Day Three in the Whisky Advent Calendar

*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent.

compass-box-great-king-street-artists-blend-whisky-webCompass Box is one of my favorite Scotch blending companies. I have yet to experience a whisky from Compass Box that wasn’t wonderfully done.

Located in London, England, Compass Box was founded in 2000 by American John Glaser. They are a true blending only company, which means they don’t distill any of their own whiskies. Their blenders select whisky from across Scotland choosing the distillery, grain, and age to create a specific taste profile. It’s often aged further after the blending process.

If you’re not clear on the difference between single malts and blends, you can read a full explanation here.

Great King Street “Artist’s Blend” is a product of quite a few whiskies. And Compass Box is generous enough to be completely transparent on what that breakdown is.

Here is their explanation direction from their website:

compass box artist blend breakdown


The fact that it’s a blended scotch (mix of barley with other grains) means that it’s bound to be a bit mellower and smoother. Adding other grains to barley inevitably adds sweetness to the mix taking it further in the direction of an Irish Whiskey instead of the traditional heavier Scottish Malts.

The first thing I noticed in the nose was a heavy cherry smell. If you’re from the west coast, you may recognize it as the smell of Red Vines. Very weird thing to pick up, but once it stuck in my head, I couldn’t get it out.

It’s a bit too sweet for my taste, but it still has a nice dramatic punch on the back end with plenty of character. The oak flavor keeps it from being too boring and the caramel notes don’t overwhelm the taste.

I can only imagine that’s a combination of the Sherry barrel flavor mixing with the vanilla notes of new oak.

It’s dramatic for sure! I tried the Compass Box Spice Tree because I thought I remembered a similar taste, and I was right. The difference is that Spice Tree is a bit more mild and mellow.

I also picked up something I recognized from Irish whiskey. I detected hints of it in Redbreast Single Pot Still, but it is definitely its own animal.

Even if this is not your thing (like me), keep in mind that Compass Box should be represented on every whisky shelf. His motto could be “making blends cool again since 2000.” He’s an artist. This is a perfect example of that.