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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

What's In A Name?

What’s the most difficult thing about being in a band?

Is it learning to play your instrument?


Is it writing some hit songs?


Maybe it is your image. Working a natural style that no one has had before. Iconic yet easy. Surely, that must be it?


The hardest thing about being in a band is, of course, finding a band name.

You can pour for hours over a copy of The Racing Post, mixing horses’ names with greyhounds. Today alone you could form a band called “Somewhere In Atlanta” or “Big Man Little Man”. Both names, I’m sure you will agree, of bands destined to stay playing in their local pub for the rest of eternity.

Another option is to use a website such as Random Band Name Generator. A genius idea for the ultra-lazy creative, the site gives you an option for a key word and away you go.

Our first effort yielded the following results:

Serious Of The Colony / Dart Verbal / Earl Of The Effect / Lovely Fetus / Ruthless Storm / Chafing Transport And The Wood / Pivotal Candle / Introduction Of The Lipstick / Bending Uranium And The Misspent Spoon / Dumpy Of The Fetal

Honestly. This is all true.

Now, transpose this problem to producing and marketing your own blend.

What is the hardest thing about putting together a blend?

Is the hardest thing getting hold of interesting, quality casks of good single malts?


Is it working out, drop by drop, which of the subtle flavours to mix together to produce the ideal blend?


Clearly, the hardest thing to do is to choose a great name for your blend. A task made even harder if you're not Scottish (no traditional Celtic imagery to call upon) or if your Great-Great-Great-Great Granddaddy didn’t own a grocers in Kilmarnock...

Well, step up to the plate Compass Box and take a bow for your wonderfully named blends:

Flaming Heart / The Peat Monster / Hedonism / Asyla / Lady Luck / Double Single.

All wonderful names, with fantastic bottles and lovely artwork (esp Lady Luck)

But we’re not here to talk about the quality of the packaging. I’ll leave that to other blogs. Let’s take a look at their whisky to see if it is equally as wonderful:

Double Single – Compass Box 10th Anniversary Bottling – 53.3% - 876 Bottles only

Seriously, though. Check out that bottle shot. Beautiful.

This whisky has been brought out to celebrate 10 Years of Compass Box; two single casks, one malt, one grain. The malt is 18 Year Old Glen Elgin (which makes up 76% of the bottling) from a refill American Oak Hogshead and the grain is 21 Year Old Port Dundas from a First Fill American Oak Hogshead. Openness and honesty about your blend? That’s surely the way forward. Keeping it all hidden just makes us feel Blue.

Nose: Sweet kiwi fruit, a hint of banana, some pineapple and a touch of butter scotch. Light and well balanced.

Palate: Lots of hazelnuts and butter, with a hint of vanilla and grapefruit juice at full strength. With water the gentle pineapple notes are pushed through with wood / oak notes coming much more to the fore.

Finish: Crème Brulee and grapefruit juice neat, with water the finish is more pronounced vanilla pods and oak spices with hint of ginger

Overall: A very delicate, very easy to drink blend that used the Port Dundas grain to provide a launch pad for the refill Hoggy Glen Elgin to show off it’s butterscotch and grapefruit identity.

Now on to the second whisky we have from Compass Box, also to celebrate their 10th Anniversary.

Flaming Heart – Compass Box 10th Anniversary Bottling – 48.9% - 4,186 bottles

Again, look at the label. If I drank a whole bottle of this on my own, I’d fall into a tattooist and get this label as a tat on my arm. It is simply stunning.

7 single malt whiskies from the Highlands and Islands, including something from near Brora, something from near Caol Ila and something from the Isle of Mull...!

Nose: This whisky gives a real kick of smoke but backed with a richness and wisdom to not kick you in the teeth completely; kinda like Marianne Faithful, this whisky has seen a lot but has ultimately come out the other end richer for the experience with a real story to tell. There is everything going on in this nose. Smoke, walnuts, some juicy fruit chewing gum, baked potato, rich Christmas cake. It’s really very complex without screaming at you.

Palate: Earthy and salty gives way to an amazing rich brandy butter palate which dances around your palate with exciting verve and vigour grabbing cinnamon and cloves as it moves. A wonderfully rich mouth feel. Sweet and rounded with good hit of peat. Lovely, yet totally different to anything I’ve had in a while.

Finish: Red apples, peat and, yup more peat. Once the fire dies down there is some salt and red grapes. Long and warming.

Overall: This is how a blend should be: full of lots of different personalities. Too many blends are like a Mondrian painting for me, just blocks of different colours. This is a Jackson Pollock. Vibrant and unusual, yet somehow beautiful and structured.

There we have it. Compass Box deliver once more. Two very different blends, but suited to very different occasions. For me the pick of the two is Flaming Heart, a bottling which such a small company delivers with amazing consistency. The Double Single is light and delicate and the perfect pre-dinner whisky, but for the full impact of flavours and to totally confuse your senses, grab yourself a bottle of the Flaming Heart 10th Anniversary while you can!

As for me... I’m off to get a tattoo.