I like it when my obsessive calling of things by their Proper Name shows that I vaguely understand the world. Whether it be obsessive fact checking of people’s names or checking to see whether I should be sticking a The in front of a town/country/product/etc (The Hague, Ukraine and The Glenlivet, I’m looking at you) I do like to make sure that things are referred to properly. So, my insistence on calling Compass Box’s new-ish blended whisky ‘Great King Street: The Artist’s Blend’ (although whether I vocalise the colon is very much dependent on context) rather than the abbreviated ‘Great King Street’ has now come to fruition with a second whisky in the range appearing.
While a there is a second general release in the wings, the follow-up to GKS:TAB is a limited edition whisky that’s also the first in a new subseries – Great King Street: New York Blend.
The cities range of GKS whiskies has (will have?) a conceit, and whether it’s true or not it’s one that appeals to me. In Ye Olden Dayes, when communication was much less free and easy than it is today and we travelled much less, the world was much more local. Local delicacies would stay local, local fads would do likewise and local tastes would be for local people. As such, whisky (and here’s the part where I start having to do some active believing) was created by the blenders for a much more local market, with many whiskies being made for the palate of a town or city, rather than today’s world spanning drams. John Glaser and the team have been researching historical blends since the start of the company and on finding a recipe for a New York Blend John was inspired to create GKS:NYB. Now, John has said that it is only ‘inspired’, with some of the flavour ideas that were in the recipe, but that’s enough to make a happy gimmick for my liking.
There will be other cities but New York came up as the first for a number of reasons, one of which was its release – an exclusive launch at last year’s WhiskyFest New York. Along with that circumstance comes the slight annoyance of the release – it is available pretty much only in the USA. However, it would be foolish of the folks at Compass Box not to have a bit to sell themselves, and you can get it in their online shop.
So, what’s it like. On the nose I get fizzy cola bottles, muddy smoke, cherry cupcakes, black rubber and some floral notes hiding underneath. On the palate it is quite oily, with soft sweet smoke, a hint of smoked ham, chalky Refreshers, some non-fizzy cola bottles and salted caramel, with water making the smoke a little spikier and bringing out a bit of mango syrup. It finishes with some smoke around the edges of the palate and sweet fruit gums down the centre.
I wasn’t going to write a whole blog post about this, as my first little taste left me a bit underwhelmed – nice but not all that. However, having tried it at the Whisky Squad Christmas do at the weekend I was rather taken with it, and felt a bit inspired. It’s certainly my favourite Compass Box whisky since the Hedonism 10th Anniversary bottling and if the upcoming smoky Great King Street is anything like it I will be very pleased.
Many thanks to Lili at Compass Box for rewarding some proof-reading I did on their website with a sample of this. I suspect I will be buying a big bottle before it runs out.
Blended Scotch Whisky, 46%. £60 for a 75cl bottle (it is a US release, after all)