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Issue 95 - The Boutique Whisky Maker

Whisky Magazine Issue 95
April 2011


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The Boutique Whisky Maker

John Glaser has been pushing the whisky envelope at Compass Box for more than 10 years. But as Dominic Roskrow found out, he belives we 'ain't seen nothing' yet

?Has John Glaser run out of steam? After years of making cutting edge whiskies where else is there for Compass Box to go? Is the company heading off on to a side track and hurtling towards the buffers? After more than a decade admiring Glaser's work, asking such questions is totally legitimate. But it takes about 10 seconds from walking through the door of Compass Box's West London office to have all doubts well and truly kicked in to the long grass.

Sitting in front of Glaser when I arrive are Tristan Stephenson and Ryan Chetiyawardana. And if those names mean nothing to you, then the individuals in question are the metaphorical equivalent of donning a white coat, lining up the test tubes, and shouting ‘I'm a mad professor!' Tristan Stephenson is a member of the Fluid Movement and a director of London bar Purl, an atmospheric cellar bar dripping in Jack Ripper Goth chic where Stephenson and his colleagues serve Laphroaig cocktails in domes pumped full of wood smoke, and where dry ice, foam and various gases are all on the menu. They are experimenting with a scent invented by a French perfumier called ‘the smell of fear'. This is ‘molecular mixology' and these guys are doing for drinks what Heston Blumenthal is doing for food.

Ryan Chetiyawardana, is, quite simply, a drinks genius. He applies science to alcohol with mind-boggling results, he loves distilling and everything that goes with it, and at the end of April he will be the bar manager at The Worship Street Wh...

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