By Richard Thomas
The Entertainer is a special, limited edition release from those innovative, artisanal whiskey-makers at Compass Box. Intended as a tribute to the life of Gordon Selfridge, founder of Britain’s Selfridge department store chain, the scotch is available only through the Selfridge website and their four brick-and-mortar outlets. Americans with an interest in Compass Box products should take note, because Selfridge does not ship outside of the UK. You will only be able to acquire a bottle of The Entertainer by venturing to Birmingham, London or Manchester. That is somewhat disappointing, as Gordon Selfridge was from Wisconsin.
Selfridge founded his first department store at London’s Oxford Circus in 1909, and The Entertainer is modeled on the style of early 20th Century scotch, when blends were made with a higher proportion of malt whiskey than is the case today. Blended scotch was generally peatier back then as well. Only 1,000 bottles were made in the first (and thus far only) batch. The Entertainer was bottled at 46% abv.
In the glass, The Entertainer has the yellow-gold coloring of freshly cut straw. The nose is buttery and rich, with a certain malty and honeyed sweetness to it, mixed with a certain floral quality and a helping of dried fruits.
This is a mellow scotch on the palate. The flavor starts out woody, and then grows out to embrace that malty, honey and raisins sweetness along with a dollop of cinnamon and ginger. The finish starts off from that spicy cinnamon and ginger bite, and winds down quickly and with only a little warmth.
The Entertainer is certainly that. The thing that stood out most about this whiskey is how every stage of the experience brought something new and a little surprising with it. The scotch isn’t a flamboyant performer, though, doing its thing in a subdued, balanced style.
Selfridges lists The Entertainer at £84.99.