Johnny Scotch Top Shelf Review 2 – Oak Cross blended malt scotch whiskey from Compass Box
I like my scotch like I like my women. Straight, single, and complex. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my dalliances outside of my comfort zone on occasion. When it came to my first experience with Oak Cross, it was an experience worth traveling outside of my general taste of single malt, well aged scotch to take in the varied flavors afforded to me with each sip.
Like any good tasting experience, my first time with Oak Cross comes was enhanced by the secret passages and dark recesses of a speakeasy. I was in Vegas, a town where the underworld is part of the daily grind and people shill themselves like they sell their goods. After taking in an evening of piano bar shenanigans in the old downtown, it was time to have a serious drink. I turned to Joey. He knew these streets and establishments like no other. It turned out, the only place he wanted to go was the only place that I would have asked for.
The bar had no name for visitors to find, but only because to the general public it did not exist. Joey took me down the street to a hipster driven bar that I would not be caught dead in. I was hesitant but he assured me he knew what he was doing. He checked his phone for a returned message and within a few minutes of standing outside he told me to follow him. We walked up to the wall of a man that stood guard at the door. Joey looked at him with a grin and spoke two words that I couldn’t make out over the din of thumping bass lines that hammered away from inside. The bouncer gave a grunt and Joey held up two fingers. He gave a slow nod, turned and led us into the disco-nouveau tainted surroundings.
I was expecting to be led to a loud, strobe light infused booth for table service. But we were led past the roar, to the far wall, just out of sight of the rest of the rooms gyrating patrons. Our muscled escort slid away a small bit of wall to reveal a keypad. He punched in a series of numbers and the wall slid away to reveal an exposed brick stairway down into the basement of the building. My wariness melted away with each step down into the darkened passage along with the ruckus noise from the club above. The narrow, winding stairwell opened up into a small dim lit room filled with vintage furniture and a bar with a single bar tender providing each patron with a customized experience for a flat rate per drink.
The bouncer showed us to the only two seats left and we settled into the comfortable stools at the bar. The smoke tinged husky voice, bright green eyes, and red-haired bar matron welcomed us as she asked us what our pleasure was. I asked for a scotch, neat. She inquired as to my tastes and I gave her a tour of my list of favorites. She noted my flavor palette and I fully expected to be poured a Lagavulin or Oban, or something on my list. She waved off all of those and procured a clear bottle with a cornflower label adorned with gold lettering and decorations. What she poured was a generous two fingers of Oak Cross. It’s blonde coloring danced in my tumbler, inviting me to dip my toe in it’s waters.
One whiff and I was transported. The spice laden notes lit up my senses. Clove and cinnamon and burnt sugars laced the smells that wafted up to me. I anticipated a spiced cider experience but was rewarded with something completely different. I brought the glass to my lips and the buttery texture coated my taste buds with a soft caramel flavor that was overshadowed by the taste of leather and earth and the gentle hint of wood. A soft warmth chased the alcohol down as I swallowed and the smooth finish hung with me in just the right way.
It was partly due to the environment and partly due to the fact that Compass Box, the company that distills Oak Cross, really knows what they are doing when they craft the flavor of their liquors. Since that day, when given a choice, I tend to lean towards a bottle of Oak Cross whenever I have it in my sights. It always brings me back to that speakeasy and never disappoints my palette with its buttery delivery of complex but not overpowering flavors.
This review was provided without solicitation for Oak Cross Blended Malt Whiskey, by Compass Box Scotch Whiskey Maker. John Dover is the writer of Johnny Scotch and professional musician based out of Portland OR. For more writing from John Dover, visit www.mythmachine.net, and http://johnnyscotchjustice.com