Compass Box was founded in 2000 by John Glaser and has premises in London and Edinburgh. Their ethos is to buy whisky from a small number of distilleries and then craft them together into a unique product. All are produced and released in small batches, often using only two or three whiskies to create a new product, and all are then given a catchy name. By doing their own blending and vatting, Compass Box have less restrictions than traditional independent bottlers and they are a widely regarded as one of the most innovative whisky makers in the industry.
John Glaser comments: “The Glasgow Blend involved the creation of over 100 recipe prototypes before we finalised it. We’ve been trying to make a blended Scotch like no other on the market today, something based on the traditional Scotch whisky styles of peat smoke and sherry cask aging, but reinterpreted for today’s drinkers who seek big flavours, complexity and fullness on the palate.”
The Glasgow Blend is bottled at 43% ABV, is non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It is available now in the UK and Europe, and will follow to the USA and other key markets in November. The recommended price is around £30/€36.
Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose displays a nice combination of aromas. Punchy peat, which has an earthy and spicy edge, appears first and is followed by sweeter aromas. These include honey, brown sugar and dried fruits (think of sultanas, currants and candied peel), and they are backed up by some robust bittersweet malted cereals.
On the palate, this has a very nice balanced mouth feel. It is soft and gentle with some slightly feisty peat smoke breaking things up. There is a lovely initial note of crumbly brown sugar and golden syrup, and this is backed up by some lovely dried fruits - imagine the sultanas and candied peel from the nose especially - and malted barley. The peel has a definitive orange quality to it now. The peat smoke is never far away and has a warming and earthy nature to it. The smoke becomes softer and mingles well with the other elements. Final hints of ginger and cinnamon further add to the depth of flavour.
The finish is delicious and the smoky elements last longest. The sweet honey and dried fruit notes and the malty cereal character compliment the smoke superbly, as does the earthy and warming spices. The smokiness takes an age to fade and leaves a pleasant dryness in the mouth.
What's the verdict?
The Glasgow Blend is another excellent offering from the guys at Compass Box. It is not the most complex of whiskies, but then it is not designed to be. It offers a superb and rounded blend of lovely sweet, malty and smoky characteristics and good value for money for the quality of whisky. The Glasgow Blend also contrasts the style of original The Artist's Blend, which is lighter and fresher.