Great King Street: Experimental Batches

Compass Box is doing something very cool. After the incredible success (due in no small part to its very high quality) of Great King Street: Artist’s Blend, the company is expanding its blended scotch selection under the Great King Street label.

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Bowmore 10 “Devil’s Cask”

This is totally unlike the ‘Darkest’ 15-year, and in fact tastes much older and more concentrated. Instead of the wild, fungal brashness of Darkest, the flavors here are muted but sinewy, slow-moving but powerful.

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Bowmore 15 “Darkest”

When you think about sherry and peat, you generally think about Highland Park, with its light tickle of citrusy Orkney peat and gently sweet, fruity sherry. This is the opposite of both of those aspects. The sherry is resinous and funky, the peat muddy and vegetative.

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Caol Ila (12 year)

The nose is a little off-putting for me, even though I enjoy peat. The muddiness and earthy quality of the peat seems “lower quality” to me than the peat of other Islay distilleries. However, that all changes on the tongue, where the peat gives way to a very tasty chocolate note.

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Bruichladdich (10 year) – The Laddie Ten

With barley grown in Scotland, distilled and aged under Jim McEwan’s watchful eye, and bottled at a laudable 46% ABV without chill-filtration or added coloring, it was bound to make a big splash. It ticks all of the boxes for me: independent ownership, responsible quality-minded production, craft presentation, and all with medium levels of peat to better showcase the character of the spirit and the quality of the wood.

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Distillery Visit: Lost Spirits

My visit to Lost Spirits distillery in Salinas, CA, and my first taste of their unusual peated American single malt whiskey.

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Ledaig (10 year)

A nose overly dominant with peat is improved by better balance on the tongue and in the finish. While still less focused and more “dirty” (in the sense of the assorted unpleasant side-effects of peat) than similarly-priced Islays, there is reasonable complexity.

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Tobermory (10 year)

This is akin to 10 year-old Springbank in many ways – from the earthy “not quite smokey” peat, to the industrial oily notes, and the emphasis on barrel char. At around $55, there isn’t a lot of reason to recommend this 10 year-old.

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Glenmorangie Finealta

I’m not sure if this evokes the era of the Savoy Hotel or the Age of Enlightenment or whatever the website says, but it’s a fine, straightforward dram with a lot of refined flavor.

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Black Bottle Blended Scotch

Black Bottle tends to win a lot of awards and has quite a following, even among malt-heads. Oh, here’s the kicker: the bottle’s about $20 in the US. … Either way, I’m calling it a “Must Have” because you can’t find a better peated blend – or almost any blend, for that matter – for this price.

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