Guitar Aficionado

There’s More to Scotch than Single Malt

Compass Box shows how exciting and versatile Scotch whisky can be.

STILL LIFE: Blends from Compass Box prove there’s more to Scotch than Single Malt.

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By Chris Gill | Photography by Massimo Gammacurta

For most whisky connoisseurs, Scotch whisky begins and ends at Single Malt Scotch. Fortunately, drinkers with more adventurous and curious palates have recently discovered that there’s much more to Scotch whisky than Single Malt. Recent ventures by David Beckham (Haig Club Single Grain) and pop producer Tommy D (808 Blended Grain) have helped bring attention to the virtues of Scotch grain whisky, but Compass Box ( truly leads the way when it comes to revealing how exciting and versatile Scotch whisky can be.

Founded in 2000 by American entrepreneur John Glaser, a former marketing director at Johnnie Walker, Compass Box is a blending house that produces a wide variety of Blended Malt, Blended Grain, and Blended (combining both malt and grain) Scotch whiskies. Although Compass Box is not a distillery, they are more involved in the whisky-making process than typical blending houses, aging sourced distillates in their own casks that they have specially selected for specific desirable flavor profiles.

Compass Box’s five Signature Range and two Great King Street blends are all impressive, but their limited-edition blends showcase their most innovative and adventurous efforts. Hedonism Quindecimus ($200, 750ml), a Blended Grain Whisky bottled in celebration of Compass Box’s 15th anniversary, goes well beyond their Signature Range Hedonism in terms of complexity, delivering an exciting and luxurious panoply of exotic flavors that include coconut, tropical fruits, burnt caramel, and baking spices. The base of Orangerie ($50, 750ml) is a blend of Highland Single Malt and Single Grain whisky from Fife, but because it’s infused with hand-zested Navalino orange peel, Indonesian cassia bark, and Sri Lankan cloves, it can’t technically be called Scotch whisky. Its refreshing orange and spice flavors make it an enticing after-dinner drink as well as a versatile base for innovative cocktails.