In a recent interview with trade magazine The Spirits Business, John Glaser, an American businessman, explained his thoughts when he found himself working for Johnnie Walker at the end of the last century.
‘Scotch was not doing well then. Single malts were growing but, as they are today, they were small. People thought single malts were all about high-handedness and rules, and they weren’t terribly relevant to a large portion of the drinking populous. So, I thought the world needed a new push for Scotch whisky and I founded Compass Box’.
In a nutshell, Compass Box buys casks of single malts, blends them and re-matures them in their own very special casks to produce Scotch whiskies with specific characteristics; The Peat Monster, Oak Cross & The Spice Tree are self-explanatory. At Compass Box the cask is the key, new or old oak, French or American oak or a combination to bring out the required characteristics? Compass Box originally fell foul of the authorities when they put new American oak staves into old French oak barrels; this was not allowed as the staves were not part of the barrel. To overcome the problem, they simply put new American oak heads on the old French oak barrels to keep the authorities happy!
More recently Compass Box have had to find a way of overcoming EU legislation which says that only the age of the youngest component in the bottle can be quoted on the bottle, in any advertising or marketing material, even if 90% of the final blend is much older.
They are not, however, forbidden giving customers the information if they ask for it; so, if you want to know, you can find out the ages of the component parts of any of Compass Box’s whiskies using a function through the company’s website. Indeed, the Compass Box website is well worth a visit to really understand the philosophy of the company and its founder.