Whisky Review – Compass Box Great King Street: Glasgow Blend

Along with the Lost Blend which I reviewed yesterday, Compass Box also introduced the second permanent whisky in their Great King Street range – The Glasgow Blend.

Mind you, it’s the second permanent whisky in this line but we had two  experimental releases during the summer of 2013 which the public was supposed to vote on which one it preferred to guide Compass Box toward the winning formula.

In my review of those experimental releases (see it here), I declared it was hard to choose between them; One was a peaty whisky and the other was sherried whisky but eventually I voted for the sherried one. But neither one match the description of Glasgow Blend, so I chatted with Chris Maybin of Compass Box on this subject.

What were the poll results on the experimental releases last year?

There was 16 votes between the two after around 3000 votes. The smoky version won but really the result was pretty much 50/50.

How did the experimental releases from last year impact this blend?

The Experimental releases impacted the make up of this blend a great deal. Tasting them and the feedback we received helped us realise that both smokey and sherry Experimental styles had a delicious character – indeed both were very well received – but both possibly lacked a little something. That got us thinking that perhaps we could combine them to get the best of both worlds!

Did you used one of them as the basis to the final Glasgow blend?

No, in concept, Glasgow Blend is very much a combination of both of them. The challenge was to find the right balance of smoke, sherry, fruity malt and sweetness from the grain. Despite the work we had done on the two Experimentals, it took a year and over 100 prototype recipes before we reached something we were happy with.

So here we are with the chosen blend formula, a smoky sherried blend to serve as a sibling to the original Great King Street blend. It is made from approximately 67% malt whisky from the regions of Islay, the Highlands and Speyside and 33% Lowland grain whisky from a Fife distillery (i.e. Cameronbridge). It is aged in a combination of first-fill Sherry casks, first-fill and refill ex-Bourbon barrels with a small portion of new French oak finishing.

Compass Box Great King Street: Glasgow Blend (43%, 50cl, £27.45)

glasgow blendNose: Malty, with hints of sherry goodness with sweet and tempting stewed fruits , dusty, bittersweet citrus, fizzy, some faint grain notes, creamy and rich. Over time it becomes sharper with some acetone and more grain-y notes.

Palate: Sweet peat, smoke, lemon and citrus, some light cherries liquid from cans, strawberry jam, , malt and cereal.

Finish: Medium long, sweet cherries at first then oak bitterness. Peat and smoke are a latecomers but they stat for long with not much sweetness.

Thoughts: This one is indeed sherried and peated, building upon both great features of last years’ experimental releases. It does have more smoke and peat on palate & finish than on the nose but overall a very well done blend. Again, another good job by Compass Box.


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