While the singular evokes images of the House of Ratched, the eponymous plural appears in such divergent realms as whisky and pugilism (little known fact: the rematch between Ali and Foreman, had it taken place, would have been the Asyla from Islay). Though we miss seeing Ali dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee and we often recall fondly the days before George started hawking a greaseless grill, we here at the Malt Impostor share the opinion that, even factoring what might have been in the Hebrides, Compass Box has clearly made the more important and lasting contribution to this singular plural term (and, I should note, without any apparent reference or connection to Islay per se). The Compass Box Asyla is a true sobriquet, providing the drinker with a host of delightful places to retreat and effectively evade the authorities of everyday life. On the nose, nasturtiums soaked in twice-dried plum juice (a.k.a.–a prune juice reduction). In the mouth, chocolate candies mixed with knish, alongside Sweet Tarts™, fruity Pop-Tarts®, Beaux-Arts, upstarts, but definitely not fish parts. The sweetness here is perfectly balanced—it’s sweet, but really nice, like your great aunt’s bosom when she gives you a hug for a good report card. On the finish, the vanilla and American oak come to the fore, hiding a hint of tart fruit behind them, as though they were trying—implausibly—to keep you from noticing it there: imagine George Washington chopped down the cherry tree, licked the sap from the stump, then tried to evade detection by keeping his lips tightly pursed over his wooden teeth. But the finish keeps going, slightly sweet and thrumming just beneath the surface, threatening to break through at any moment with a trilling crescendo reminiscent of a Wagnerian Opera. Fortunately for all involved, in this one, Zarathustra never speaks.
–On the scale of sweet treats–
The Compass Box Asyla is a top-notch cannoli–It’s a sophisticated choice and one that won’t make your teeth hurt. If you prefer birthday cake or gobstoppers instead, just grow up.
*Our thanks to Robin Robinson and Compass Box for the samples. Robin, we raise a glass to you. Slàinte!