Monday, 16 January 2017

Review: Compass Box Great King Street Artist's Blend - 43%

I can't believe I haven't reviewed this previously as I'm a huge fan of Compass Box and everything whisky magician John Glaser turns his hand to. 

This bottle sadly crashed into the bottle bank last year, but after stumbling across my tasting notes in a battered, dogeared notepad, I thought it was about time to transfer my messy scribbles to the blog.

The Great King Street Artist's Blend is a combination of 46% Lowland grain whisky, 28% Northern Highland single malt, 17% of a Northern Highland single malt, with the remaining 9% made up from a Speyside single malt. Of course, if you want to dig down into a bit more detail, visit the excellent Compass Box website and you'll be able to request the info.

It's part of the whiskymakers' ongoing and commendable transparency campaign, which strives to lift the lid on current EU and UK regulations which stops companies like Compass Box from publicly stating the ages and details of the whiskies used in their blends. More power to them.

Nose: Cereal and banana toffee chews. Some spicy oak is present, along with a hint of white wine, golden syrup and lemon curd spread on toasted granary bread. There's also Wrigley's spearmint chewing gum, rich tea biscuits, custard powder, sugary apple turnover and sticky toffee pudding.

Palate: The Artist's Blend is rich and full-flavoured. Baked apple, red liquorice laces, floral honey, lemon drizzle cake, raisins and golden sultanas. There's also a twist of pepper and fizzy, rice paper flying saucers.

Finish: Spicy with rich lemon, a little menthol note, ground cinnamon, orange oil and vanilla. I even get Christmas mince pies when left in the glass for a while.

A delicious dram which I'd like to see in larger bottles. 50cl just doesn't last long enough!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Review: Laphroaig Quarter Cask - 48%

The Laphroaig Quarter Cask has become a whisky which regularly makes it on to my whisky shelves - thanks in part to supermarkets, who insist on regularly reducing the price of this peaty Islay beauty. When I see a bottle, I find it difficult not to reach out and plonk it into the shopping trolley.

While the standard Laphroaig 10-year-old is always cheaper, this is - in my opinion - a much more full-flavoured dram and packs more of a wallop. The fact its ABV is 8% higher than their flagship brand probably has something to do with it - unless you're living in North America, where the 10 is poured into that famous green bottle at a much more respectable 43%.

But enough with the grumping. Time for some Laphroaig Quarter Cask tasting notes.

Nose: Unsurprisingly, this carries the unmistakable Laphroaig peaty, TCP character, complete with sticking plasters and the sharp smell of disinfected hospital wards. But underneath the smoking peat there's a lovely dry tobacco leaf, which intensifies with a couple of drops of water. It really is quite lovely. There's also dark treacle toffee mixed with Thornton's special toffee, honey-glazed charcoal bricks, coal smoke, mixed dried fruit, menthol and some zingy citrus notes tucked away in the back. I also occasionally get a wee bit of steamed broccoli - but perhaps that's coming from the pub next door!

Palate: A huge, smokey peat blast arrival which settles down into dark fruit: baked plums and thick blackcurrant jam. I always get black pepper in Laphroaigs, and this one is no different. There's also malty cereals, more TCP, dark cherry syrup - I'm thinking cough medicine - and a wee dab of sourness.

Finish: The first thing I get is menthol cigarettes. I used to have the occasional smoke many years ago, and that memory comes right back on the finish. There's sweet peat, some deep citrus notes, flat cola, coal smoke, cherry, parma violets - and that amazing dried tobacco note returns if you leave the dram to settle for a while. Another beauty from Laphroaig.