Events — 15 May 2012
Compass Box Whisky Company Tasting at Highlands Bar is dedicated to keeping you informed about the fantastic world of fine spirits and the culture it lives in. That is why anytime an event happens around town, you will find us there. I know what you’re thinking. Hard job right? Well, someone has to do it. On Monday night we headed to the West Village’s popular Highlands Bar and Restaurant, sister of the recently reviewed Whitehall and the recently shuttered Mary Queen of Scots, for a thorough tasting of the ‘Compass Box Whisky Company’s‘ line of artisan Scotch Whiskies with Compass Box Brand U.S. Ambassador, Robin Robinson.

Highlands Bar was the perfect setting for a tasting event of this caliber. The bar is known city-wide for its ever changing menu of exciting cocktails. On this particular night, “The Brooklyn Bar Chef” Max Messier would be manning the bar, expertly mixing cocktails featuring Compass Box Whisky. Messier’s love for the Mixology movement is evident by the inventive combination of spirits he poured leaving patrons hungry to learn about what goes into the tasty concoction.

Robinson ran these intimate barside tastings in small groups to maximize their effect. I joined a group of highly informed West Village residents for a six bottle tasting of the ‘Compass’ line. The first offering of which was ‘Great King St.,’ a highly drinkable, yet rich scotch with hints of oak. The nose presented a full bouquet of vanilla and spices. ‘Great King St.’ is a beverage even the most amateur scotch drinker can enjoy, flexible enough to even win over folks who have sworn off the spirits on name alone.

The tasting was highly interactive, allowing guests to chat with Mr. Robinson in between sips. When a question came up regarding the raw ingredients used to produce many of the ‘Compass Box’ line, Robininson was quick to pull out of bottle of said ingredient for the group to waft. The creation of each Scotch Whisky is truly a science but most importantly a labor of love. And speaking of love, another favorite of the evening was the ‘Oak Cross,’ a whisky that ages between 10 and 12 years in French oak barrels. Everything about its character yielded subtle, smooth tones allowing for each individual flavor a time to shine- a perfect compliment to a cigar night with the guys.

Another favorite offering of the evening was a much celebrated pour of ‘The Peat Monster.’ Before even taking a sip, the strong peat-filled nose hit like a pleasant ton of bricks. The producers aren’t lying- this drink is a beast! The tasting brought forth big, smoky malt flavors evoking some of our most highly enjoyable taste sensations. My fellow tasters and I agreed that it’s a pleasure to drink and a lot of fun to chat about. But you don’t have to take my opinion, this peaty monster won big at the World Whiskies Awards 2009, for the  ’World’s Best Scotch Vatted Malt Whiskey.’

The great staff at Highlands Bar made this a spirited evening, with the help of Robin Robinson and the folks at Compass Box. Whenever a tasting is going down in your neighborhood, or a train ride away we highly advise you to attend. They are fun and informative ways to learn about expertly crafted liquors, while getting a slight buzz on a weekday night. Either way it’s a win, win.

- Jay Rubin

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