If you haven’t yet discovered Compass Box whisky it’s high time you did because the company produces some of the best Scotch blends on the market today.
And this month, the raptor-retinaed among you will have noticed we are running a really rather brilliant competition, and all you have to do is buy a bottle of Compass Box to enter!
The prize is superb – a bottle of the original, illegal Spice Tree, plus two very different whiskies from the company’s intriguing Canto Cask Range; Canto Cask 48 and Canto Cask 20 to be exact.
And even if you don’t win, every bottle of Compass Box you buy will be accompanied by a free dram of another Compass Box whisky. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just off to buy a bottle of Flaming Heart and… what’s that? I’m not allowed to enter?
Ok, unfair as that seems (there are only 250 chances after all) instead I’ll tell you a bit about Compass Box.
The company launched in 2000, the vision of American blender John Glaser, ex-marketing director at Johnnie Walker.
John started his career in the wine trade where blended products are celebrated as much as their single varietal cousins. With whisky however it was, and to an extent still is, single malts that get all the glory.
While (serious) blended whisky is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance at the moment, we can be honest and say that many can be a bit bland and characterless, the Snow Patrol of the whisky world if you will. And if I’m brutal about it, some blends are about as interesting as watching Nicholas Cage play Hamlet. Seriously, let’s pause and imagine that for a moment shall we, while staring at this picture:
"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty!"
But John Glaser and co have shown it doesn’t have to be this way by producing a whole range of arresting and award-winning whiskies.
In order to elevate blended whisky from its Peter Andre status, Compass Box threw out the rule book. Then they threw the bin containing the rule book into in the sea, where it was consumed by a variety of fierce maritime animals. Metaphorically of course… neither Master of Malt nor Compass Box condones littering.
These were blends with… how shall we put it? Balls. Yes, balls! The aim was not to make a mass market product to please everyone and their aunt Susan. No. These blends set out to amaze and impress, using only the most carefully-chosen casks from a handful of distilleries. There is no chill-filtering to rob the whisky of its flavour. There is no cloying caramel colouring added. This is serious whisky folks.
And unusually, there are very few components that go into Compass Box blends, which use just two or three whiskies as opposed to the hundreds you find in most mass-market offerings. This lets the character of each show through, with the aim of producing the perfect balance between pronounced elements instead of a homogenous mass.
Just as importantly, each blend is matured for up to 18 months in a variety of casks, which has an enormous effect on the final whisky. Compass Box demonstrates intricate understanding of how the wood and its prior contents will affect a whisky, and is keen on experimenting with various cask combinations, as well as types and toasting levels, to achieve the desired aim.
So what you are left with is a range of seriously-considered, expertly-constructed artisan blends that have few peers.
And now, with our competition in full swing, it’s a great time to see what the fuss is about.