Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Whisky Discovery #91

Great King Street 'Artists Blend' (43% abv)
Blended Scotch Whisky
Circa £25.00 50cl

Great King Street ' Artists Blend'
For our second Compass Box whisky we were introduced to the first of the new ‘Great King Street’ range. Great King Street is a new line dedicated solely to the category of Blended Scotch Whisky, and the first whisky of the line, “Artist’s Blend”, was released in 2011

The name of this new label is inspired by Compass Box's registered office, 24 Great King Street, in Edinburgh, and their mission is to offer a style and approach to Blended Scotch that they believe has not existed before. The blends will use a high proportion of malt whisky (about 50%), excellent quality grain whiskies, and the careful use of new French Oak aging for added complexity. All will be bottled without chill-filtering and be naturally coloured.

There are five key things that Compass Box considered in Great King Street:

Great Grain. Using the very highest quality single grain Scotch whiskies. Sourced from a renowned Lowland distillery and all of it is aged in 'first fill' American oak barrels, which makes the grain whisky much richer and sweeter on the palate than those aged in larger, refill casks.

More Malt. Secondly, they are using a higher proportion of malt whisky than most other Blends. 'Artist's Blend' consists of almost 50% malt whisky, far more than the 30 or 40% most blends use. This provides more character and complexity.

Better Oak. Compass Box are known for their fanaticism about quality oak casks. Every cask of whisky used to make 'Artist's Blend' is of a much higher quality than is typical in Scotch whisky: first-fill American oak casks, first-fill European oak ex-Sherry butts and, something no other Blended Scotch uses, new oak. In this case, new, heavily-toasted French oak.

Bottled Naturally. 'Artist's Blend' is bottled at its natural colour (no E150 colouring agent) and without the chill filtration prior to bottling that most Scotch whiskies go through. This leaves the whisky full of its natural complexity and mouthfeel.

Traditional Strength. Bottled at 43% abv, a strength traditionally used in Scotland many years ago.

‘The Artist’s Blend’ is a marriage of delicate Lowland grain and robust, complex Highland malt whiskies. The style is rich, round and fruity with hints of toasty oak, vanilla and spice.

So what did I think?

I've been finding out a little about blended whisky recently. I read Richard Paterson's excellent book 'Goodness Nose' over the Easter weekend and have had a great Tweet Tasting with Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire and Cutty Sark Blends, so really appreciate the work that is going into the making of them. This was a very pleasing blended Scotch whisky which I would be happy to have on my shelf.

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