“Distilled elixir of battle, money and high life!“
The Lost Blend, O. Henry (1907)
The O. Henry short story, The Lost Blend, (link here) appealed to John Glaser for years. Keeping this story of friendship, a dream, true love, and a magical liquor in the back of his mind, he harbored a desire to concoct his own $1,200 cocktail that would make you feel as if you “put on a straw hat with a yellow band around it and go up in a balloon with a pretty girl with $8,000,000 in your pocket all at the same time.”
In 2004, Compass Box retired Eleuthera, a previous limited release, because they could no longer source the key whiskies. As a follow up to the lost Eleuthera, Glaser began working on a new blend that would fill the void for a “$1,200 cocktail“, and to which he could draw a link to story of The Lost Blend.
The Lost Blend
The Lost Blend is a Limited Edition of 12,018 bottles released in 2014. Like several others in this series of reviews, this is another 100% Blended Malt whisky, with this one composed of “single malt whisky (of a certain age) from the Clynelish distillery, a small cache of extraordinary whisky from the Allt-A-Bhainne distillery aged in American oak barrels and just a few years shy of two decades old, combined with malt whisky from the Caol Ila distillery”.
Let’s see what it’s like!
Color: Chardonnay, a light buttery yellow with gold tint
Nose: (Neat): Well, well, well, absolutely no question that there is peated whisky in this one! The first thing you smell as you approach the glass is a vibrant, herbal, and softly lemony peat. There is just a a whisper of campfire smoke, yet it doesn’t beat down the other flavors. Instead, with just a little patience, the peat allows some beautiful fruity notes – ripe orchard fruit notes of Fuji apples, crisp and fresh, Bartlett pears and a citric hint of lime juice. There is a delicate grassiness along with a honeyed sweetness that add a rich, roundness to the nose. Mint, and a touch of menthol, a hint of white pepper bringing out a sharpness, coconut surfboard wax, a soft oakiness, and a deep vanilla begin to show up after a few minutes. This is a wonderfully balanced nose where the various aromas rise and fall, shift and expand. Very, very lovely! I could spend a long time just nosing this whisky and be content! (With Water): The water puts more focus on the fruits, bringing out some berry notes – gooseberry and strawberry, and softening the citric notes. There is a touch more baking spice notes, particularly a nice sprinkling of cinnamon. The peat and the smokiness softens….now its more like a distant fire carrying the smoke on the breeze.
Palate: (Neat): A softly oily arrival that spreads quickly and coats the inside of my mouth. There is an initial burst of lemon juice, then the peat smoke explodes. As it settles, the ripe fruitiness becomes central. It becomes sweeter with vanilla butter-cream, honey, toffee-coated apples, and then some ginger spice and a hint of menthol smoke. There is a definite saltiness in the mid-to-late palate (With Water): The arrival becomes creamier rather than oily. The honey, butter-cream sweetness comes to the front and the tartness of the lemon becomes secondary. Continues to become sweeter – confectioners sugar, pastry frosting and sweet cinnamon. The fruits are still ripe red apples, but now I also get a strawberry, a touch of coconut.
Finish: Sweet fruits, a dash of the Lemon-citric note, it is softly tannic, smoky with a bit of sootiness at the very end. The finish is quite long with a fruity, delicately spiced, softly sweet-peaty smoke lasting for several minutes.
Overall: The Lost Blend is a great whisky, one that is right on the money for me. With a great nose and a beautifully rich mouth feel, it is well-balanced, complex, rich, evolving, and elegant. The peatiness was an initial surprise, but suited it to perfection. Like each instrument in a jazz band, each of the aromas and flavors had an opportunity for their solo, but made the whole even better. Water is not necessary, but doesn’t hurt, either. Really a fantastic whisky. As Lost Blend is a limited release, it looks like I am going to have to pick up another bottle or two before they are gone for good…and if you like a little peat in your whisky, I recommend you do the same!
Distillery(ies): Clynelish, Allt-A-Bhainne, Caol Ila
Type: 100% Blended Malt Whisky
Age: Not stated
Maturation: Not Stated
Price: $105 (Specs)
Availability: Currently on the shelves
Sample Source: My own bottle