September 2014 Archives
Compass Box Whisky Company's founder and chief whiskymaker John Glaser is on a mission to change whisky enthusiasts' perception of blended scotch whiskies. The American ex-pat, based in London, has been making "small batch, artisinal," blended whisky since 2000 and has evolved a core product range of 5 different blends.
Asyla is the lightest tasting offering in the range and is a 50/50 blend of malt and grain whiskies married up to 24 months in first-fill American oak casks reportedly from bourbon-maker Buffalo Trace. The natural coloured and non-chillfiltered blend is made up of 40% malt whisky from Diageo's Teaninich distillery,10% from Glen Elgin with the remainder of the recipe coming from the Fife mega-distillery, Cameronbridge.
Marketed as "the ideal Sunday afternoon-in-the-garden whisky," the aperitif styled Asyla is bottled at 40% ABV and is Mr. Glaser's proverbial "desert island dram." Playing on the plural for "asylum," the whiskymaker presents Asyla to the drinker with series questions to ponder while enjoying his dram: "Is whisky an asylum? A refuge from the vagaries of the day? A sanctuary? Can it transport us from one to the other?"
The act of enjoying whisky as a gateway to relaxation and contemplation is a familiar trope among enthusiasts and the marketing departments of distilleries alike; yet I think Mr. Glaser, by way of his label, is providing us with some instruction on how to approach Asyla. A mindset hewing to a sort of reflection or "engaged" relaxation rather than a passive drinking experience is necessary to contemplate Asyla. There's no doubt that whisky can offer refuge, or mental escape but the shuttle to sanctuary and tranquility is not one fueled by alcohol alone.
Since 1849 W.L. Weller's "original" wheated bourbon has been prized by critics and conoisseurs alike. Now produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery, the new owners have remained faithful to the Weller recipe and the classic slogan, "Honest Whiskey at an Honest Price." Highly-awarded, the 12 year old expression has often been thought-of as "poor man's Pappy" among bourbon enthusiasts as it offers a similar hit of quality wheater at a significant savings thanks to the similar mash bill both product lines share. Bottled at 45% A.B.V., it's back on LCBO shelves for a limited time.
Nose: Beautiful aromas reminiscent of baked cherries and vanilla buttercream icing. A touch of walnut oil provides added depth to the soft and inviting nose of this whiskey.
Palate: Great body with a smooth, almost buttery-caramel richness. Flashes of fruit; a twist of orange and then maraschino cherries rise from nutty toffee pudding flavours. A gentle spiciness crackles throughout the palate but never overtakes the dessert-like qualities of the whiskey.