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Compass Box Asyla

Average score from 7 reviews and 21 ratings 84

Compass Box Asyla

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@Pierre_W
Compass Box Asyla

Asyla is a blended Scotch whisky from Compass Box that was first released in 2001 and is made of 50% malt whisky and 50% grain whisky. The exact composition is as follows: 5% malt whisky from Glen Elgin (matured in refill hogsheads), 22% malt whisky from Linkwood (matured in first-fill American standard barrels), 23% malt whisky from Teaninich (matured in first-fill American standard barrels), and 50% grain whisky from Cameronbridge. The whisky’s name «Asyla» comes from the plural of asylum, a word that according to Compass Box is «rich in ambiguity, suggesting that delicate balance between madhouse and sanctuary…». Well, why not. In 2018 Compass Box announced that Asyla would be discontinued due to a lack of appropriately matured stock of the key malt whiskies contained in the blend. They would not rule out however that it might make a comeback in the future.

The nose is very rich and lush. Vanilla and fudge flavours take centre stage, together with notes of nougat, burnt marshmallows, and cereals. There is also a hint of lemons. All in all, this is a gorgeous, sweet and «yummy» nose.

The palate is medium-bodied and a bit spicy at first, then is hit by a wave of vanilla, fudge and nougat flavours that roll over the tongue. Very round mouthfeel that becomes almost oily. Later on, there are more malty as well as grassy flavours.

The finish is long and warming. The grassy flavours are back, followed by hints of vanilla and lemon.

This is a sweet, lush and very drinkable whisky. No doubt the 50%-50% split between malt and grain whiskies is working well here and has resulted in this well balanced, sweet blend. Compass Box suggest that Asyla is to be enjoyed before dinner or on a Sunday afternoon – well, I can certainly imagine myself doing that.

Thanks for the review @Pierre_W .

How would this hold up against, say, JW Black?

@Pierre_W, thanks for your lovely review. I have been a fan of Asyla since I first bought a bottle in 2011. Jean-Luc's Connosr interview with John Glaser revealed that Asyla was Glaser's own favourite "Desert Island" whisky. Some time later, in 2012, I myself asked John Glaser if it were still true that Asyla was his Desert Island Dram. He confirmed that it was.

And it doesn't surprise me that Linkwood represents nearly half the malt contained in the blend: Linkwood makes great malt.

@Victor

Compass Box pater familias John Glaser has repeatedly called Asyla his 'desert island whisky'. This is blended Scotch with Clynelish as its malt base. The reviewed bottle has been open 2 1/2 years, is 75% full, and has been preserved with inert gas for the last 15 months

Nose: smells a lot like Clynelish, all right, with the citrus being quite well-integrated with other grassy barley-malt flavours. This is medium-sweet with a smooth and seamless integration of flavours, including a nice floral touch of rose petals. Peat is light but is noticeable if you look for it

Taste: the nose translates well to the palate. This is light and easy-drinking. This is a blended whisky of which you strongly taste the Clynelish base-malt. Very pleasant and very light

Finish: medium length for most of the flavours, but it also extends longer into a sweet glow

Balance: the balance is quite good, as long as one understands that citrus is strongly emphasised in Asyla

@Eirikur

I´ll keep this short. When I reach out for a blend, I always intend to go and explore my cabinet, take my time with this and that ... I do, and usually I am left neutral. In the end my hand always reaches for this wonderful blend. John Glaser did a work of art with this blended whisky. It is easy, yet complex .. it is soft, yet full of flavours. You have to try this blend.

Short and to the point, enough so that I am inclined to try this. Thank you.

@TheConscience

For some reason the internet does not care for Asyla, and not enough praise is heaped upon this wonderful whisky. Aggregate scores from several sites reveal a competent blend, though reviews of it are often saddled with the derision of 'entry' or 'beginner' dram. More on that later.

Asyla is a blend of 50% malt and 50% grain - the single malts from Glen Elgin, Linkwood, and Teaninich, and the grain from Cameron Bridge. All component whiskies are aged in bourbon casks and then married/blended for one year. There is judicious use of first-fill American oak for wonderful sweet, rich, vanilla notes.

Nose: effete. Honey, green apple, vanilla, sweet grain, and trace citrus.

Palate: very soft and smooth. There is a sweet-tart interaction from the honey and green apple notes, with an underlying sweet oak, grain and mild vanilla profile. Adding a few drops of water enhances the sweetness. I could drink this all day.

Finish: sweet apple fades to dry spice in an otherwise short finish. A very refreshing dram altogether.

Now, back to the topic of denigration. Very often I see this whisky described as 'beginner' or 'entry level'. The subtext in these cases is clear - the whisky in question is great for noobs and novices, but those with experience should move on.

I don't get it. What makes a whisky 'beginner'? That it's smooth? Easy to drink? Soft? Unchallenging? So, Talsiker 10 must be an 'entry' malt, right?. I found it quite smooth and fresh when I first sampled it (still do). My 'entry' malts were Lagavulin 16 and Macallan 18. Many on this site got started in whisky on Laphroaig, of all malts. The entire concept of a 'beginner' whisky seems bizarre to me - I would just as soon recommend Talsiker as I would Asyla to a scotch neophyte. Moreover, such descriptors label the whisky as something unchallenging or fit only for beginners. Let's just call this a fine whisky and leave it at that. And next time I see a reviewer label this as 'beginner' I'm going to cyber-punch them in the mouth.

'Cyber-punch them in the mouth'? A tad aggressive.

I am completely with you, though, that many outstanding whiskies are looked down upon by the 'big flavours' crowd, BECAUSE they DO NOT 'punch you in the mouth'. Whiskies like Aberlour 10, Dalwhinnie 15, and yes, Johnnie Walker Blue and even Gold, are just not flavourful enough for some people to consider them attractive. I am a "big flavours" guy myself, but I do like all of these whiskies, and I do very much like Compass Box Asyla, Oak Cross, and others.

I met John Glaser about three months ago when he was doing a presentation to a bunch of liquor tradespeople in Baltimore. I was the only person in the room of 25 who was not an industry pro, but an enthusiast, as a guest of one of the store owners. I asked about half of all the questions asked of him, including, "Is Asyla still your own personal favourite among all of the Compass Box products?" His answer was "Yes, Asyla is still my 'desert island' whisky."

A wonderful anecdote, and a wonderful question on your part. I now recall hearing (from a youtube clip I believe) that the man himself, John Glaser, had remarked that Asyla was his favourite of the range. It had completely slipped my mind until you mentioned it in your post.

Well, there we have it.

I was also not aware of this 'big flavours crowd', but it makes sense given the ways in which whisky preferences trend. I do enjoy big flavours but, like yourself, overall quality (big or subtle) is more important.

c

My first review. Here we go!

Nose: Very light and pleasant. Flowery. Taste: Fairly sweet, but not overly so, with a nice mix of honey and vanilla. I liked the consistency. Finish: More vanilla. smooth and pleasant to savor. This was my favorite part of the tasting.

With water: I did not like this with water. It was too light on the palate and then overwhelming on the finish. I may have added too much water so I will retry in the future and post an update.

@galg

Nose: lemon , apple on a pillow of malt and grain. Sweet and wee zesty like granny smith apples. Vanilla custard. Palate: light, the grain sweetness is prominent in top of apple peel. Honey, oats malt and light fruit. Light. Finish : light sweet and fruity with oak.

Bottom line: Summer dram definitely , light refreshing pre meal or as a cocktail. Very nice for starting the evening. I’d love to see the ABV% go up to let’s say 48-50%, this whisky deserves it.

@markjedi1

What’s special about Asyla (which is the plural of asylum… the old crazy people’s home) is the fact that it is a blend of 50% single malt on the one hand and 50% single grain on the other. It matured on American oak and was bottled without colouring or chill filtration. The single malts: Cragganmore, Linkwood & Glen Elgin – the single grains Cameronbridge en Cambus.

The nose is rather dry with lime, apple, bananapeel, melon and the obligatory vanilla. The whole is softly spiced and reveals a touch of eucalyptus and pencil shavings. Rather light and, truth be told, rather simple.

On the palate it is quite oily, but immediately drying with soft touches of melon, banana and almonds. Grainy with woodruff (wood what?! It’s a winter herb that spreads a sweet scent comparable to mowed hay). A hint of mint?

The finish is short and dry. Not very impressive.

This bottle is quite affordable, but the least of the Compass Box expressions I’ve tasted so far.

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