Scotch is a wonderful category of whiskey. You have distinctive regions that, while there are exceptions, give you a few qualities to expect depending on where they're distilled. The Lowlands offers whiskeys generally light and floral. With Islay, you can usually rely on peat. Speyside, the largest per capita region is very diverse, but you can count on sweet and rich whiskeys. Campbeltown suggests briny, smokey choices. The Highlands is probably the most challenging to pin down, as the region is incredibly vast, consisting of islands, grasslands, and mountains. You can find peated, fruity, floral, and everything across the spectrum.
There are Scotch drinkers who will only drink single malts and simply do not consider blends. My whiskey philosophy has always been to #DrinkCurious and I believe anyone who limits what they drink does themselves no favors. Single malts are easy, and not all single malts are great or even good - just like any other whiskey category. And, while there are some poor blends, there are some purely amazing representations, with everything in between. A blend is when a distiller wants to arrive at a finish point and has to map the way there. I describe it as an art form.
Today I'm reviewing Compass Box's Asyla, which is (as you can guess) a blended Scotch. By a blended Scotch (different than blended malt or blended grain), it means it is distilled of both malted barley and grains. One of the things I always give props to Compass Box for is its transparency. Compass Box has no issues telling you where they source from and what the makeup of each whiskey is.
Asyla is blended from four different distilleries: Cameronbridge (Lowland), Glen Elgin (Speyside), Teaninich (Highland), and Linkwood (Speyside). Cameronbridge is 50% of the blend and the only grain content. It was aged in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels. Glen Elgin, on the other hand, is the smallest component, with only 5%, and used refilled hogsheads. Teaninich was 23% using first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels, and Linkwood the remaining 22%, also using first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels. It is non-chill filtered, naturally-colored, and bottled at 40% ABV. Retail for a 750ml is approximately $49.99.
Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Asyla presents as very light, almost like straw or hay. It left a very thin rim on the wall that generated fast, thick legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.
Nose: Very fruity aromas consisting of peach, honey, and apple permeated my nostrils. When I inhaled through my lips, it was a combination of big, strong apple and vanilla.
Palate: The mouthfeel was airy and delicate. As it flowed across my palate, the front was a marriage of apple and citrus flavors. Then, at mid-palate, it became grassy and earthy. But, try as I might, I could not find anything on the back. It was so muted there was just nothing to discern.
Finish: All of this led to the finish which, despite the lack of anything on the back, was longer than I anticipated. It was all pepper and oak, most likely from the Bourbon barrels.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Compass Box whiskeys are a mixed bag. Some are priced well into triple digits, others are very affordable. Some are excellent, others not so much. I have high regard for it, though, and a willingness to stick its neck out there and experiment. So, where does Asyla fall on this range? Somewhere in the middle. It is a decent bargain Scotch and very uncomplicated, but due to the muting on the palate, this may not be for everyone. I was happy to taste it but wouldn't buy it myself. As such, Asyla earns a Bar rating. Cheers!
- Bottle = Buy it
- Bar = Try it first
- Bust = Leave it
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.