Why You Should Celebrate Robbie Burns Day by Drinking Scotch Made by an American
Because in this age of huge conglomerates, Compass Box captures the soul of making whisky.
Compass Box The Lost Blend $133
John Glaser was a marketing exec at Johnnie Walker in the late 1990s when a glass of grain whisky changed his life. It was from Scotland’s CameronBridge distillery and it was destined for use in the company’s famed blended whiskies, but Glaser thought it was interesting enough that it could be the basis for it’s own whisky. This was at the height of Single Malt Madness, where blended whiskies of all stripes were being passed over for single malts. And grain whiskies were even lower on the esteem ladder than blended whiskies. It was hardly a surprise that Johnnie Walker took a pass on the opportunity but it spurred Glaser to start what has become one of the most influential whisky brands in the world. His Compass Box Whisky Co. has not only almost single-handedly restored the reputation of grain whisky (the company’s Hedonsim bottling remains the gold standard in the area), but reenergized the blended whisky category (the mixture of grain whisky and single mat whisky) with his Aslya and Great King St bottlings and popularized the blended or vatted malt category (a blend of single malts with no grain whisky) with the Spice Tree and the Peat Monster.
And as the Scotch industry is increasingly dominated by a small number of huge corporate concerns, the rarest commodity is a singular voice, and there’s no whisky-maker making more singular offerings than Glaser. As Robbie Burns comes but once a year, it seems fitting to break out a bottle of the The Lost Blend. Here Glaser makes an homage to Eleuthra, one of the company’s early bottles, by blending whisky from Clynelish, Caol Ila and the so-rare-I’ve-never-even-heard-of-it Allt-A-Bhainne. The result is a multi-layered trip around the country with a tangy peat and smoky Islay nose melding nicely with a warm vanilla and fruit crumble that speaks to the North. A wonderful bottle that’s gorgeous to look at and that lets you know that the independent voice is still heard in Scotland.