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Issue 25 - Box clever (John Glaser)

Whisky Magazine Issue 25
August 2002


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Box clever (John Glaser)

Dave Broom talks to John Glaser, the man exploring the boundaries of whisky

There's three things I look for when I make my whiskies," John Glaser is saying to me. "Flavour, creativity and pleasure: by which I mean moreishness and drinkability." There's 10 glasses in a circle between us precariously balanced on a table consisting of two boxes of Asyla and the end of an old cask of Cambus. We're in his new office in Marylebone, a place which, despite the poshest of postcodes, looks like a strange blend of avant-garde art gallery, second-hand bookshop and sample room. It's some contrast from our first meeting. I was up seeing Peter Warren at Cardhu and was invited to lunch at the adjoining Johnnie Walker 'home'. Some of the Walker team joined us, including their Global Marketing Director, a fresh-faced, clean-cut young American. Five of us dined in a vast room. It felt like eating at Charles Foster Kane's Xanadu. We talked, as you do on those occasions, of how to regenerate blends, of how to make whisky contemporary. The American seemed to have some pretty good ideas. He gave me his business card.

A year or so later a vaguely familiar figure approached me at London's bar show and gave me his business card. 'John Glaser' it said. 'Whisky zealot'. Now that's enough to make you start asking questions. He was still fresh-faced and clean-cut but now was promoting his one-man operation Compass Box and had just made his first whisky which he had assembled in his kitchen. Hang on, I thought. This man turned his back on the biggest blend in the world to make w...

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