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Compass Box Great King Street - Artist's Blend

Average score from 11 reviews and 34 ratings 85

Compass Box Great King Street - Artist's Blend

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@Georgy
Compass Box Great King Street - Artist's Blend

Nose: first impression fruity and candy-like, a remote note of kiwi fruit, really beautiful herbal aromas of tarragon, mint; vanilla; tons of vanilla; with a slight drop of water I get more zesty herbal tropical fruit notes; lemon, apples.

Taste: complex, tropical fruit vanilla cream; smooth; pears; apple.

Finish: long with wonderful notes of vanilla ice-cream at the end;

Overall impression: Awesome blended scotch which, in my opinion, can be a wonderful introduction into the world of whisky for someone who hasn’t tried whisky before (heck, even my grandma loved it, and she hates whisky). It will most certainly not leave any whisky-drinker disappointed. Love life, love whisky! Compass box – you’re awesome!

After a week or so of tasting this, pears become more apparent on the nose and on the palate as well. Fresh pears, duchesse pears (in Russia there is actually one soft drink which is called Duchesse - so I get a similar tasting note from this whisky). Really yummy stuff.

@BlueNote I think that this blend is truly lovely. It is complex, fruity, creamy, bottled at 43%, non-chill, makes for a nice everyday quality blended whisky experience. I mean what else would you want? For a blend - I consider such a high mark justified. =)

B

A good value for money dram again (review the Tomatin 18 just before). Bought a 50 cl bottle for 22 eur (!) on a site online and for that money it is a very good whisky!

Nose: Pear! There is some fruit in the nose, but the most evident is pear. It is different and quite interesting. Palate: Creamy, quite rich and the pears arrive again. Lemoon and butter and some spice. Finish: spicy finish. Medium length. Fairly good balanced whisky.

Good value for money. Not a whisky I will remember for a long time, but sitting at a campfire with good friends it will work very well. If you find it for 22 eur like I did you should buy it!

@Nock

This is from a 375mL bottle I bought in November of 2012.

Nose: Very fruity indeed! Tons of bright acidity from citrus brings out the apple and peach. It is like a fruit salad with bright fruits like raspberry, strawberry, lime, orange, kiwi, guava, and mango all in a big bowl. All of that fruit rests on a subtle bed of malt with only a whisper of smoke in the background. Well crafted blended nose this one.

Taste: Again there is ton of fruit here with a hint of something off . . . not bad but not great. I think a hint of smoke on the back end might bump it up a bit.

Finish: A nice blast of honey and vanilla with a hint of smoke in the background. Yup, another wave of that honey vanilla. Not quite my thing. I would have liked more smoke. The spices are dark and low here very unlike Teachers’. The peat and smoke fall right between Teachers and Grants. Almost hints of sherry with some of that dark fruit.

Complexity, Balance: More complex then Teachers; on par with Grants. I would say it is almost on par with Grants for balance, but for the very plain and dull arrival on the tongue. If this is an artisan crafted blend then blends are not for me. I can’t stand all this tip-toeing around; give me something bold and pungent! I guess the point is lost on me.

Aesthetic experience: I really like that this is made by John Glaser at Compass Box. The bottle is cool (especially being able to by it at 375mL) and the label is ok in a retro-20’s style. I like the 43% but wish it were 46%. And I like the ncf without color in theory. However, I like that I can but Teacher’s into my decanter and it looks fantastic. Can’t do that with “Mr. Hazy” here.

Conclusion: I really wanted to like this blend. I really want to like Compass Box. However, the more I try this style the more I know that I am not a blend guy. I wish I were. I don’t like the snobbery of drinking “single malts.” That said, it is the style I like. This tasting with Compass Box kept me from buying Flaming Heart this weekend. In theory I would love . . . but as a Blended Malt (or Vatted Malt) I know it will be too delicate and refined for me. Glad I got to try a 375mL of this guy. Won’t buy again.

@conorrob I have heard great things about the Hibiki 17 (and the bottle looks cool). It just isn't anywhere to be found in my "buying region."

@tabarakRazvi I am very interested in the Flaming Heart. It sounds like a "crafted Brora" (Clynelish mixed with Laphroaig? Sounds awesome!) and I love me some Brora! But after tasting this and reading John's description . . . I have too much doubt. So I passed on my opportunity to buy it. However, I personally would love to read a review of yours when you decided to pop it open. Hedonism - it does not sound like my kind of thing at all. And I honestly haven't paid attention to anything about Orangerie.

To me, blended malts always sound fun and desirable until I find out what the components are. Then I think, "Hey - I've already got Clynelish and Laphroaig at home. I can mix 'em if I want. Why buy this pre-mixed bottle?" And then I don't buy it.

Unless the blender is really doing something interesting (which Compass Box could easily claim; I don't know), or unless they've sourced some really interesting components, then I'm not interested enough to buy a bottle. Give me a taste, sure--I'm keen to try it. Buy probably, I'll be buying single malts and having my personal mixing fun at home.

n

from a purchased sample

Nose: Ah yes, this seems to be a rather more delicate number. Light smoke, vanilla, lemon extract (more than the fruit), waxiness, and that candied barley. Still fairly malty. Sugary frosting. It's very sweet to me. Eventually there's more creamy vanilla, almost like a light-fruit orange sherbert.

Palate: Creamier with more diverse fruit notes than on the nose. Peach, apricot, melon, and honeydew. Oak is definitely there, hitting rather big in the mid-palate and back of the tongue. Less complex than the Oak Cross, but a bit more together and with fewer rough edges. Otherwise, fairly in keeping with the nose.

Finish: Hmm, a bit of a quick finisher. Pleasant and soft. Sweet, sugary at points, and malty. The oak is present, though it's a bit disjointed. If the finish were longer, this would surpass the Oak Cross, but it's just too brief for me.

J

Nose: wildflower and a hint of vanilla, also honey Taste: toasted oak, more vanilla, but plenty of citrus, especially as the whisky hits the back of the tongue Finish: honey and vanilla, also some spices (including pepper, but nothing near the Talisker "chili catch"). There’s a wonderful spicy, lemony fizz if you hold the sip for a few seconds towards the back half of the mouth. Lovely stuff.

This blend is quite good , and the carefully sourced Lowland grain seems to really add something to the mix. At $20 for 375ml--not so cheap for a blend-- it's still a bargain. Having tasted the Flaming Heart (4th edition), Oak Cross, Peat Monster (the more recent bottling) and this, I am looking forward to trying the rest of the Compass Box line.

@WhiskyBee

You probably won’t encounter a review of Compass Box whiskies without the word “innovative” somewhere in the first paragraph, so let’s get it out of the way: they’re innovative! Innovative with cask experimentation, oak selection, malt-grain blend ratios, flavors, packaging, and interior decorating (okay, maybe not the last one). The mad genius behind it all is master blender John Glaser, a Yank who bears a slight resemblance to actor John Malkovich. Connosr co-founder Pierre Thiebaut conducts a wonderful interview with Mr. G. in the second edition of “Distilled” on this website. The video’s introductory blurb tells how the man brews a cup of coffee, which will give you an idea as to the care Glaser invests in anything he crafts. He’s clearly a bit obsessive, but those of us who enjoy the fruits of his labors wouldn’t want it any other way.

We’re in the midst of an age when whisky-making is becoming increasingly marked by experimentation, which is a good thing insofar as it goes. Some of this experimentation, however, often takes the form of tricks and gimmicks to disguise the youth and tired casks of certain single malts. Some would argue that good ends can justify such means, whereas others contend that shortcuts can only lead to diminished quality throughout the industry. I’ll avoid that debate by acknowledging both points of view, but I’ll editorialize a bit by saying that such shortcut experiments seem too often classified as innovation in recent years. It’s blenders such as Mr. Glaser that are leading the way with what I regard as true innovation.

Great King Street is a separate line for Compass Box. The New York Blend is the newer and more limited release, whereas the Artist’s Blend is a permanent and ongoing expression. According to Compass Box’s website, it consists of 46% Lowland grain whisky, 9% Speyside single malt, and two Highland single malts make up the remaining 45%. Despite any (very minor) grumblings I may have about the end result, this is clearly a blend made with care and the highest level of craftsmanship. Notes are based on a 750cl bottle, opened for about three months and at slightly above the halfway mark.

Nose: Soft fruits and sharp spices in good balance. Vanilla merges with the grain in a single unit. Those are the most dominant notes I get, while other aromas make fleeting cameo appearances: caramel, cake frosting, coffee, grass, and some hearty oak. Very nice.

Palate: A somewhat soft arrival soon turns hot and zingy, with spices galore. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and light brown sugar mostly. Creamy vanilla and canned fruits (peaches and pears) appear in short order, and the balance between the two extremes is very effective and pleasant. Hold this one on your tongue as long as you can.

The finish seems weak at first, but it grows in intensity after a few moments. This is the hit-and-miss aspect of this whisky for me. The fruits, spices, and creaminess remain, but the tail end is a bit bitter and much too woody. Had to knock off a few points for this, but my 90 rating shows how highly I regard this whisky overall.

“Tradition evolves with time,” according to John Glaser, and the Artist’s Blend reflects that philosophy. Its old-school components have undergone new-school crafting, and the results are a blend that doesn’t have to apologize for being a blend. The Compass Box whiskies I own (this and the Spice Tree) or have tried (Peat Monster and Flaming Heart) suggest that “innovative” is the most understated of compliments for this brand.

I am glad to see you score this so highly. It means, at the very least, I am not the only one who is crazy. I tasted this at a tasting, not expecting too much. After I got home, it was clear that it was one of the standouts. I bought a bottle about a week ago, and I simply can't stay away from it. As the weather turns, I have been in the mood for something lighter on the palate, but rich in flavor. This definitely fits! Highly recommended.

@Krau -- Light and rich indeed. I should have mentioned that I think this one benefits from a bit of time after opening. I liked my first dram out of the bottle, but the spices and bitter notes screamed a little too loudly. A few weeks later, it seemed smoother and better balanced. But I'd still give it a first-dram score of at least 88.

@MaltySD

What a great whisky! This has easily become my go to daily dram, I love this stuff. Rich vanilla, granny smith apples, and maybe just a little bit of oaky spice on the backend, its simple as it’s straight forward, but that’s not a bad thing. So tasty, it works perfectly, its creamy and smooth, with a great mouth texture; the bottle just disappears way to fast if you’re not careful. At just under $40 a bottle, say what! Compass Box and Mr Glaser hit another one out of the park; I just hope I don’t get tired of it too soon! Can’t wait to try the New York edition…I hear it’s even better! If you haven’t tried any Compass Box whisky’s…I say this is the one to start with…at that price..you have nothing to lose.

@Megawatt

Description: Over 50% malt, consisting of two northern highland and one Speyside malt along with the Lowland grain whisky. Mostly aged in first-fill American oak, but also toasted French oak and sherry cask. No colouring added. Non-chillfiltered.

Nose: light, tropical, with notes of pineapple, ginger, and toasted grain. Pencil shavings. Juicy malt, dusted lightly with cocoa. Very appealing.

Taste: soft yet full on the tongue, starting very sweet before becoming tangy and gently spiced. Beautiful, mouth-watering delivery full of ripe fruit and vanilla. At the back of the tongue it becomes crisp with toasted oak and sweet, honeyed grains. Magnificent.

Finish: a textbook finish, perfectly consistent and lengthy. Fades with sweet-sour fruitiness and dry oak tannins.

Balance: I don't know what it is but this whisky pushes all the right buttons. It seems to lack nothing, delivering on all fronts. It is light yet full-flavoured and immensely satisfying; a glass of this can last me thirty minutes, easily. Unlike any other blend I've tried. A real winner.

@scips

First Great King Street of Compass Box: the artist's blend. I have not yet been disappointed by compass box whisky. And this one follow the same rules: Great blend! The color is probably linked to the mix of grain and malt whisky. The nose is really amazing and with such a nose, you expect a lot for the taste. The taste comes with a bit of bitterness and that's really refreshing because the nose is quite sweet and the transition between the sweet nose and the bitter taste is a really good idea. Then everything comes together, the taste goes to citrus and finish with caramel or appel pie. To picture it, I need a second glass. "It's like going from a candy shop to the pub, ordering a good strong refreshing bitter ale."

@Alanjp

I was drawn to this bottling after seeing an interview with John Glaser on the whisky marketplace video done by Connosr’s very own Pierre! The small bottle makes a difference as it stood out once I’d put it on my cabinet next to my other bottles! Anyway to the main bit of the review! The whisky had an almost dusty yellow colour to it, and at first I thought it was just my glass, but after pouring it into another one the colour remained. It wasn’t a dirty colour though, certainly did put me off the dram! I found it very sweet on the nose, came across like a bag of Haribo to be honest! There was also a hint of roses, adding a nice floral edge to it. The sweetness was there in the taste as well, again with the Haribo likeness, to be specific I would compare it to the white bit on the heart shaped sweets they do! There was a bit of oomph to it as well, and the finish left a strange (yet not unwelcome) fizzy feeling on my tongue. That died down and left a softness there, leaving me wanting more! Overall I thought the Great King Street Artists Blend is a well rounded and enjoyable whisky, which made the small bottle work against it, as it is emptying quickly and more will have to be bought!

I heard John Glaser speak three months ago. He clearly expects Artist's Blend to be only the first of a whole series of additional Compass Box Great King Street blends to follow the Artist's Blend. 'Blended Scotch whisky', as differentiated from 'blended malt whisky' is where he is turning his attention in the development of new products nowadays. In the US we have that 'little bottle' of Great King Street Artist's Blend. We also have a 750 ml size for sale here. It is indeed a very pleasant whisky. Thank you for your review, @Alanjp.

@galg

Nose: Vanilla up front, quite lemony, as in lemon pie, or meringue, green apples and maybe some pears too. quite fresh, with some oak notes. Palate: Creamy, but with a zing of gingery lemon stuff. vanilla custard, and some oriental candy, with bits of almonds, pistachios and sweet sultana towards the end, where a slight alcoholic bite is detected. Finish : medium,with oak notes (quite some wood here) , almonds , biscuits , and spice. Not very long, but long enough.

Bottom line:

This is a very good whisky.Well blended, with the right amount of wood influence, and a bit of everything (save smoke, which is not to be found here). Pricewise it’s not the cheapest of blends costing about £32 for bottle (if 750 ml bottles existed, currently it’s sold only in 0,5 litre bottles), and at that price you can get quite a few great single malts, but As a higher end blended scotch whisky it delivers just what it promises. Good work by John Glaser.

Really want to try this one, sounds really good. Surprised there's not been more reviews here, but cheers for this one galg.

I have a bottle of GKS which I'm really enjoying. The grain whisky is very apparent but its good grain.

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