Compass Box – Twenty years of innovation in Whisky
Posted on September 25 2020
Now that the Autumn equinox has passed and we see the nights beginning to draw in, I must confess that I’m relieved to revisit my autumn wardrobe of warm socks and cosy jumpers!
After the year that we’ve had, like many I suspect this year, I decided to skip any attempt at being ‘beach body ready’ when gym closures and travel restrictions squandered what little hope there may have been for a sunny, long haul holiday without the threat of quarantine. Autumn is without a doubt my favourite season. There is something reassuring about knowing each day will be 11 degrees, drizzly and slightly windy. In such uncertain times – any certainty can be a comfort!
For the last five years, Autumn has also signalled the arrival of the latest limited-edition release from John Glaser – founder of Compass Box Whisky and a long-time friend of The Good Wine Shop. For those of you unfamiliar with Compass Box Whisky, John Glaser is a self-prescribed ‘Whiskymaker’. John describes this as “someone who feels a need and an obligation to make things better – to ask questions, to challenge, to experiment” – and boy has he challenged the whisky ‘establishment’ over the years!
This year marks the 20th anniversary for Compass Box, during which time John has grown from a one-man operation from his kitchen in South West London, to a talented team of Whiskymakers creating one of the most sort after, engaging and intriguing whisky ranges in the world. To mark this milestone, Compass Box have released a limited-edition bottling - Hedonism Felicitas – which pays tribute to the whisky that launched their adventure twenty years ago and to acknowledge all those who have supported them on their incredible journey.
Felicitas is a blend of three grain whiskies from three decades; the largest component being whisky distilled at the Port Dundas Distillery in 2001, one third of the blend from the Strathclyde Distillery in the 1980’s and completing the blend, whisky from the North British Distillery distilled in the 1990’s. Ultimately, the result is an incredible limited edition with all of the charm we’ve come to love from previous limited Hedonism releases – creamy coconut intertwined with notes of caramel, vanilla and almond. Apple and greengage adding delicious weight with a soft finish packed with creamy toffee.
We have secured a tiny allocation of this limited release. If you are interested then please contact your local store.
As Compass Box have grown, John is now joined by talented Whiskymakers Jill Boyd and James Saxon. Combined, they have access to some of the most incredible whisky casks in Scotland and are staying true to their five core principles;
- Blending is a platform for creativity
- Good oak rules – you can only create a great whisky when you use great wood (casks)
- Good whiskies don’t need age statements
- Whisky should be bottled without chill-filtering and at their natural colour
- Drink good whisky any way you like – no rules!
With his signature range, John unleashed the creative potential of Scotch whisky. Hedonism, his first release, was the first commercial bottling of blended grain Scotch whisky in first fill American oak casks, packed with flavours of vanilla and caramel. Oak Cross, was one of the first to blend both American and French oak using innovative hybrid casks creating a whisky with a wonderful interplay of vanilla and clove like spice – soon to be discontinued as the source whiskies that make up Oak Cross have run dry! Luckily, we still have a few! Finally, my personal favourite, The Peat Monster, is comprised of heavily peated Islay and medium peated Highland malts which combine to give powerful coastal sea spray aromas and driftwood fire moreishness!
From all of us at The Good Wine Shop we’d like to congratulate John, Jill, James and the rest of their team on an incredible twenty years and we all look forward to seeing what they have up their sleeves next!
As for me, I’m wrapping up warm, hip flask in hand and heading for a remote country cottage getaway to embrace the autumn!