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What I’m Thankful For (10 Years, 1 Month and 1 Day)

November 24, 2010

I’ll be the first to admit–I’ve had a pretty darn good life so far.  No major complaints over here!  I’m thankful for many things–my family, my friends, a steady job that I can find excitement and happiness  in (almost) every day.  What I’m also thankful for is a little thing called Compass Box Whisky…come on, you should have figured that out from this 😉

Ten years (and one month, and one day) ago, a little company called Compass Box was born.  And, to celebrate a decade of sucsess in the Whisky biz, they held various celebrations all over the world to commemorate their anniversary.  The aptly named “Tasting of the Decade” (and rightly so, I would agree,) stopped-off in NYC, and I’d be damned if I was going to miss it!

So often you hear about companies born out of tradition and heritage…but Compass Box bucks that trend.  American born John Glaser built this company, from the ground up, out of a desire to be different combined with sheer passion for whiskymaking — for more detailed and probably a more interesting tale than I could tell — take a minute to watch this video of John speaking about his company by clicking here .

John Glaser, founder and head whiskymaker of Compass Box was on hand to tell his ten-year tale at the New York event–and a great tale it is.  My favorite story of the evening had to be his recount of the arrival of their very first Whisky (Hedonism, of course.)  John loads up the heavy cases into his car — and after driving away, he has a moment of repose — he pulls the car over and cracks open a bottle to sample his hard-earned work.  Subsequently, he ends up weeping with joy as he slugged back his work.  That one moment spurred a decade of creation and ingenuity within the Compass Box world; producing 39 different whiskys over the span of 10 years–I would say that’s quite the accomplishment.

For the uninitiated; Compass Box produces “vatted grain malts”, which generally is a combination of two (or more) Single Malts, or Single Malts blended with other grain whiskies.  This method can give way to a more creative process — blending specific flavor profiles to create one unique bottling (much like the process of blending a wine.)

The line-up!

So a bit about the tasting!  I wish I could go back again–it was such a fantastic event.  I arrived at Astor Center in New York City, and was greeted with my first glass; a delicious little dram called Asyla — which was its’ first bottling of this whisky; and never released in the US.  Wow.  I could tell this was going to be a special night.  I was actually so excited, I forgot to take any notes what-so-ever for the first glass.  Oops.

10 little Whiskys all in a row...

After moseying about and nibbling on some yummy treats, we were seated in front of ten (ten!!) glasses of whisky.  It was basically a guided tour through 10 years of whiskymaking and the Compass Box story–in liquid form.  Shimmering and golden glasses of heaven tempted my every sense.  Sadly, however, most of these selections are either no longer with us  (I’ll repeat, most of them…There is hope…and we’ll get there in a minute), either out of stock or never sent over the pond to the States.  Either way–it was a great honor to try the whiskies that built this company.  I thought it would be fun to include my notes for the samples–I hope you can make sense of them (I was really excited!)  If you’d like a more succint and coherent description of the individual whiskies; I’ve included links to most of them!

Hedonism (1st release, current release  available in store)
Coconut, tropical, burnt sugar, smoky, oak, iodine. With water: orange, baked cinnamon pastry, perfumy?, Vanilla sugar, slight dried sweet grass notes on the finish, toffee.
Smokey bacon, burning embers, bread pudding, something creamy,
Band aid. Iodine. With water; woodsmoke ,slight honeyed finish ,honey nut cheerios, toasted grain, barley? Slight salinity, appley.
The Monster (first bottling, now called Peat Monster–available in store!)
Peat, orange peel, lemon, sweetish, lemon drops, smoked ham, tar, cinnamon, allspice
Spice Tree (first bottling, current release available in store!)
Sauternes? Grapey, sweet oak/wood notes, cereals, Chinese duck sauce, cloves
Deemed “illegal” by the scotch whisky association because of the oak staves used in the casks. Have current release at home.  Like that one much better…
Magic Cask– (made esp for Ontario liquor commission)
Aged in madeira casks
Nutty, sherried notes, almondy, spicy.
Canto Cask 46 (series of differently matured casks/char finishes sent to all separate markets, Canto Cast 46 released to US)
Sweet, portlike, dried fruit, raisins, fruitcake, creme brulee, super spicy, liquor burn, yowza, sweet dried figs, toasty cereals,
Burnt things, light, floral? Yum. Refreshing for a peated whisky.
Lady Luck (not available in US. Booooo)
Iodine, violet, ham hocks? Smoked meats, sweet sugared plums or something, dry, grassy, salty meats (prosciutto?) Sugar on cheerios with milk, with water–bonfire, prunes? Maybe some dried red fruit, cherries? Sourdough bread? Perfumey, pipe tobacco
Flaming Heart (Special release; 10th Anniversary commemorative release. available in nov)
Sweet, clover honey, strawberries, peat, candied orange, sweet woodsmoke, pipe tobacco, barley, chewy.
Hedonism Maximus (possibly still available in US?)
Big wood notes, furniture polish, sweet guava paste, honey, figs, oak

So, I’ve bursting at the seams to write this post, but I figured it would be a tad bit unfair about telling you about this grand event without having something new and exciting to share with you on the shelves!  So — in honor of the Compass Box 10th Anniversary celebration, we’ve brought you two new Compass Box Selections into the store; Flaming Heart 10th Anniversary Release and The Spice Tree. 

You can see why I’m thankful!

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