Compass Box is a highly regarded whisky ‘releaser’. They release all kinds of whiskies that they generally blend in their London offices. I don’t call them a blender in the regular sense of the word since I think they’re more than that.
What they do is so much more crafty than releasing the next 20.000.000 bottles of Johnnie Walker Red Label that there is just no comparing them. Their releases are blends, blended malts, blended grains and I bet there have been some single malts over the years too.
A while ago I reviewed some whiskies from their core range, the Peat Monster, Oak Cross, Spice Tree, long before that I’ve reviewed some random releases of them too. I finished my bottle of Great King Street blended whisky and wouldn’t be surprised if I bought one again since it’s great, and very affordable.
In 2013, for me it came out of the blue, they released The General. A blended whisky that has a rather epic label and came in a fancy plastic museum like showcase. It scared me a little bit since upon release it already cost you £ 200 or so.
It sold out quickly and then the reviews started coming in. It turned out I should have bought it, according to the world. Luckily I could still participate in a bottle share of it so at least I get to try it.
The blend is unique since it’s not blended before bottling or blended young, but both. It consists of two parcels of blended whiskies that have been in oak for many years AFTER blending, and those two parcels were blended just before bottling. Funny, that.
On the nose it’s ridiculously rich with all the old fashioned scents that one could associate with whisky. There’s leather and pipe tobacco, arm chairs, oak, a hint of smoke and fruit. Spices too, of course. I get banana, nutmeg and clove. Dried apple, spiced cake, sherry, chocolate and cappuccino.
The palate is sharp and dry. Fruity again but more citrusy. Some orange and pomelo, lemon too. The spices are present, mostly baking spices and it packs a punch. It gets a bit thicker after a couple of seconds when you get your tongue around the alcohol. Peach syrup, oak, some vanilla. Leather and furniture polish. Very warming, very gentle although it’s pretty sharp.
The finish just screams ‘classic’. It’s very old fashioned, again with leather and all those flavors. It’s long with slightly more sherry shining through than before. The boozy fruit cake is back in full swing too. Candied fruits, maraschino cherries, rummy even.
I’m not one to quickly save money for expensive bottles like this, but in this case I wish I was slightly more so. This is a very, very good whisky that absolutely ticks all the boxes. It’s a bit more wintry than I am used to in blended whiskies, but that’s only adding to the perception of it.
The flavors are well married, it’s not a jumble of random senses being trigger, which is my main problem with blends. This one works. And it works well. The sherry is never overpowering and the strength of oak and all other flavors really shines. Damn…
I wish I had a bottle of this.
The General, 53.4%, Compass Box. Apparently it’s still available from obscure shops in France and Switzerland, but it’ll set you back some € 300