Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Compassbox–GKS and the Lost Blend

The Lost Blend is the latest signature blend from craft whisky blenders Compassbox, and caused quite a stir at the whisky show this year.  I’ve not covered the Great King Street set yet so this is a good opportunity to hit these, as well as the new blend.

Compassbox Great King Street - The Artist’s Blend, 43% A⊕

A  marriage of delicate Lowland grain and robust, complex Highland malt whiskies.

High quality oak, high proportion of malt and high quality grain.  Natural presentation.  

gks_largeNose - Immediately fabulous.  You have to try very hard to beat the nose on blends and this is a good one.  Dusty warm wax, floral floor polish, bags of ripe peaches, jelly snake sweets, custard tarts with candied lavender, warm, comforting and beautiful.

Body - Dry, then sweetly oaked, floral and just slightly peated.  A faint note of wet cardboard takes the edge off the opulence.

Finish - Long and floral, some apple and spicy oak.  Good oils and lingering balance.

What’s not good about it - The initial delivery doesn’t quite deliver the fruit bomb I was kind of expecting, but that’s more initial expectation management than a flaw.

What’s good about it - What a nose - phenomenal floral wax and fruit at this price point (or any).  The balance is pitched just right (of course) and the overall experience is considered and well delivered.  This is a wonderful blended whisky.

Compassbox Great King Street - Experimental Sherry 00-V4, 43% A⊕

I tried this and the V6 in The Whisky Exchange out of one of those small disposable shot glasses.  They really need to stop using those, it didn’t do this whisky justice at all.

gks_v4_largeNose - A very similar feel to the Artist’s Blend - a touch deeper on the sweetness, a touch more balancing peat on the nose.  Again, lovely wax and fruit, with a hint of jammy dodgers and glace cherry and a tiny bit of something meatier - tomato stew and tomato leaf, with long cooked bay.

Body - Sweet and brightly smokey - a real belt of bacon in here which repeats into the finish.  More cardboard, but overall a richer delivery that the Artist’s.

Finish - Long, sweetly spiced, toffee pennies and toasted sesame bar.  It’s perfectly balanced again.

What’s not good about it - If this is really the sherried one I’m not getting much sherry.  The nose on the artists is more expensively waxed.

What’s good about it - Rich, balanced and quite serious.  A better delivery than the Artist’s.  A good sessioner too, plenty to get involved with here.

Compassbox Great King Street - Experimental Smoke 00-V6, 43% A+

gks_tr06_largeNose - The peat dimension played nicely on top of the V4, with a balanced, rich but gentle cereal backing across the nose.  Sweet seafood, a touch of rope and now some fried raisins (as in pilaf) adding depth.  A sherried Caol Ila in there?

Body - Sweet, gentle peat and icing sugar.  Like a Big Peat turned down a few notches and balanced into a more toffeed, grainy blend.  

Finish - Medium and very Islay.  Straying into bitterness and an uncharacteristic faltering in balance at the end. 

What’s not good about it - The delivery isn’t one thing or the other, it’s overly sweet Islay and that’s good fun but I’m not sure when I’d turn to it.  The finish doesn’t hang together as expertly as its mate’s.

What’s good about it - Love the nose, really captures the sweet Caol Ila thing well while balancing it into something more gentle and considered.  Obviously still a very good blend.

Compassbox Great King Street - Glasgow blend, 43% A⊕

gks_gb_largeNose - The big, deep sweet nose is back with dusty toffee and floor polish to the front, backed off to bitter Islay peat.  Orange juice, dried orange peel, almond, shortbread and fresh marlboro lights tobacco.

Body - More pronounced peat, a little thin on the tip of the tongue but very good retronasal oils, wax and juicy orange with a drying, balancing wack of woody, herbal peat.

Finish - Medium, quite light but then lingering tobacco, peat, wood, wax and raisins.  Some bitterness but balanced with oils and syrup.

What’s not good about it - At a push, the integration isn’t quite there between all these elements.  But splitting hairs.

What’s good about it - Very complex, very interesting, excellent balance.  Most impressive.  The intense nose, light juicy delivery and rich finish is a very moreish combination.

Compassbox The Lost Blend, 46% A⊕

The first single malt blend from Compassbox was Eleuthera.  One of the component malts became unavailable, so the blend was retired.  John Glaser, “whiskymaker” at Compassbox, found a replacement and created this blend containing Clynelish, late teens Allt-a-bhainne and Caol Ila. 

When I was more involved in bands and music I used to be able to listen to any music and be able to dissect it, understand what was involved in producing it.  John Glaser must be the same with blended whisky. 

gks_lb_largeNose - Beautifully waxed, glace cherry, strawberry laces and tropical fruit juice.  Very ripe and deeply sweet, just the merest hint of balancing smoke.  The nose speaks of lots of age, excellent wood and total control of composition and balance.  

Body - Rich, ripe, deeply toffeed and incredibly intense and balanced.  Slightly sour tropical juice with a backbone of peat, apple pips and wet wood.

Finish - Swings between wet wood, peat and tropical fruit juice.  A little on the short side, but balanced throughout.  Lingering Islay peat right at the end.

What’s not good about it - That sour note in the tropical juice on the palate is an off note in an otherwise very well played chord.

What’s good about it - Phenomenal nose of big, old single malt.  Fascinating, intense, ripe and juicy.  Fabulous stuff.

Thanks to Compassbox for the samples!

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