The General is unusual as far as how expressions are made at Compass Box. Usually, and as we’ve seen in previous Compass Box reviews here, John Glaser or his other whisky makers select single malts of different profiles and assemble them themselves. Here, Glaser bought casks of whiskies already blended at a young age and left to marry in those casks for a very long time. Two parcels were bought, one being 33 years old at the time of The General’s final blending, and one rumoured to be 40 years old. John Glaser describes the whisky as having an “antique character lovers of old whiskies will seek out”. So let see what we think of this Compass Box The General.
Compass Box The General Review
As I have implied above, we have here a 33-year-old blended whisky, released in 2013. The blends used to make The General contained whiskies matured in both sherry and American oak casks. It is made at 66% with a potentially 40-year-old parcel of blended malt whisky (designated “Glen Calder”, which is not the name of a distillery), and 34% a 33-year-old parcel of blended Scotch whisky.
The final result gave 1,698 bottles at 53.4%, bottled without colouring nor chill filtration. It’s unfortunately long gone, but I bought a dram back in early August at the Golden Promise bar in Paris. Or try your luck at auction if you’re ready to pay quite a premium.
The nose really starts like a very old sherried whisky, with old books, old wood, and old leather. Imagine leather covered old books on a dusty wood bookcase in an old bookshop. Then the fruity side appears, with candied fruits but not very sweet, and dried fruits, like raisins and dried plums.
Strong and thick arrival, completely envelopes the palate, but it is also delicate at the same time. Orange, sherry and leather open the palate, joined by spices and a light citrusy sourness (grapefruit). There are some earthy notes reminiscing of an old cognac or armagnac as well.
With water, it becomes more citrusy and summery. Excellent!
Spices lead the finish, with chocolate, ginger, a touch of wood, and again that old sherried whisky profile. Stick of liquorice and mint.
This is absolutely delicious, and even better with a couple drops of water. Even though it’s not that old or made that long ago, probably 70s to 1980 for the younger cask, it feels old style. Quite magnificent. Now unfortunately you’ll have to front close to £2,000 to get one on auction. It seems the original price was about £200 / €230, so its price went almost tenfold in less than ten years… But that is unfortunately how things go with good whisky… But thanks to the Golden Promise, I didn’t have to front that much money to taste it, though I don’t exactly remember how much I paid for one centilitre. Probably around 60 to 70€, so quite a sum already.