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. The first addition was a limited-edition New York Blend. Now, Compass Box is looking to add a second permanent blended scotch to the Great King Street lineup. To choose it, they’ve released (in Europe and Asia only, boo!) two Experimental Batch bottlings in a 500ml size. One, marked OO-V4 is partially sherried, and the other marked TR-06 is partially peated.
Compass Box being the cutting-edge innovators that they are, aren’t just offering two codenames and a set of tasting notes. They released specs, too (see below). I love me some whisky specs! Chris at Compass Box was kind enough to send a pair of samples to this poor benighted US whisky blogger, so that I might also take part in the future of Great King Street. Thanks, Chris! If you happen to be in Europe and want to try these for yourself, they’re retailing at around £32 for each 500ml bottle. Buy here and Vote here.
28% Lowland grain whisky
72% malt including a small amount of peated malt from Islay
Malt aged mostly in ex-sherry. Non-Chill-Filtered. No added color.
Nose: Bottling wax, cherry gummies, a thin cereal note like Frosted Flakes. A base of vanilla.
Palate: Sugar-frosted dried cranberries! No tongue burn at all, soft and pliable texture.
Finish: Short. Slightly sour fruit. Vanilla extract, slight oakiness. Fades without bitterness. Nice.
Overall: Easily drinkable straight. Nice, light fruitiness, soft grain. Perfect integration. Reminds me (a very little bit) of Hibiki 12. Would make an elegant Highball.
33% Lowland grain whisky
67% malt (1/3 of which is “from the village of Brora” AKA Clynelish)
Malt aged mostly in ex-bourbon, with some new french oak. Non-Chill-Filtered. No added color.
Nose: Peat! Earthy, twiggy peat without much smoke. An undercurrent of vanilla, and some baked goods – white chocolate blondies? A hint of caramel too.
Palate: Buttercream frosting. Evolving into mossy peat with a bit of seaweed and seawater coming through.
Finish: A little short for a peated blend, but longer than 00-V4. A tad hot. Earthy peat continues, mercifully without bitterness. Ends on vanilla.
Overall: Better than any other peated blended scotch I’ve had, but I prefer the 00-V4.
The V4 is like a creamy dessert with pleasantly tart fruit. The 06 is more like a high-quality version of Black Bottle, where the peat is present and well-integrated, but juxtaposes against sweet vanilla flavors. Somehow, this makes me think about dirt in vanilla ice cream, or vanilla custard on sushi… it just causes some low level of cognitive dissonance. I’m sure that’s my own weird tastes, though, since sweetness in peated malts is common. My vote? The sherried 00-V4. High-quality sherried blended scotch? Oh my yes!