Fiddich Review Centre
Scotch Whisky

Compass Box and the art of premium whisky blending

Compass Box’s John Glaser, born in Minnesota and a graduate of Miami of Ohio, wanted to become a winemaker. After working in retail and wholesale in Burgundy and the Napa Valley, he joined the marketing department of Johnnie Walker in New York.

“They sent me to Scotland and, visiting the Talisker distillery I fell in love with whisky. I was offered some Talisker straight from the cask, drinking it from a glass measuring cylinder right there in the warehouse. It was an epiphany for me. I learned what blending was all about, meeting industry legend Maureen Robinson”

Glaser hasn’t had his nose out of a nosing glass since, he founded Compass Box from his London kitchen table in 2000, producing whiskies such as The Spice Tree, The Peat Monster, and Hedonism.

The maverick whisky-maker has become known for discovering unique whiskies used to create limited editions, such as Optimism, The General, The Lost Blend, Morpheus, the Canto Cask series, the three-bottle Myths and Legends as well as Delilah’s, created in partnership with Chicago punk bar owner Mike Miller.  

The Circle no 2 whisky
The Circle No 2 is made from whisky from the Speyburn, Glen Elgin, Teaninch, Linkwood and Ardmore distilleries

Blended whisky is not just Dewar’s, Ballantine’s and Chivas.

“I realised that blending is really about creativity. It’s about putting a creator’s touch to whiskies from different distilleries to make something that no single distillery can create. That captivated me. What could we create if we blended with only the best whiskies, well-matured in great casks? Why couldn’t we make whiskies just as compelling as the best of the single malts? This is what inspired me to start Compass Box.”

Glaser purchases single malt and single grain whiskies from distillers in different regions of Scotland and creates high-end blends from them.

For instance, Hedonism uses single grain whisky from the Cameron Bridge Distillery and the Port Dundas Distillery; The Peated Monster combines older Islay malts; The Spice Tree custom-made new French oak casks; and, first released in 2006, Flaming Heart was the first whisky to combine the rich, complex spice of Scotch aged in new French oak with the evocative peat-reek smoke of Islay malt whisky.

The Circle No 2 is made from whisky from the Speyburn, Glen Elgin, Teaninch, Linkwood and Ardmore distilleries. “We release seven year-round, and then around four different limited editions each year,” adds Glaser. Every genre-defying Compass Box whisky is an artisan blend agreed to Glaser’s specifications, in various casks with various finishes. They are the acme of the modern art of premium whisky blending.

John Glaser Compass Box whiskey
Glaser founded Compass Box from his London kitchen table in 2000, producing whiskies such as The Spice Tree, The Peat Monster, and Hedonism

The Story of the Spaniard is no-age-statement blended malt aged in former Sherry casks. Glaser recommends it sipped neat, or in a ginger ale Highball, garnished with an orange peel alongside a plate of Spanish cured meats.

A serious whisky with a light-hearted side, The Glasgow Blend’s label depicts the city’s Wellington statue wearing a traffic cone.

Ardgowan’s Max Macfarlane’s Speyside and highland whisky blend aged in first fill Oloroso sherry casks Clydebuilt Shipwright, The Lowland Triple Distilled Glasgow 1770 Single Malt Scotch Whisky; Old Particular Dailuaine from Douglas Laing and Co; and SMWS 112.55 – The Devil in Pink Silky Pyjamas – are just some of the new, there-to be discovered or rediscovered and re-purposed single and blended whiskies which make the whisky world such an exciting space.

Lauder’s Scotch Whisky is made by a company which can be traced back to Glasgow’s Royal Lochnagar Vaults in 1934, making it one of the oldest blended Scotch whiskies still available. The Vaults also had a barber shop where you could have your haircut with your dram.

Hedonism whisky
Every genre-defying Compass Box whisky is an artisan blend agreed to Glaser’s specifications, in various casks with various finishes

London-based Glaser added: “One of the things we are most excited about is that we are beginning to make products from whiskies we laid down into our own casks seven and eight years ago.

“That was when we started filling our own casks each year, filling six or seven or eight different distilleries each year. We’ve always worked by purchasing aged whiskies from distilleries, which we still do, but we are now just beginning to augment that with whiskies we’ve had control over from the first day of maturation. The casks we source are quite special, particularly the custom casks made for us in Missouri, and we are constantly experimenting with new cask types and new distillates.

“It’s a process of iteration and it can take up to 50 or 60 different iterations – different prototypes – before we finalise a new recipe. It’s like what Manfred Krankl once said about his Sine Qua Non wines. That each wine is like its own little poetic biosphere.

“We have a Picasso quote on our wall in the new blending room: ‘I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.’ That pretty sums up our creative process.”

Alter your blended whisky compass and re-set your premium whisky compass now.

compassboxwhisky.com

Source link

Related posts

Glenfiddich reimagines time through its rare aged whisky

Mandy

Kings County Distillery, New York City’s Oldest, Largest Premier Whiskey Distillery, Announces New Blended Bourbon

Mandy

Flavoured rum: surfing the wave

Mandy

Leave a Comment