By Richard Thomas
Compass Box launched its Great King Street expression with an eye on showing what artisanal care could do for blended scotch, which by and large has received unjustified scorn since the single malt boom of the 1980s. Since then, Jim Glaser over at Compass Box has built on the Great King Street brand through a line of limited editions, such as the New York Blend.
Bringing the idea of the public experiment to Great King Street, Compass Box has released two new limited editions in the line, both dubbed experiments to decide what a new, regular production Great King Street blend should be. The “Orange Batch” (00-V4), so-named for its fruity side and given an appropriate label, is the sherried blend of the two, and limited to a set of 3,805 bottles. The new expression coming out of the experiment is set for a 2014 launch.
Like the original Great King Street “Artist’s Blend,” the Orange Batch comes in a 500 ml bottle with an abv of 43%. In the glass, the scotch has a lustrous pale gold coloring. The blend is 28% Lowland grain and 72% malt, the latter a mix of Speyside, Highlands, and Islands with a dash of Islay peated malt. The wood involved is mostly (but not entirely) ex-Sherry and -Bourbon casks. 00-V4 is not chill filtered.
The nose is rich and buttery, mixing orange zest sweetness and spice with a bit of toffee and a touch of ash. It’s the flavor where the sherry cask side of the Orange Batch really comes out, with a strong character of dry woodiness sharing center stage with the orange zest from the nose. Whatever smoke or ash was there disappears entirely, as does the buttery texture of the nose, replaced by a certain grainy quality.
After that pleasant set of scents and flavors, the finish is somewhat of a let down. It opens on a dry note, and after that goes short and flat.
The Orange Batch is priced on Compass Box’s webstore at £32, the steep British VAT included, making the scotch a decent buy even with the undersized bottle.