By Richard Thomas
Asyla is the premium blended scotch expression from the artisanal whiskey-makers at Compass Box. Those familiar with the Signature Range from Compass Box know the other entries in that line are either vatted malt or vatted grain whiskeys. The company’s other blended scotch, Great King Street, is their mainstay rather than an upper-tier label.
Compass Box describes it as the “ultimate” whiskey for lazy Sunday afternoons, to serve as an aperitif, or for everyday sipping. Asyla’s blend is more than half malt whiskey, drawn from Alness and Longmorn, with the grain whiskey coming from Fife. The high proportion of malt whiskey is unusual for a blended scotch, as is the emphasis placed on drawing entirely on whiskey aged in ex-bourbon barrels.
Asyla comes in a clear glass bottle, and between the whiskey’s fair color and the label design, one might be forgiven for mistaking it for white wine upon a first glance. Asyla is bottled at 40% alcohol, is not chill-filtered, and bears no aging statement.
In the glass, Asyla continues to bear a marked resemblance to white wine with its pale straw color, although that impression disappears as soon as one takes in the whiskey’s nose. The scent is fruit and light, with the sweetness of crisp, green apples and melons, plus a hint of spiciness. On the palate, the scotch is malty and peppery. There is a certain apples and pears sweetness at first, but this is soon submerged by middling amounts of spiciness and oakiness. The finish is short and sweet, with traces of malt and fruit.
I must agree with Compass Box on the aperitif claim, since Asyla has all the right qualities for a before dinner drink. It’s light, it’s stimulating, and it’s pleasantly flavorful. As a sipping whiskey, Asyla’s light, sweet character and in particular its ethereal finish makes it a good choice for drinking neat on summer evenings, since you can imbibe this whiskey without baking yourself in a warm afterglow. During cold winter months, most whiskey drinkers will want something more warming.
Asyla is listed at £36.50 on the Compass Box website. It’s pricing in the United States is a little cheaper than a direct currency conversion might suggest, as I have seen bottles priced between $45 and $50.