[Stephen was lucky enough to try this whisky with John Glaser when it was unveiled at last year’s WhiskyFest New York. Our thanks to John Glaser, once again, for donning the Grouchos for a photo in Stephen’s review.]
Unlike the city of New York, the Great King Street New York Blend is delicate on the nose, like walking between two clotheslines in the summer. It’s late afternoon, long after the sun has dried the t-shirts and undergarments carefully hung with real wooden clothespins. Who uses those anymore? you think to yourself while you run your hands along the blue-white cotton fabric as the breeze pushes them in around your face and arms and you’ve pulled down one of the shirts and gotten your arms through the arm holes when a “Hey!” rings out with the resolution of pistol shot. You’re running now through a low gate and down an alley. Herring and fried dough hang in the air like—well, kind of like those clothes, you think to yourself, as you touch the softness of the shirt, your sweat beading up underneath it—and you find yourself at a Scandinavian street fair and move toward the crowd. Except, these folks all being Scandinavians, there isn’t much of a crowd, nor sufficient merriment to warrant a street closure. The mouth is shock—a shock of recognition not at all unlike what happens when another “Hey!” cracks the air like thunder. It’s go time, you say to yourself and then wince at the cliché, vowing to tilt your Netflix queue toward more art house choices, and like 400 Blows it hits you that the mouth is refined, sophisticated, and, in a word, aristocratic. And just then—bam!—you smash your thigh against a pushcart serving unusual gallette cookies. Look at the little waffles–how quaintly European!, you think to yourself, wincing this time only at the pain in your leg. They have a caramel-gruyère center, making them astonishingly gooey, more than your t-shirt can handle as you wipe your hands in downward strokes to clean them. The finish—yours as well as the whisky’s—is a story of corn grilled in husks peeled back long enough to add butter and Old Bay® seasoning, persimmon cut on a meat slicer after the mortadella, and a tray of vegan oysters-on-the-half-shell made from flax seeds and grappa then placed in imitation scrimshaw facsimile oyster shells. All of which is to say, it is outstanding.
The Compass Box Great King Street New York Blend is Barnett Newman–A marvelous blend of capabilities—philosophy major at CCNY, prolific writer, and beloved teacher—Barney’s subject matter was the sublime, just as is true of this Compass Box expression. “I hope that my painting has the impact of giving someone, as it did me, the feeling of his own totality, of his own separateness, of his own individuality.”
–Our thanks to Robin Robinson and Compass Box for the sample!