Thanks to /u/throzen for the sample.
I recently went on and on about blends, stating how much I enjoy going back to them even though the scores are typically lower.
Note I say “typically” there, to denote a time when they aren’t lower, and to raise suspicion in my reader.
See, I too took English in high school, and I listened enough to eventually get an 80 on stuff and things.
I am, of course, talking about Compass Box (and my understanding of Hamlet). The current leaders of blended malt and blended whisky as far as most whisky nerds are concerned (feel free to disagree, I’d love to know of alternatives and try them too), Compass Box is one of those companies that I have built a connection to (in liking their products, not a personal one).
They are pushing out the old ways of the SWA that bar knowing exactly what’s in the blended whisky. Transparency lets whisky nerds know more about what they are drinking, what they like, and how to buy it.
And somehow, as someone who enjoys Compass Box, I haven’t reviewed one of their entry drams, Compass Box Glasgow Blend.
So why name the whisky after Glasgow? Turns out that a 1930s book called “Whisky” (because Marketing hadn’t been invented yet and people died quicker back then, so they got straight to the point), Aeneas MacDonald stated that Glaswegians (people who live in Glasgow) historically preferred fuller bodied and more flavour-packed whiskies than the rest of the world.
So when making a whisky in the style of a full-bodied, 19th century blending house, they named it after Glasgow. And made a picture on the front with the Wellington Statue, located outside Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art. And yes, that one has a traffic cone on it too. Turns out Glaswegians have a cheeky sense of humour.
Oh, and yes, you can find out exactly which whiskies make up this blend, and what casks they used. However we don’t know the age of each of them.
So this is meant to create a bolder whisky. And they do use some top level bold whiskies in it. But does it work? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $69.20 CAD at the LCBO
Composition: 34% Cameronbridge Grain Whisky (First Fill American Standard Barrel), 35% Benrinnes Malt Whisky (Sherry Butt), 17% Laphroaig Malt Whisky (Rejuvenated Hogshead), 8% Clynelish Malt Whisky (First Fill American Standard Barrel), 2% Miltonduff Malt Whisky (First Fill American Standard Barrel), 4% Highland Malt (Custom Toasted New French Oak)
The last one is “[a] marriage of malt whiskies produced at Clynelish, Teaninich, and Dailuaine distilleries, given a secondary maturation for a minimum of two years in our highly active new French oak hybrid barrels.”
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Cereal, cinnamon, floral/honey, bread, heather
Big nose here. A lot of blends have a lighter nose. Now don’t go expecting a huge blast in the face, however at 43% this is strong.
Lots of floral notes. It’s odd, I can have a hard time discerning heather and peat from one another. My father has the same issue. Here we have both, with lots of floral but also that Laphroaig kick. So it takes some time to really get all you can from this dram.
Taste: Honey, tea, cilantro, ginger, malt
Honey ties to the nose on this one. It has a heat to it. A vegetal type heat. As of tasting this, I was well. However as of writing this, I am coming off of a cold (yeah, backlogs of reviews), so I can see what past me was thinking. And now future me gets to explain that. However for all of us, there’s only ever present me.
Malty, heat, and honey with some tannins. I wish the tea part wasn’t there as much. Though I do like the honey.
Finish: Heather/smoke, earth/radish, orange rind, dark chocolate
Interesting finish. So I enjoy that they’ve gotten a bitter dark chocolate, however I’ll say (and this is being someone who used to use “bitter” too much) the bitterness takes over too much.
Conclusion: So we have a lighter dram. To me. However we have some strong flavours in light terms.
I think it’s the best you can make to make a strong whisky still palatable to the world at large. And I can see what they were doing here. Nothing about this is subtle. And nothing is rough like other blends at the same price point.
That said, I want a cask strength version. I want this to be the big, brash whisky I was promised. This isn’t that. It is nice to sip on, full of honey, and a nice nose.
Scotch review #755, Blend review #82, Whisky Network review #1245