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Issue 123 - It's All in the Mix

Whisky Magazine Issue 123
October 2014

 

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It's All in the Mix

The Compass Box Blending School

I didn't think going back to school was something I'd find myself doing in my middle age. However, my memories of back yonder didn't seem to bear much resemblance to what greeted me on arrival at the charmingly laid back studios where the clever people at Compass Box reside. John Glaser and Céline Têtu were our hosts for the day. My friends were already enjoying a cocktail when I arrived late morning so this seemed to be a good place to start.

I had visited the studios back in 2006 but they have recently been refurbished to gently separate the hard work from, well, the hard work, but slightly more enjoyable side of what goes on at the office. A large table spread with tasting mats and glasses, unlabelled bottles of spirit of varying colours, rustic bread sticks, spittoons, pipettes and a measuring kit awaited us. The motley crew assembled. We consisted of a retired excise man, some SMWS members and general enthusiasts, and big Steve, the man with the camera.

John started with a brief synopsis of what inspired him to develop what we know as Compass Box. Having worked on Johnnie Walker in New York, John decided to move to London. A self confessed ‘product geek' he was privileged to work with Master Blenders Maureen Robinson and Dr Jim Beveridge. John struck me as one who likes to ask a lot of questions, rather like when children get to that age when they keep asking ‘but why?' His love and interest in wine showed him that there were many successful independent wine ...

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