John Glaser | Photograph courtesy of Compass Box

John Glaser | Photograph courtesy of Compass Box

American John Glaser decided to enter the world of Scotch whisky after spending many years in the wine trade. In 2000, he started Compass Box Whisky Company with a goal to produce great blended Scotch whisky that “tastes delicious.”

Glaser shares his whisky & cheese pairing tips, along with his London whisky buying and drinking guide.

An American in Scotland

Compass Box was launched by Glaser over thirteen years ago, back when the Scotch whisky business “was in the doldrums.” As John points out it’s unlikely that with the popularity of Scotch today, even someone with his connections (he previously worked for Diageo) could do what he’s done. He was received in Scotland as someone new doing unusual things, but also someone who was doing interesting things with the national drink.


Parmigiano Reggiano

“A really simple, easy match is Parmigiano Reggiano, crumbled up into small and large pieces for people to pick at and pair with just about any Scotch whisky, but something delicate and light, like the Asyla or the Great King Street Artist Blend or the Hedonism. It’s beautiful as a little appetizer -- a bowl of crisps (chips), a bowl of Parmigiano Reggiano with a great whisky and a splash of water. The cheese really echoes and amplifies the flavors of the whisky.”


“Blue vein cheeses with smoky whiskies is another pairing I love. The assertiveness of the blue cheese stands up to the smokiness of the peated malt. Roquefort and Peat Monster is really nice.”

Cheddar + Comté

“We’ve had some good pairings with Spice Tree and Cheddar and Comté. Although cheddars can be so different, from the supermarket orange stuff to the real cheddar.”


SHOP | Whisky

Photograph courtesy of Hedonism Wines

Photograph courtesy of Hedonism Wines

Hedonism Wines

This shop is absolutely ridiculous. It just opened in 2012 and it is the most amazing wine store that I have ever been into in the world. They have whole rooms dedicated to d’Yquem and Sine Qua Non from California. I brought my son in here when I was shopping for Christmas and they have a space set up in the basement with iPads for the kids while you shop. Their spirits buyer, Toby, was given carte blanche. He collects whiskies from auction and has old, hard-to-find stuff and a well stocked selection of the essentials. It is out of this world.

3-7 Davies Street, London W1K 3LD
T: +44.(0)20.7989.0085 |

The Whisky Exchange | Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

The Whisky Exchange | Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

The Whisky Exchange

It’s in Borough Market and they have just about everything. The guys are super knowledgeable.

1 Bank End, London SE1 9BU
T: +44.(0)20.7403.8688 |

DRINK | Bars For Whisky

Photograph courtesy of MEATliquor

Photograph courtesy of MEATliquor


It’s a cool place to drink good whiskies in London without any of the pretentiousness. It’s one of my favorite places at the moment. I love coming here because it is the closest thing to an American dive bar that London has. They have an incredible American whiskey selection and their Scotch selection is not bad either.

74 Welbeck Street, London W1G 0BA
T: +44.(0)20.7224.4239 |


Photograph courtesy of Hawksmoor

Photograph courtesy of Hawksmoor


They do a really good job with Scotch and whiskey in general.
Spitalfields | 157a Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ | T: +44.(0)20.7426.4850 | BOOK A TABLE
Guildhall | 10 Basinghall Street, London, EC2V 5BQ | T: +44.(0)20.7397.8120 | BOOK A TABLE
Seven Dials | 11 Langley Street, London WC2H 9JG | T: +44.(0)20.7420.9390 | BOOK A TABLE
Air Street | 5a Air Street, London, W1J 0AD | T: +44.(0)20.7406.3980 | BOOK A TABLE
Knightsbridge | 3 Yeoman's Row, London SW3 2AL | T: +44.(0)20 7590 9290 | BOOK A TABLE

BONUS ROUND | Cocktail Recipes

John recommends trying three cocktails to highlight the expressions of the Compass Box whiskies.

The Penicillin

“When I started the business and created the style of the Peat Monster, the general thinking was that smokey whiskies are really difficult to sue for making cocktails. As the cocktail world has advanced, people have started to figure out really compelling ways to use them. Some people will trace it back to the creation of the Penicillin by Sam Ross in New York about ten years ago. He successfully made a citrus-based Scotch cocktail, topped with smokey Scotch. It really worked. Buy some ginger syrup, lime and some Great King Street whisky and a little bit of Peat Monster to top it. It’s gorgeous and simple.”


Based on the recipe originally created by Sam Ross

Yield: Serves 1
Glass: Old Fashioned
Ice: Large Cube
Garnish: Candied Ginger

- 2 oz. Great King Street Artist’s Blend
- 0.25 oz. Peat Monster
- 0.75 oz. ginger / honey syrup
- 0.75 oz. fresh lemon juice

1) Combine Great King Street, lemon juice and syrup in a shaker.
2) Fill with ice and shake.
3) Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and float the Peat Monster.
4) To make the ginger / honey syrup, add equal parts honey and water (1/2 cup) in a saucepan and whisk over medium heat until combined. Add about an ounce of peeled, sliced fresh ginger and bring to boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool completely and strain.

Peat Monster Old Fashioned

“The Peat Monster Old Fashioned is one of my favorite drinks right now. Because of the extra new oak aging that the whisky gets, there’s this lovely richness and sweetness and spice-like characters t that make it ideal for cocktails.”


Recipe courtesy of Compass Box

Yield: Serves 1
Glass: Old Fashioned
Ice: Large Cube
Garnish: Orange Zest

- 1.75 oz. Peat Monster
- Dash Angostura Bitters
- Sugar Cube or 1/2 teaspoon loose sugar

1) Add bitters to sugar in an Old Fashioned glass.
2) Muddle sugar thoroughly.
3) Add large ice cube.
4) Add Peat Monster and stir.
5) Garnish with orange zest.

Maime Taylor

Our Great King Street whisky makes a beautiful cocktail. The Maime Taylor is not well known, but it’s a classic cocktail that goes back almost a hundred years. It’s basically a Moscow Mule made with Scotch. It’s lime, ginger beer, and Great King Street Artist Blend. The Great King Street is so big and fat, it stands up to that kind of drink.

Recipe courtesy of Compass Box

Yield: Serves 1
Glass: High Ball
Ice: Ice Cubes
Garnish: Lime Zest

- 2 oz. Great King Street Artist’s Blend
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
- 4 oz. ginger beer

1) Squeeze half a lime into a highball glass full of ice.
2) Add whisky and top with a good quality spicy ginger beer.
3) Stir briefly and garnish with a zest of lime.

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