Compass Box Whisky

Posted by: on Mar 8, 2010 | 2 Comments

My whisky education has just really begun, and I am certainly no arbiter bibendi, but in the recent months I have really become interested in the myriad possibilities presented by Scotch whiskies and the almost infinite opinions and tasting notes I can find online to educate myself on said whisky.

Along this journey, I found Compass Box Whisky Company. Not single malts, but blended whiskies in all combinations of malt, grain, and some more unusual ingredients. The single malt purists may scoff, but they would be missing out on some of the best tipples I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.

Run by American ex-pat Mr. John Glaser, a former Johnnie Walker exec, Compass Box has been around since 2000 operating in South-West London. Everything is non-chill filtered with no caramel added, and Mr. Glaser takes great pride in the exceptional quality of the oak used to age all Compass Box whiskies. So yes, great craft-style Scotch Whisky made by an American in London.

To go through their whole lineup would be absurd, so I will highlight the three I am most familiar with:

This one is all Scotch Grain Whisky, and caught me completely off guard. Generally, I am not a fan of grain whiskies, especially American styles such as bourbon and sour mash, but this whisky blew me away. Rich, sweet but not too sweet, and almost like drinking a creamy, toffee-filled pastry. I just couldn’t shake the creamy, velvety mouth-feel which lingered for longer than I cared to count. Something totally unique and lovely – Well done Compass Box.

Spice Tree
There is a bit of a scandalous back-story here, into which I will not delve too deeply. Essentially, production of this whisky was halted and then not allowed for a number of years due to regulations on what can and cannot be labeled Scotch Whisky based on aging, make, etc. But now it is back, legally, and is quite an eye opener. 100% Highland malt aged in custom oak barrels with variously seasoned and toasted heads, which when blended create a depth that one could get lost in for hours. Spicy, complex, and with a range of flavors and aromas that could give any single malt a run for its money, and then some.

Not exactly a Scotch Whisky, but a Scotch Whisky “Infusion.” Made from Malt and Grain, infused with fresh orange zest and spices, its like drinking a Christmas cake (in the best way possible). Sweet, but in a natural citrus way rather than saccharine like some liqueurs. When I want a drinkable dessert, this is what I have been reaching for on my shelf these last few months. I expect that with a splash of soda or a small amount of chilled water, this could transition nicely from a winter warmer to a summer evening aperitif.

I highly recommend you check out Compass Box here, and see what else they have to offer. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for anything new that Mr. Glaser might grace us with in the future.


  1. Leslie
    March 8, 2010

    This is the best review of whiskey I've ever read. I think I'll try some.
    But you should really post your photo on this blog, Stephen, as you are such a handsome young man! Maybe use one with your absolutely beautiful girlfriend.

  2. Easy and Elegant Life
    March 22, 2010

    I can't recommend highly enough the single malts though. There is such a variety that you will never stop exploring. There is a taste for everyone and at prices for all pockets from Tamdhu to Glen Mustbesolidgold.

    That said, if I can find a bottle of the Hedonism, I'll give it a sip!


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