It’s no secret that gin is my first love, but in the spirit world, whisky is my second.
I cut my, er, drinking teeth on the gin and tonic, so by comparison, whisky is a relatively new love affair, when I was finally introduced to ‘proper’ whiskies rather than the cheap scotch blends offered in the supermarket.
And what an eye opener it’s been.
I’m always happy to try new whiskies, the range offered never fails to surprise me. From sherry monsters with their rich chocolate and raisin flavours, to the round flavours of a rum cask and the heated spice of a Bourbon. Throw in a little skilled single malt blending and it opens even further, distinct flavours coming from different areas, everything affects the flavour, from the water to the malting method, to the cask.
And just like a wine, or a beer, you can match your whiskies to flavours too. A good Japanese whisky goes well with sushi, some Bourbons work well with curry, some Irish whiskies with cheese.
Whilst I can’t claim to produce Michelin starred food, I can try my hand at pairing – and Old Poulteney decided to help me along a little with samples of their 12 year old whisky and a little white chocolate – and a tasting wheel.
The whisky on it’s own is a good easy going whisky with a sweet salty finish. It’s matured in ex-Bourbon casks, which gives it a good spiced edge, with hints of cinnamon and citrus and and it’s Scottish coastal heritage comes through with a distinct salinity in the finish. It’s not quite soft and round enough to say salted caramel, but there’s a similarity in the flavour.
Aidan Byrne paired it with fish – cured snapper with orange blossom water, dried rose and salmon caviar – soft lighter fish flavours would work well with the salty notes and not clash with the sweet. In this case, however we were playing more with sweet flavours and creamy white chocolate.
This worked well, the spice played with the creamy notes, the combination was almost like salted butter, with the spice stopping it from becoming overly sweet.
There was also, to showcase another pairing, Old Poulteney fudge. This became somewhat addictive. So much so that I had to ask Mr GFB to take it off me to stop me eating it. He unfortunately encountered a similar issue and between us we finished the tin.
Not my proudest moment.
Another pairing recommended by Old Poulteney is oysters, which I will save for another evening – by the time I finished my sample glass and the fudge, I was a little too full of sugar to indulge in anything else and needed a nap on the sofa.