A good friend of mine – an American who has lived in the UK for two decades – isa connoisseur of premium wines and spirits. So, when it comes tofurthering my own education – or buying gifts for true Scotch whisky fans – Iimmediately turn to her for guidance and good taste.
Herlatest recommendation – Great King Street by Compass Box Whisky – has become anew favourite of mine, and I love the story behind this unlikely London-basedwhiskymaker. Founded in 2000 by American John Glaser, who had for yearsworked with the Johnnie Walker brand in the UK, Compass Box is devoted toblending and bottling “rich, sweet, fat on the palate” whiskies – like noneI’ve ever tasted before.
CompassBox has three primary brands: Signature Range, Great King Street and Orangerie, aswell as a limited-release programme that changes year to year based onavailability. The Signature Range features five whiskies: Asyla (£36.50), Oak Cross (£39.50), Spice Tree (£44) and the cheeky Peat Monster (£43) and Hedonism (£64). But it is the newest, the Great King Street line (and the Artist’s Blend – £27 – in particular), that had me at first sip. Inspired bythe golden age of whisky making in the 19th and early 20th centuries,Great King Street fuses innovation with the best barrels (French oak and all-natural ageingare standard) and the finest ingredients – all without colouring or chillfiltering. The finished product is a high-strength drink that is bestenjoyed straight, but adds distinction to a classic cocktail.
Glaserhas been hailed as “one of the most progressive and innovative whisky blendersin this generation” by The Whisky Advocate, and has won Whisky Magazine’s“Innovator of the Year” award no fewer than four times – more than any other inthe business. Judging by his penchant for sourcing from 10 Scotch distilleries,he is clearly a craftsman who delights in finding new flavour niches. I hopeto enjoy more of his bold, unique blends as he creates them.