Compass Box is a boutique independent whisky producer that was founded in 2000 by John Glaser. They have offices and blending rooms in both west London and Edinburgh. Their ethos is to buy whisky from a small number of distilleries and then craft them together into their own unique whiskies. The range includes single grain whiskies, vatted malts, blended whiskies (such as this Asyla) and other occasional releases. All are produced and released in small batches, often using only two or three single malts to create a unique product with a catchy name. By doing their own blending and vatting, Compass Box have less restrictions than other traditional independent bottlers and as a result, is a former winner of the prestigious Whisky Magazine's Innovator of the Year.
For further information on Compass Box and other independent bottling companies, then visit their page on our website whiskyforeveryone.com.
The story of Asyla
Asyla is a multi award winning blended whisky that forms part of Compass Box's core range. The name translates from the Gaelic language as 'a place of retreat and security' and it is made up of three single malt whiskies - Glen Elgin, Linkwood and Teaninich - and one grain whisky from the Cameron Bridge distillery. All the whiskies have been matured in ex-bourbon casks and are then blended together 12 months prior to bottling, so that they marry together perfectly. The final Asyla whisky is bottled at 40% ABV and should cost £25-30 a bottle from selected specialist alcohol retailers.
Our tasting notes
The colour of Asyla is a pale lemon yellow and is almost straw-like. The nose is very promising with a number of subtle and delicate notes present - vanilla, cereal grains, oak (imagine wood shavings/sawdust), citrus (think of lemon zest), apples and dried grasses. On the palate, this is light and fresh but again has a lot going on. It is unusual to find a whisky that is so light in nature but that also has the depth and complexity of flavour. There is plenty of sweet vanilla and this feels a little creamy in the mouth. This is followed by a lovely oakiness and some slightly bitter cereal grain characteristics (these give a good balance to that initial sweetness). Other elements that combine to form this lovely palate include some fairly intense lemon, dried pears and apples, almonds, honey and just the tiniest hint of some peaty smoke. The finish is short and crisp with plenty of vanilla and honey present. The overall feeling is that Asyla is refreshing and palate cleansing.
What's the verdict?
This is so easy drinking that it is dangerous! Asyla is a very good whisky that is light, delicate and fresh but still offers up plenty of sweetness and interest to the drinker. It may be too light for some but would be a great choice for a beginner or as an aperitif drink. Compass Box recommend it as such and say to try it chilled, straight from the fridge. Asyla demonstrates what happens when you have quality whiskies matured in quality casks that are then put together by a skilled blender. An excellent whisky at a good price too.