The General 1

Before you ask…no, Bing Crosby didn’t drink Compass Box whisky.

Now you’re probably wondering why I’ve a) stated that, and b) why there is a picture of Bing Crosby with the company’s latest release: The General.

Well…in Miss Whisky’s land (which is a slightly quirky one) it is rather simple. You see, when I was going through some whiskies I had to sample and saw The General, the first thing that came to my mind was the song that Bing and Co sing in White Christmas (definitely one of the best Christmas films ever) that goes…“What can you do with a general, when he stops being a general…”

And now…now I can’t get the song out of my head. It’s driving me slightly crazy. But it at least kicked out a London Grammar song that had been on loop for about 10 days so that’s the positive aspect of this experience.

Of course, equally helpful about this experience is not only do I get to have a moment thinking about a great Christmas film (it’s February…we all need a bit of a pick me up that doesn’t involve Valentine’s Day I think) but I also get to sample a rather exciting whisky.

As background, The General is a limited edition release from those cool kings of the blending world, Compass Box, which comprises only 1,698 bottles. According to the company, the provenance of the whisky is not exactly known (something I believe, as CB are always very honest about where and in what proportions the whiskies in their blends come from).

The story goes like this: “Two different companies approached us recently with similar stories: they each had several casks of Blended Scotch that had been blended at quite young ages, then not required and put back into cask and left to age. One parcel was 33 years-old and the other was…well, I’m afraid I can’t tell you.”

I’d had the chance to try a teeny dash of this when I was visiting the company’s distributors at the back end of last year, before it had hit the market and I was blown away. So much so, I didn’t take any notes – I just sat there enjoying the whisky for what it was.

Now I’ve had the chance to take a wee moment to sit down and try it again, this time with pen and paper to hand. And a bit of Bing on in the background (weirdly, I’m not kidding…an old Bing Crosby song happened to play on the jazz station I was listening to while writing this post…spooky)…

So, here’s what I thought:

TheGeneral-BottleCompass Box: The General: 53.4%: £200:

(c): Amber tinted toffee

(n): Simply delectable – really sticky fruit nose leads, almost as if caramels had been melted with strawberry foams, Fuzzy Peaches (the sweetie, not the fruit) and candy wrappers. There’s just a hint of something lemony and smoky in the background to give it extra depth. With water, the nose becomes fresher, with notes of lemons, oranges, pink peppercorns and freshly mown grass.

(p): A big, full mouthfeel with lots of that same stickiness coming through along with baking bread, orange peel, brown sugar and fruit cake. Becomes ‘darker’ as it sits on the palate. With water, it really opens up on the palate too: bit more spicy, something early, some grass and lemon cream.

(f): Liquorice and cardboard. With water, more leathery.

In conclusion, there is loads going on with this whisky…so many layers. I think you could keep coming back to it and finding something really different each time. A seriously classy dram. Bing would have liked this, I’ve no doubt.