Posts Tagged With: grain whisky

Tasting Notes: Compass Box – Hedonism

Compass Box Range – Hedonism

Compass Box’s Hedonism sits within their Signature Range of premium blends and is the collection’s sole blended grain scotch whisky. Whilst the usual ingredients of Hedonism mostly features Cameronbridge single grain whisky vatted with Port Dundas, this bottle was marked MMVXI-C, which allows you check the exact recipe on their website. Here we discover that whilst Cameronbridge is the main component again (45%), in the interests of securing the same flavour profile, this has then been married with Dumbarton (31%) and Strathclyde (24%) grain whiskies all matured in first fill American oak casks and bottled at 43% ABV.


Nose: This is very sweet. There’s a real vanilla pod burst here and the boozy nose can barely mask it. There’s also a bit of a tropical scent to this too, which made us both think of pineapple. Yes, pineapple.

Taste: As soon as the initial booze blast subsides, then the distinctive grain whisky banana and custard flavours come out. That strange pineapple flavour reappears now too, along with coconut (we’re not making this up!) and reveals a totally tropical taste.

Finish: It leaves a good, clean finish and is all over just a little too quickly, unfortunately for us.

Verdict: As the name suggests, the whisky intends to celebrate the enjoyment of things, and particularly the flavours of grain whisky. By our books, it achieves that. The classic grain whisky flavours and textures are there, and the first fill US barrels make for a very vanilla-rich whisky. It may have been the power of suggestion (and the free flowing of alcohol) but this was then complemented by what seems like the whisky equivalent of the Malibu pineapple-meets-coconut flavour. When comparing notes to the other Compass Box expressions in the Signature Range, we’re not sure why there aren’t as many individual flavours listed within the notes for the grain whisky, but then again it just seems to be more about being straightforward and enjoyable. If the brief was for simplicity and enjoyment thereof then they have aimed well and hit that target. Beautiful stuff. “Rich. Vanilla. Alluring.” Indeed.


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Tasting Notes: Compass Box – Asyla

Compass Box Range – Asyla

When reading any material about the current trend/boom of premium blended whisky, you will not have to look too far before discovering the influence of Compass Box. The London-based scotch whisky bottlers (yep – they are London-based, but they have an office in Edinburgh though, so that’s legit, right?) have very much been at the forefront of the current movement, amongst other initiatives within the whisky market (which we will look at in another post). The independent bottlers have developed five unique scotch whiskies that sit with their core signature range, of which this sits at the lightest end of the spectrum. The “Asyla” blended scotch offering takes its name from the plural of “asylum” and contains a 50:50 blend of malt whisky to grain whisky. To be precise, this release contains 50% Cameronbridge grain whisky (American Standard Barrels “ASB”), 5% Glen Elgin malt (Hogshead), 23% Teaninich malt (ASB) and 22% Linkwood malt (ASB) – all bottled together at 40% ABV. As per Compass Box’s Scotch Whisky Transparency initiative, the full details of the contents, maturation process and flavour profiles are all available on their website – click here to find out more.


Nose: Very vanilla rich. Light and delicate flavours at play here. A pinch of fruitiness makes its way through and the boozy burn is quite grain heavy – adding some depth and subtleties to all of that upfront vanilla/custard.

Taste: The vanilla flavour continues strongly here – again, with the grain and bourbon barrels presumably doing the hard work here. Lots of flavours in the background for a light dram – showing some of the fruits (apples and white grapes) under that custard coating.

Finish: Very light and leaves the throat with a slight coating. Vanilla/custard sweetness lingers and a little booze tingle makes it a very more-ish finish.

Verdict: Well, they describe this as their “everyday / before dinner / Sunday afternoon whisky” and we couldn’t agree more. If anything, we’d call it a breakfast whisky. Really light and delicate. Incredibly more-ish. Sweet, creamy (without the heavy body) and so inoffensive you’d barely notice you’d had one but for the smile on your face afterwards. (Big fans, if you couldn’t tell!)


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Beckham’s New Club

Earlier this week we saw the launch of a new whisky within the Diageo family: Haig Club. This “collaboration” expression was launched by none other than David Beckham. With such a star involved it kinda feels like a real-life version of Bill Murray’s Bob Harris advertising Suntory in the film Lost In Translation, albeit Mr Beckham is far from washed-up!

At WU, we’ve got mixed feelings on this.

Firstly the ad itself talks instantly about the bottle. Obviously, with Becks on board, image is going to be important, but what does that say about the whisky? Also, to be frank, when you look at the bottle itself, it leaves you wondering whether you’d pour it into a glass or put a dash on your neck before heading out for a night on the tiles. It’s unique, we’ll give it that.

Secondly, they talk, very briefly, about the flavour. It’s distinctive apparently. That’s it. And with all participants in the ad raising their glasses aloft, full to the hilt with ice, you’ve got to ask whether that’s a good message about a whisky. WU are yet to taste this dram and a full review is imminent, so we will reserve judgement for now.

Thirdly, and this may be the most important aspect, the whisky itself is a single grain whisky. Haig is, of course, known for its grain whisky, but this has got us thinking: is this an attempt by the big money to stylise grain whiskies and up their game outside of the malt whisky world? The market is definitely becoming more and more saturated with different malts, particularly those that have been matured in numerous different vats – you may have seen that Jura recently released a whisky that has been matured via 7 different casks!! Clearly the marketing team have been trying to think outside of the box here and certainly getting Beckham’s chiseled looks behind it will raise attention worldwide. Are we therefore going to see a rise in sales of grain whiskies? Maybe. Our thoughts are that this could go one of two ways but could very well be a master stroke by Diageo. We’ll just have to wait and see, and put it on ice for now…

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