By Richard Thomas
The original Great King Street, named for the home address of those crafty folks at Compass Box, was an effort at improving the inferior reputation of blended scotch. Combine the attention devoted to single malts with the simple fact that blends dominate the lower tiers of the market, and it’s clear why blends get a bad rap. Then along came Great King Street, proving that even a no aging statement blend could be a good thing.
Compass Box revisited the upper tier blend idea to produce it’s limited edition New York Blend. Inspired by the recipes dating back to the late 19th Century, the Golden Age of blended scotch. Then as now, a big part of the blended scotch industry was exports to the United States, but it was the New York bar scene played a critical role in bringing that export industry about. In 1894, a barkeep named Patrick Duffy started the trend when he asked his distributor to get him some bottled, brand blends, rather than the wholesale casks of scotch that were the standard at the time. Combine that history with Compass Box’s predilection for regional themes, and you get Great King Street New York.
The Great King Street New York Blend is 20% grain and 80% malt, with the malts coming from Islay, Speyside and the Highlands. About 1/4 of the malts in question were heavily peated. The scotch was bottled at 46% abv, and is an old fashioned, natural color and no-chill filtered whiskey. The packaging is similar to that of the original Great King Street, but with a slate-blue coloring.
In the glass, the New York Blend has the coloring of yellow straw. The nose is a rich, leathery and musky one, with notes of wood and smoke. Contrasting against that is a surprisingly light flavor, albeit one with an oily texture. This is due to the hoary woody and smoky notes from the nose retreating in to the background, replaced by a certain tart and cookie spice citrusy sweetness.
The finish is short and mellow, and something of a letdown after the nose and the palate. Even so, this is good, pleasant sipping material.
Compass Box lists the Great King Street Blend at £60.00 ($94).