Compass Box Glasgow Blend just won a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. That’s no easy task. That means every judge awarded it a gold medal and was unanimous in their praise for the dram. It’s an exceedingly rare honor. An honor that motivated us to break open our own bottle of the blended whisky to see what’s up.
Compass Box is one of the most interesting blenders working in the game today. The London-based whisky blendery sources barrels from all over Scotland and brings them together for some of the most unique (and delicious) blends on the market. Many of the brand’s whiskies are in a pretty high price bracket — in the U.S. it’s easy to see them priced over $100. Glasgow Blend, on the other hand, is a very affordable bottle of blended scotch. You can snag a bottle for $40 and it’s fairly widely available.
That makes this an even more intriguing prospect. Okay, let’s get into how this one tastes.
Compass Box Glasgow Blend Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $40
This expression is a marrying of whiskies from all over Scotland. 65 percent of the juice comes from single malts from a “distillery near the town of Aberlour,” Laphroaig, and Clynelish. The rest is part Highland malt blend (from the Glen Moray, Tomatin, and Balmenach distilleries) and a grain whisky from Cameronbridge distillery. Those whiskies were barreled in sherry and bourbon casks with a French oak barrel thrown in too.
The nose draws you in with this subtle peaty malt that feels more kissed by a hint of smoke than drowned in it in a malting room. There’s also a light stewed stone fruit vibe in play — kind of like a prune sitting next to a nutmeg bulb. Going back to the nose, a very faint cherry arrives.
The first sip is “malty scotch!” That then leads to dry straw, very mild plum, the memory of opening up a bag of charcoal, and almond shells. The taste really leans into the malts. But again, you don’t feel much smoke. Instead, you’re left with a slightly sweet straw and a buzzing maltiness that is more reminiscent of a cleaned-out fireplace than “smoke.”
The bottle really isn’t anything to write home about. It’s a standard bottle. The label has the iconic bit of Glaswegian art and humor with the Wellington Statue centered. That makes the label more the talking point than the standard, clear bottle, but it’s nothing much.
This is a damn fine blended scotch. It works really nicely as a sipper without a rock. I’d also wager this is going to be a hell of a cocktail base too. If you’re looking for a solid blended whisky from outside the big ten (Johnnie, Chivas, Cutty, Grouse, etc.), then this is definitely a great choice.
88/100. This is a really solid whisky. It’s not going to blow your socks off, but it’s refined and very drinkable with a very approachable smoke factor.