Compass Box – Great King Street launches in South Africa

I confess that I am very partial to John Glaser’s philosophy about whisky, and have a fond affection for many of the Compass Box products. I also had a small hand in importing the first shipment of Compass Box into South Africa. So what I have to say is not, strictly speaking, impartial. Formalities out the way – I am hugely excited about this launch.

Compass Box has always come out with exciting, innovative, superb quality whiskies.  What they are doing now at Whisky Live is the Compass Box Art of Blending Zone, where, to  celebrate the “Rebirth of the Blend”, visitors to the festival can attend the Compass Box Art of Blending Zone at the show – here you and your friends can experience a unique tasting session followed by a do-it-yourself blending lesson – a first for the Whisky Live Festival!  Each night, the Blending Zone will operate with the following sessions and seats are limited to only 32 people per tasting – so contact Liquidity now to reserve your seat!


Session 1: 18:15- 19:00

Session 2: 19:20– 20:05

Session 3: 20:25 – 21:05

Session 4: 21:20 – 22:00


Seat Reservations can be made by contacting Charlotte on or 084 2200 822.

Now, for the press release below:

New range from award-winning Scotch whiskymaker

Compass Box Whisky Co. heralds ‘Rebirth of the Blend’

“This is more than a brand; it’s a mission. A mission to get people – all people – to take a fresh look at Blended Scotch; to join in the Rebirth of the Blend: in how Blends are made, how they are viewed, how they are consumed.”  – John Glaser, Whiskymaker


Founded in October 2000, Compass Box Whisky Co. is kicking off its second decade by launching a new range solely dedicated to Blended Scotch Whisky – called Great King Street.


The first whisky in the range – the Artist’s Blend – launches in South Africa in November 2011 in conjunction with the acclaimed Whisky Live Festival. Available exclusively in a 50cl format – the first Blended Scotch whisky to do so – and bottled at 43%, the whisky is rich, round and fruity with hints of toasty oak, vanilla and spice.  The name and label are inspired by Compass Box’s registered office address in Scotland – 24 Great King Street, in Edinburgh.


Glaser explains, “In a world where malt whisky gets all the attention, people often overlook the pleasures of good Blended Scotch. We believe that Great King Street will change this. There are good reasons why the blending of grain whisky and malt whisky has been the mainstay of the Scotch industry for over 100 years. Well-made Blended Scotches have an elegance and approachability that make them a joy to drink.  Great King Street will offer a new and compelling alternative for both whisky enthusiasts who ordinarily drink only malt whiskies, and for whisky novices.


By applying the same skill, techniques and philosophy that we use for the Compass Box Signature Range of whiskies, Great King Street will offer a style and approach to Blended Scotch that has not existed before. The keys are using individually chosen casks from some of Scotland’s best distilleries, a high proportion of malt whisky, truly excellent quality grain whiskies, and the careful use of new French Oak aging for added complexity.  All bottled at a natural colour and without chill-filtering. We call whiskies made with this approach ‘craft blends’.”


As you might expect from a four-time Whisky Magazine ‘Innovator of the Year’, Compass Box is also looking to use Great King Street as a way to encourage different ways of drinking whisky:


As John puts it, “As well as being delicious neat, Great King Street is equally enjoyable drunk with ice, as a refreshing Highball with soda water and ice, or in cocktails. One of the wonderful things about a whisky highball is that it slips down as easily as beer.  This gives us whisky lovers a refreshing whisky-based drink for all sorts of different occasions—at the bar with friends after work, on a warm day, parties, receptions, even with food (particularly Asian food). We believe it is time for a renaissance of the Highball.”


Compass Box Scotch Whiskies are proudly distributed in South Africa by Liquidity, purveyors of premium and super-premium wines and spirits. Their portfolio also includes Patrón Tequila, De Toren Private Cellar and Jean Daneel wines, Buffalo Trace American whiskies, Germana Cachaça and Wilderer Grappa.


Website and




The Compass Box Whisky Company is a boutique Scotch whiskymaker and craft blender, started in 2000 by John Glaser.  Compass Box produces and bottles a range of Scotch whiskies, available in over 25 countries around the world.  A four-time winner of the Whisky Magazine Innovator of the Year award, Compass Box is known throughout the whisky world for quality, innovation and passion for great whisky. The Compass Box signature range of whiskies includes Asyla, Oak Cross, The Peat Monster, The Spice Tree and Hedonism.  They also produce limited release whiskies annually, and Orangerie, a Scotch whisky infusion.




American ex-pat John Glaser started Compass Box Whisky Company from the kitchen of his west London home in 2000.  Having started his career on a path to become a winemaker, then re-routing himself through the corporate world and ending up as marketing director for Johnnie Walker in London, Glaser has a unique perspective on both the creation and the marketing of Scotch whisky.


Glaser established Compass Box based on his commitment to evolving practices in the industry to make great Scotch whisky more approachable and relevant to more people.  From the beginning, his vision has been to create one of Scotland’s finest and most exciting whisky companies, re-establishing the standards for quality and style in the industry.



1 Comment

  1. Thanks Bernard, A lovely piece. And thank you for beginning the Compass Box revolution in South Africa all those years ago! In response to the comment that we are ‘certainly not the first blended scotch available in a 500ml bottle’ we have to hold our hands up. Some internet research has unearthed Bells 500ml and a J&B 500ml versions, even though I confess that I have never seen them on the market. Other than that though, I think Great King Street is the only 500ml Blended Scotch around – and I think the only one too to use this format as its primary size. I would also like to humbly suggest that it’s the most delicious too! However, we should have done more research before making this comment so apologies and thanks for pointing out the error. And if there are other 500ml Blended Scotch Whiskies in existence please let us know about them!

Comments are closed.