Compass Box, Empire State South, & The GBS

Last night I went to a Compass Box event featuring John Glaser at Empire State South with a few of the guys from the Georgia Bourbon Society including Dave whose new blog you can check out here. We had a blast but to be honest we usually do. The event was structured a little differently from whiskey events I attended in the past. We had the bar area of the restaurant and Empire gave everyone a Compass Box centric menu. The menu featured some tasty bits plus 0.5, 1, and 2 ounce pours of Asyla, Great King Street Artists Blend, Great King Street NY Blend, Oak Cross, Spice Tree, Peat Monster, Delilah’s, and Peat Monster 10th Anniversary along with some tasty cocktails featuring Compass Box whiskies. All were a la carte and not inexpensive. While we were imbibing Mr. Glaser was floating from table to table to answer questions and talk about his great whiskies and his craft. If you haven’t had a chance to meet John Glaser then I will tell you that he is a very approachable and knowledgeable gentleman who enjoys talking about what he does.

During the discussions with Mr. Glaser we got the background on the making of his recent Delilah’s limited release. This lovely whisky was made at the request of the owner of the namesake bar in Chicago. It was supposed to be a bourbon inspired easy drinking whisky that would go equally well with a beer or in a nosing glass. On both accounts Compass Box succeeded with flying colors. The secret to the blend is some 12 year old Cameronbridge single grain that Diageo was experimenting with in new oak barrels. This is the source to the lovely vanilla notes coming through. Delicious!

Toward the end of the night after we had certified our whisky-geekdom street cred Mr. Glaser comes over with a few small pours of The General. In addition to being amazing he also regaled us with the story of this bottling. This new limited release is the result of two blends that came into the possession of Compass Box. One is around 33 years old and of unknown province. This one came via a whisky broker. The other is around 40 years and came from Gordon and MacPhail. The uniqueness of this whisky has many layers. It’s very old. It is a blend of blends. And those blends were pre-blended and aged as blends subsequent to blending. The back story is almost as interesting as the whisky.

For those interested in The General your local options are limited. Tower is only getting a couple of bottles and those may already be spoken for. Call and ask for Matt. Green’s also has a few so that may be your best local option. I’m told that the only other retailer in Georgia getting any is Habersham’s in Savannah.

Our final piece of inside information was Mr. Glaser’s reveal of the next release. In the fall will be a release of Great King Street The Glasgow Blend. This will be a sherry smoky new addition to the regular line coming out of experimental work done in the European market. For those that don’t know Compass Box release a sherry focused experimental blend and a smoky focused experimental blend in Europe only. The purpose was to gauge interest in which direction they should go with their next blend. Apparently, it was split down the middle. As a result, the new blend will be the best of both worlds.

My only gripe about the whole evening is that I would’ve preferred a set price and whisky list similar to other tasting but it was a minor inconvenience. This was a great time featuring great whisky and a great whiskymaker. Fittingly, during April we will be featuring reviews of Compass Box whiskies here so be sure to check back. Oh, and we sort of made John Glaser an honorary member of the Georgia Bourbon Society too.

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