Whisky Review – Compass Box Asyla

Apologies for the lack of recent posts.  I have no excuse.  I’m lazy.  Here’s hoping this post begins a run of regular posts.  It’s no fun starting every post with an apology for lack of activity.

Let’s move on.  My next review is of a blended whisky from the good folks at Compass Box.  At least I’m guessing that they are good folks.  For whatever reason, I imagine that anyone involved in the whisky industry is a good person.  Because they, in some small way, bring me joy.  Anyhow, it seems that Compass Box is setting the interwebs on fire.  A few months back, having recently read that the Whisky Advocate had named Compass Box’s Great King Street as their Blended Whisky of the Year, I figured that it was a worthwhile early Scotch purchase (especially with its sub-$40 price tag).  So off I drove to a big, supermarket-type liquor store to pick up the GKS, and wouldn’t you know they don’t carry it.  I did, however, spot the Compass Box Asyla and, too lazy to drive down the road to the next liquor store, did a quick iPhone search for Asyla reviews.  After seeing a few positive writeups, I grabbed it and was on my way.

Perhaps not the most scientific reasoning, but hey, things happen for a reason.  Right?  Right?

Let’s go to the tasting notes.

Nose – A nice light nose, and one whose flavors I found difficult to nail down.  Honeyed apple sweetness, an herbal (grass? mint?) note, and a surprisingly robust alcohol heat that singes the nose hairs a bit (not that I have nose hairs – I wax).

Taste – On the palate, I was again surprised that the heat hits first and is really a primary component of the taste.  Also, less sweet then expected.  Some juniper and a hint of vanilla.  Very light-bodied and subtle.  After 15 or 20 minutes exposed to the open air, it seems to loosen up a bit, becoming smoother with some of the sweet flavors being highlighted (including a taste of banana?).

Finish – The finish remains rather dry, and gives a pleasant gentle warmness.

In my opinion, not a whisky that benefits from a splash of water.

ScoreB-.  It seems that this was just too light and delicate for me.  I enjoy a nice light, honeyed dram as much as the next guy, but this was just too small.  One other note – I had this bottle open for more than a full month before I wrote down my tasting notes.  That is often the case, as I only bring out my notebook from time to time, and am usually just enjoying a leisurely drink.  It seems that over the course of time, my appreciation for the Asyla faded.  Early on, I quite enjoyed it, but by the time I wrote down my notes, it was too small/light for my tastes.  Now, it could be that my tastes are changing rapidly (which they are, without question), but perhaps it could also be that the whisky changes after it has been open a while?  I’ve seen other references on the whiskynets to this happening.  But this is the only bottle that seemed to experience such a drastic change.  What say you, whisky commenters?

Other, better reviews:

Official Notes from Compass Box

Whisky Israel

Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society

It’s Just The Booze Dancing



8 comments on “Whisky Review – Compass Box Asyla

  1. G-LO says:

    Thanks for the link to our review! I had a similar experience with the initial heat and had to let it open up a bit. Keep in mind that I was working with a 50ml sample, but what I had, I really enjoyed. One word for the rest of that bottle: highball! A tall glass. Some ice. Club soda. I think this would be great for that. Especially with summer coming.


  2. I own a bottle of Asyla. Unlike other blends, this is a 50/50 single malt, single grain whisky blend. As I understand it, the grain whisky is usually a lighter but also less flavourful whisky. That being said, I think my Asyla has a place in my collection. I agree, It’s actually quite nice with a bit of club soda, lime and mint.

    • Yes, I could see mixing this into a light, cool summer cocktail. Unfortunately, my bottle has been drained, so I won’t be trying that out anytime soon. Thanks.

  3. I got a mini of it yesterday, so I’ll review it one of these days. Sadly, I can’t say that my hopes are too high.

  4. Florin says:

    I haven’t had the Asyla, but I recently finished my half-bottle of GKS, and based on your notes and my experience, there may be some relevance here. I opened that bottle on a night of blends and blended malts with friends. In that company, GKS did not stand a chance, it was simply too light in aromas and flavor, compared to the likes of Oak Cross and Blue Hanger. Whisky of the year, my knee, I said! However, a few weeks later, in an extended session by the side of a sunny pool, it was great! I very rarely drink whisky on the rocks — in fact, this was the first time I really enjoyed one! With ice, the creamy sweetness, balance, and impeccable polish of this whiskey shone through, and made an already beautiful day perfect. It sounds like Asyla may behave similarly. I had a quick run-through of the Compass Box range a few months back in a store tasting, and the grain whiskies and blends did not impress me. They are simply not made for comparison tasting, nor in some cases for drinking neat.

    As for open bottles changing taste, they definitely do, some for better some for worse. A WT Kentucky Spirit bottle was almost undrinkable when I opened it, dry, woody, and with an edgy bitterness, but now a couple weeks later it’s really blossoming into a whiskey of balance and depth, which I like as much as the recently finished WT Rare Breed. I’d be surprised though if your whisky lost its flavor in only one month…

    • Hard to imagine enjoying a whisky with ice. If anything, I’d think that I would enjoy a sturdier single malt more than a blend, as it might be able to better stand up to the dilution,

      Interesting comment on the Kentucky Spirit vs. the Rare Breed – those two just so happened to be the subjects of my next post.

      • Florin says:

        Well, go figure. It seems that this John Glaser guy may be up to something, after all… 🙂

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