Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 9

9 12 2015

Compass Box!!  I was quite excited to pop open door #9 and find one of my favourite value plays staring back at me.  This blended scotch whisky clocks in at a scant $53, making it the cheapest bottle in this year’s Advent lineup to date by a wide margin, yet it has the substance and dexterity to become the weeknight warrior whisky of your dreams.  Don’t like blends, you say?  Get over yourself.  Our collective manic obsession over single malts (whiskies made only from malted barley made from a single distillery) has turned well-made blended whiskies (made from a mix of malted barley whisky and grain whisky from multiple distilleries) into the prime values of the spirit world, and Compass Box does blends up right.  CB is a boutique blender that obtains spirits from a variety of top distilleries and crafts its own distinctive lineup of bottlings, known to me for sporting some of the best labels in the industry.  This bottle, the Glasgow Blend from their Great King St. line of whiskies, uses a high proportion of malt whisky and ages all of the grain whisky it uses in first-fill American oak barrels, which beefs up the body of the grain spirit and adds fullness and sweetness to it.  I defy anyone to try this and say that it deserves to be priced at half the cost of an equivalent single malt.

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The Glasgow Blend is a peated and sherry cask-aged scotch, but each of these potentially powerful flavour influences is held carefully in check.  There is brine (sherry) and iodine (peat) on the nose, but as supporting players to an otherwise bright and friendly aroma set of beeswax, baked apple, golden raisin, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and maple walnut.  Smooth yet zesty, it livens up the tongue with sweet honeycomb and lemon meringue balanced by ocean spray and a smoky, burnt-wax note like blown out birthday candles.  The sweetness lingers on the finish along with a subtle warmth from the 43% alcohol.  This isn’t the most complex and esoteric whisky on the market and it isn’t trying to be, but it is a highly satisfying dram, carefully made, and it costs a shade over $50.  Sign me up.

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