will know that’s certainly no problem at all. This particular blend is an excellent example of the art of whisky blending in peak form. Plus, it’s a delicious, affordable, and versatile dram. What’s not to like?
Those of you who have been following me for a while probably know about my emphatic support for Compass Box’s campaign for whisky transparency. On National Scotch Day, this is the kind of campaign we should all be supporting as we raise a toast to (and with) our favorite drams. Want to know more? Check out my previous post on the subject, and be sure to visit Compass Box’s own site for details (and to sign the pledge, if you haven’t already!).
Anyway, on to the tasty stuff!
Great King Street is a line of blended whiskies from Compass Box. Designed to incorporate a range of flavor profiles while remaining approachable and suitable for sipping or mixing, these are reasonably priced, readily available spirits. The Glasgow Blend is the peaty version, and I’m quite partial to it (as you could probably figure out already). In true Compass Box style, the component whiskies are all disclosed on the company’s website (in a handy infographic, too!)
It’s composed of sherried whisky from Benrinnes (about 1/3 of the volume), blended with peaty whisky from Laphroaig. This is rounded out with a little Clynelish, a bit from Miltonduff, and a drop of a proprietary blend of Clynelish, Teaninich, and Dailuaine that were married together in new French oak casks. These malts are blended with grain whisky from Cameronbridge, composing roughly another third of the total volume.
The blend really works for this one, with the peaty notes of Laphroaig marrying surprisingly well with the lighter and fruitier notes of the other component whiskies.
Nose: Light (and getting lighter as it sits in the glass). The peat is there, but it doesn’t lash out at you and accost your senses (an experience I enjoy, but it’s not for everyone). The Iodine-y, medicinal notes of Laphroaig are there, but they’re mild, blended with earthy smoke and some softer aromas. There’s some apple, vanilla, and a bit of chocolate fudge there as well. With a drop of water, I get aromas of vanilla, honey, and pears. The peat fades away almost completely, leaving behind just a pleasant note of damp earth.
Taste: There’s the Laphroaig! The phenolic “thump” is there immediately, but it’s not overly brash. The Grain, Highland, and Speyside whiskies mellow it substantially, while bringing their own flavors. I get some tar, burnt rubber, and dry, medicinal peat from the Laphroaig, coupled with plenty of fruitiness. There’s apple, plums, and a little grapefruit tartness, along with a hint of black cherries. The finish is very dry, with some astringency that reminds me of toasted walnuts. The medicinal notes disperse quickly, but a dry smoke lingers with tart cherry. A drop of water brings out a little more sweetness – I get pears and some milk chocolate – but also introduces a bit of a metallic tang that actually works quite well with the smoky element in this blend.
This whiskey is delicious neat, but it also stands up quite well in a number of Scotch-based cocktails. Seriously, try a Rusty Nail with this – it’s awesome. Or if you’re feeling particularly offbeat, it makes for a uniquely tasty spin on a Rob Roy, too. However you like to drink it, this is a whisky that any Scotch fan should have on his or her shelf.
Question of the Day: What’s your favorite blended whisky?