Whisky & Food....

   

In 2006 after hosting many whisky tastings I felt that there must be a possibility to pair some whiskies with food dishes and, if I could get the combinations correct, achieve a whole new experience and dimension to whisky evenings. I studied my own tasting notes and also those of more renowned experts, in the search for specific nuances and styles which could be combined with certain food flavours in the hope of designing a full evening's menu which would provide a synergy of flavours, as opposed to a disastrous clash of overpowering ones.

 
 

I was also fortunate to have an excellent local restaurant owned by a very good chef whose interest was immediately aroused by this idea. So, once I had selected a choice of whiskies I sat with him for a couple of hours to discuss concepts and flavours. We eventually designed what we believed to be a synergous menu and at that moment, Whisky Emporium's gourmet whisky evenings were born.

 

 

 

On this page you will find details of the various menues we have offered, along with my comments on the success and my guests' acceptance of them. All I ask of you is that you open your mind to an alternative dimension of whisky experience, whether as a full menu or just individual dishes and above all; enjoy!

Slàinte Mhath and Bon Appetit

 

 

  Menu 1:

Whisky & Food, can it really work?

   
 

 
 

Aperitif; Rosebank 1990, Murray McDavid

 
 

A pretty good opening whisky, but slightly stronger in flavour that my previously tasted Rosebanks. Yes, it was light (-ish) and flowery, but it also had slightly stronger overtones of liquorice.

     
  Medley of tomato bruschetta and pizza pane.   Bruichladdich "Waves"(Edition 1), 7 years old.  
 

This Bruichladdich Waves is in itself a slightly spicy but yet typically (á la Bruichladdich) fruity whisky and is perfect with tomato dishes, especially slightly spicy ones.

 
  A duet of smoked trout and smoked salmon   Ardbeg 10 years old, 1993, D. Laing "OMC" 50%  
 

Some of the attendees, having experienced Ardbeg previously, expressed a slight reservation that this dram would probably totally overpower the taste of the fish. Absolutely not so! This was an excellent combination where the flavours were just right. At the end of the tasting, as a 'last' dram, one person who had expressed reservations decided to try the Ardbeg again, on its own. He readily admitted that although good, it had tasted much better with the fish. The flavours had enhanced one another much more than he believed possible.

 
  Spaghettini with fresh ginger and broccoli   Glenmorangie Cotes de Beaune  
 

Unbelievable! This combination was my own advance fear. I had relied on Michael Jackson's tasting notes saying that this bottling tasted of berries, prunes and offered an aftertaste of ginger. The Chef created this pasta dish with the perfect amount (not too much, not overpowering) of fresh ginger. It was truly delightful and for everyone present, a revellation of how food and whisky can combine perfectly. I am now in the process of begging the chef to include this dish on his normal menu. But he would need a supply of Glenmorangie CdB too!

 
  A feast of chocolate and coffee   Scapa 1993, G&M, 43%  
 

Yet more perfection! I have spoken many times of what a great dram this particular Scapa has turned out to be. It has a delightful (white) chocolate flavour which turns to vanilla with just 2-3 drops of water. For me, I preferred this dram / dessert combination with the water added, as the vanilla flavour better suited my palate, especially as the dessert itself was a combination of chocolate mousse, tiramisu and fruit. However, others stayed with the chocolate taste and no water. Nobody complained!

 
  Coffee   Glenfarclas 1987 "Quarter Casks"  
 

What a great whisky, especially just after an infusion of pure chocolate! I don't personally drink coffee, but the Glenfarclas was superb, an old favourite of mine which initially offers a nose and palate of wood (old oak), old books, leather and not so much sherry. After a while the sherry comes through and I know from experience that if you revisit this one after a week or so, the sherry is predominant. This Glenfarclas will by my own treat to myself as a Christmas whisky!

Overall Impression: I can honestly say that this experimental evening was a great success and everyone has been asking for more. I'm already looking forward to more of these events, but I also agree that the bar has been set at such a high standard it will be difficult to match, let alone surpass this first one, but rest assured I will be trying.

Finally,  I must offer my sincere thanks and gratitude to Camillo, the owner and head Chef at the restaurant we used. None of the served dishes are standard fayre on his menu and he personally worked very hard and created each one just for this evening.
Grazi Camillo

 

 

  Menu 2:

Building on early success

   
  Aperitif; Glen Garioch, 8y, OB      
 

I had previously used another Glen Garioch 8y in a normal tasting and found it a little too rich for an aperitif, but I am pleased to say that this one was perfect. Almost everyone went out of their way to comment on this whisky and its suitability to getting the evening off to a great start. In fact, a few bottles of this were purchased at the end of the evening and were given new homes by some rather zufrieden Gentlemen.

 
 

Lightly grilled radicchio with strips of turkey breast, served with essence of balsamico

 

Caol Ila, 1995-2006, 11y/o, 59.6% (Cadenhead)

 
 

Following the great success of the Glen Garioch, we then enjoyed the Raddicchio dish with turkey breast and Balsamico essence. The Cadenhead CS Caol Ila was a dream combination with the flavour of the balsamico essence!

 
 

Lightly steamed sea-fish served on a bed of fresh herbs

  Port Ellen, 1978-2004, 25y/o, 61.1% (DL. OMC)  
 

The fish turned out to be Shark and was full of flavour and matched the gentle herbs of the Port Ellen very nicely. The Fresh herbs were also in abundance, but a little fresh mint was included which was perhaps just a little too strong for this combination. Otherwise, another good match. (That CS ca. 61% PE was excellent and totally unusual for a Douglas Laing "OMC" to be at that %vol. But still a "great")

 
 

Flash-fried wafer thin beef in a coat of mustard, served with pasta

  Clynelish, 1990, 14y/o, 46% (MMcD)  
 

This was another excellent combination. I agree with the tasting notes which liken this whisky to a roast beef sandwich. We had a Carpacchio-style beef served with pasta in a light sweet-mustard sauce and the combination worked perfectly!

 
 

Raspberry Panna Cotta served with a cranberry sauce

  Ardmore, 1990-2006, 43% (G&M)  
 

The tasting notes said an after-taste of raspberries - I never personally found this and after initially tasting the whisky I wondered if I had made my first real mistake here. But the combination of the cranberry / raspberry sauce and fruits with the Ardmore was a pleasant surprise.
The secret turned out to be that one had to take a sip of the whisky immediately after some of the dessert. The effect was stunning!

 
  Coffee   Glenfiddich Havana Reserve, 21y/o, 40% (OB)  
 

Served with coffee and chocolates this was a very satisfactory end to an excellent evening. I supplied some chocolates, but it turned out that one of my guests was a Chef who brought some of his own hand-made chocolates along for us all to try. Wow! Many thanks kind sir, yours were far superior to my shop-bought offering. I am also delighted that not only was the chef impressed, but he now wishes to explore the possibilities of further similar evenings with him creating dishes to match my selections of whiskies.

Overall Impression: Another great success as Camillo excelled with yet more specially-created dishes. If there was a minor error it was only the inclusion of a small amount of fresh mint in the herbs with the fish. Otherwise perfect.

 

 

  Menu 3:

Now we're cooking on gas

   
 

 
  Aperitif; Bladnoch 1989, G&M Connoisseur's Choice      
 

A good aperitif dram, enjoyed by all, but the finish was rather short.

 
  Slightly spicy bruschetta combination.   Balvenie 15y Single Barrel  
 

Building on the success of the starter offered in the first event, we decided to try a combination of pizza pane and bruschetta topped with slightly spicy tomato, but this time with a Balvenie 15y single barrel. Once again this pairing was a great success and at the end of the evening the Balvenie was voted best whisky of the day!

 
 

Smoked Halibut and tiny shellfish served on a bed of salad

  Bunnahabhain 15y, 50% (DL. OMC)  
 

The Bunnahabhain 15y Old Malt Cask by D. Laing was yet another great DL bottling. Lots of sea salt character in the Bunny made a perfect partner for the smoked Halibut, tiny shellfish and bed of salad.

 
  Honey-coated duck breast served with sweet potato   The Glenlivet, 15y, French Oak (OB)  
 

The honey-coated roast duck breast served with sweet potato was a mouth-watering feast of wonderful flavours. Matched with the Glenlivet 15y French Oak, this became a dish to remember and is probably the singularly best whisky-food combination served at any of my gourmet evenings!

 
 

Mixed platter of chocolate mousse, chocolate cream, tiramisu & various fruit sauces

  Scapa 1993, 43% (G&M)  
 

A stunning dessert combination. Once again that white chocolate / vanilla style of the Scapa found a perfect partner.

 
  Coffee   Auchentoshan 3 Wood (OB)  
 

The Auchentoshan 3 Wood made a pleasant change for an after-dinner dram and was appreciated by all, especially when served alongside an espresso.

Overall Impression: That duck-Glenlivet combination was a partnership made in heaven! Another great success enjoyed by all.

 

 

  Menu 4:

Can it get any better?

   
  Aperitif; Bowmore Legend (OB)      
 

A young Bowmore, reputedly about 8 years old, with hints of iron, leaf, fern and an earthy sweetness

 
  Fennel salad with turkey strips and pink pepper   Glenrothes 1991 (OB)  
 

The flavours of spicy fruits, red and black pepper, along with an aftertase of grassy bracken was an excellent match for the fennel and turkey salad.

 
 

Smoked cheese served with an asparagus salad and pumpkin-seed oil

  Ardbeg Still Young, 8y (OB)  
 

Ardbeg and smoked cheese? A successful alternative to the usual seafood!

 
 

Lamb in a herb crust served with green beans & potato

  The Glenlivet, 15y, French Oak (OB)  
 

I thought the honey-coated roast duck with Glenlivet French Oak was sublime in the last event, so this was quite a risk, but totally unfounded as this dish was even better than the duck one if that's possible! If anything, it was the light mustard & herb crust which elevated this dish to greatness.

 
 

Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, served in a strawberry sauce with green peppercorns

  Benrinnes 1972-1996 (G&M)  
 

The superlatives just keep coming! This was a truly amazing dish and ranks alongside the main course of lamb as the best whisky-food combination we have experienced in these events. The strawberry sauce had a balsamico base and along with the peppercorns just wowed all the guests.

 
  Coffee   Macallan 10y, cask strength (OB)  
 

I used the Macallan 10 CS as the after-dinner dram and with a nose of sherry, slight orange peel and cereal, followed by the taste of orange, sherry & nuts, which turned a little more spicy and more nutty with just a drop of water, this made a perfect finale to the evening.

Overall Impression: Can it get any better? Wow, this was the most enlightening and amazing event thus far and for my last comment I must return to the Benrinnes - Strawberry combination; this is undoubtedly a combination I shall remember for a very long time, but as the Benrinnes was an old Connoisseur's Choice (white map label) I fear I may never be able to repeat this wondrous combination.

 

 

  Whisky & Cheese (A few experiences)

Full-flavoured Austrian mountain cheese is particularly good with Aberlour A'Bunadh

Blue Stilton works very well with almost any whisky!

Whereas Cheddar cheese does not. This was a result of offering some cheddar on various tastings and it was never accepted, but the Stilton was a roaring success.

 

 

  Whisky & Chocolate?

I have a whole feature on this superb topic here......

 

 

 

 

 

 

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