Friday, 16 December 2011

Great King Street The "Artist's" Blend Scotch Whisky

Compass Box is a specialist Scotch whisky company that are devoted to making some of Scotland's premier whiskies through the art of blending.

Working like fine wine negociants they choose individual casks of whiskies from different distilleries that offer complementary sets of flavours, and then carefully blend these casks in small batches to make their proprietary whiskies.

They bottle a range of types of Scotch whisky: malt whiskies, grain whisky, malt & grain blends. But at the core of everything is a desire to bring out a purity of flavour, richness and drinking experience that will call you back to the glass. To me, this latter point is the true measure of a whisky's quality.

Their whiskies have unusual names like THE PEAT MONSTER and HEDONISM, and the labels are contemporary in style. It's all part of their vision: taking a contemporary approach to a traditional product. 

What if Compass Box was to apply its  whiskymaking principles to a line of Blended Scotches? That is exactly what they are doing with Great King Street. The first release is called 'Artist's Blend'.Five key things set apart their approach to making 'Artist's Blend' from any other Blended Scotch Whisky brand.

1. Great Grain. First, start with the very highest quality single grain Scotch whiskies. Grain whiskies are the foundation of good Blended Scotch. The grain whisky is from a renowned Lowland distillery and all of it is aged in 'first fill' American oak barrels, which makes the grain whisky much richer and sweeter on the palate than those aged in larger, refill casks.

2. More Malt. Secondly,  a higher proportion of malt whisky than most other Blends. 'Artist's Blend' consists of almost 50% malt whisky, far more than the 30 or 40% most blends use. This provides more character and complexity.

3. Better Oak. At Compass Box they are known for their  fanaticism about quality oak casks. Every cask of whisky used to make 'Artist's Blend' is of a much higher quality than is typical in Scotch whisky: first-fill American oak casks, first-fill European oak ex-Sherry butts and, something no other Blended Scotch uses, new oak. In this case, new, heavily-toasted French oak.

4. Bottled Naturally. Unlike any other Blended Scotch whisky known of, 'Artist's Blend' is bottled at its natural colour (no E150 colouring agent added at all!) and without the chill filtration prior to bottling that most Scotch whiskies go through. This leaves the whisky full of its natural complexity and mouthfeel.

5. Traditional Strength. the 'Artist's Blend' is botteled at 43% alcohol by volume, a strength traditionally used in Scotland many years ago. We bottle at this strength so 'Artist's Blend' has more presence and character when mixed with soda as a Highball, or in cocktails.

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