I’ve mentioned in the past that we are fortunate here in the Dallas area that we have Trinity Hall, a wonderful little Irish Pub (run by an actual Irishman!) with a fantastic, and quite extensive, whisky (and whiskey) selection. It really helps that Marius Donnelly, the Chief Bottle Washer at Trinity Hall, also happens to a serious whisky fan himself. His personal enjoyment of good whisky led him to run a monthly tasting program that has been ongoing for nearly a decade. At these tastings we sample 6 whiskies, sometimes with a “surprise” 7th whisky, and also get some small tapas-style plates, all for just $35!
A Compass Box Tasting!
This month’s Trinity Hall tasting was a hosted tasting whiskies produced by the Compass Box Whisky Co., with Chad Wiltgen & Giacomo Butera Jr & Sr, functioning as our guides to the evening’s selections. Now I admit that I went into this tasting fully expecting to have a bit of a rehash of the core range of Compass Box whiskies, (because I hadn’t seen the list of whiskies on offer) with perhaps a “surprise” final whisky. Not that there is anything wrong with revisiting their standard releases, but given that Compass Box had just released a couple of highly publicized bottlings, I held out hope that we’d try one of them, too. Suffice it to say that I was mistaken! As you will see over the next few posts!
So I’m going to start out this small Compass Box series as we started out the tasting, with the Great King St. Glasgow Blend. Now, normally, you wouldn’t begin a tasting with a peated whisky, because they tend to co-opt your palate, but this was Compass Box’s show, so who am I to argue?!!
But before I get to the tasting notes – and specifically for anyone not familiar with Compass Box – John Glaser and Compass Box are exemplary in their commitment, as a whisky-maker, to the concept of transparency in their whiskies…..to their detriment, at times, as they now and again run afoul of the mighty Scotch Whisky Association – those guardians of the scotch whisky industry. And here, with the Glasgow Blend, Compass Box has once again provided a high level of information and detail that so many whisky nerds (including me!) enjoy. So, direct from their website, I’ve included both the graphic at right as well as their formal “description” of the whisky.
Our Great King Street range is dedicated to applying a contemporary approach to the creation of Blended Scotch Whiskies in the full-flavoured style of the late 19th century blending houses. To this, we lend a 21st century sense of exploration and innovation, for which the Compass Box Whisky Company is known, to create Scotch whiskies that surprise and delight people seeking great spirits.
Full, rich and smoky on the palate, with notes of baking spices and sherry wine notes.
33% Lowland grain whisky from a Fife distillery. 67% Malt whisky from the regions of Islay, the Highlands and Speyside. The Islay single malt comes from south shore distillery (approximately 20% of the total recipe), vatted with a fruity malt from the village of Brora and a rich sherried Speyside malt from the Aberlour region (approx. 33%). A small percentage of Speyside and Highland malts complete the recipe.
A combination of first-fill Sherry casks, first-fill and refill ex-Bourbon barrels and a small portion of new French oak finishing.
Bottled at 43%. Not chill-filtered. Natural colour
Okay, with that information in hand, let’s get on with the show and taste the Glasgow Blend!
Review: Compass Box Great King St. Glasgow Blend, Bottled circa 2015, 43% abv
Color: Moderate amber-gold
Nose: Starts with a deep, fragrant, earthy, oily peatiness that really provides the foundation for this whisky. Slowly, the peat gives way to a growing fruitiness – dark red fruits, ripe apples – then some honey, hints of baking spices, and vanilla. Water brings out more of the sweeter notes – the honey and vanilla, along with a hint of beeswax, but there is also some herbal spices notes, now. All this on top of the peat and smoke that remains evident throughout.
Taste: the arrival is full of a rich, creamy vanilla, with an expanding oak spice adding a needed layer. The fruits show up in the mid-palate along with a dusting of black pepper. The peat smoke picks up into the finish.
Finish: Rolls through spiced vanilla and the fruits before the peat and oil take center stage and stays there until the end, which is enjoyably long!
Overall: For me, Compass Box has another winner, here. This is a really enjoyable, reasonably priced, high malt content, blended scotch with a spot-on balance between the sweet vanilla, the spices, the dried and red fruits, and the peat. Plus, the peat is an earthy, “grimy,” oily, peat – reminiscent of the garage notes I find in Springbank – that I really like. This is not the first time I’ve tried the Glasgow Blend, but it’s been a while and coming back to it reminds me that the Glasgow Blend is really good!
Distillery: Cambus (?) for the grain, Teaninich, Dailuaine, Clynelish, and a couple of unnamed others, including a south shore Islay, for the malts.
Bottler: Compass Box Whisky Co.
Type: Blended Scotch
Maturation: See graphic above
Price: $40 (Total Wine)
Sample Source: Trinity Hall tasting