The art of pair­ing food with whisky

CityPress - - News - HOPEWELL RADEBE hopewell.radebe@city­press.co.za

I con­sid­ered the idea of pair­ing whiskey with food un­usual un­til Stef Kondylis, brand man­ager at Belvedere and Glen­morangie, in­vited me to a whisky­tast­ing jaunt where the pair­ing of whiskies with com­ple­men­tary food was dis­cussed.

Bear in mind that I only re­cently learnt whiskey (and its brother, Scotch whisky) is to be en­joyed by the sip, not thrown care­lessly down the throat. I was in­ter­ested to know why the whisky in­dus­try has been keen to pro­mote this civil­i­sa­tion.

With their com­plex tastes, peo­ple fear choos­ing food that might over­whelm or em­bit­ter the whiskeys or that will be cum­ber­some to pre­pare.

We started with the 10-year-old Glen­morangie orig­i­nal, which is dis­tilled twice in the tallest stills in Scot­land. Kondylis rec­om­mended that it be downed with duck con­fit with or­ange glaze, seared salmon or dishes with hints of or­ange and vanilla.

Then it was the 12year-old Glen­morangie Las­anta that is chill­fil­tered – a method in whiskey mak­ing for re­mov­ing residue – and ex­tra ma­tured in oloroso and sherry casks from Spain. Las­anta, which means warmth and pas­sion in Gaelic, had an aroma of warm spices mixed with smooth choco­late-cov­ered raisins, hon­ey­comb and caramel toffee. It was paired with a bil­tong tart­let. Kondylis said it could also be con­sumed with cured meats, olives and food that re­sem­bled Span­ish dishes.

When the Glen­morangie Quinta Ruban hit the ta­ble, dis­cus­sions were a lot more rowdy. But this non-chill­fil­tered whisky for ex­tra tex­ture and mouth feel was paired with a scrump­tious mint-and-rose­mary-braised Ka­roo lamb shank on gar­lic dauphi­noise pota­toes. Vege­tar­i­ans sipped it with an egg­plant and mint curry. Kondylis said it could be taken with dark choco­late­based desserts. Guests mar­velled at the com­bi­na­tion of tastes of the non-chill-fil­tered Glen­morangie Nec­tar D’Or (mean­ing gold) and the vanilla panna cotta – an Ital­ian del­i­cacy em­braced with a bis­cuit nes­tled on a light pis­ta­chio sponge sur­rounded by rasp­ber­ries and white choco­late. Kondylis said it could be served with Asian food or lemon­in­fused choco­late desserts, since the whisky is ex­tra ma­tured in rare Sauternes wine bar­riques (bar­rels) from France.

We then sam­pled the Glen­morangie 18-year-old with cof­fee and dark choco­late mac­a­roons that were gar­nished with co­coa pow­der and dark choco­late cigars.

Ap­par­ently, this sin­gle malt Scotch whisky has spent 15 years ma­tur­ing in Amer­i­can white oak casks; then, 30% was trans­ferred into Span­ish oloroso casks to spend a fur­ther three years ma­tur­ing.

“Then they are blended back to­gether to cre­ate a whisky with a rich bou­quet and full, rounded flavour,” said Kondylis.

The night­cap was the non-chill-fil­tered Glen­morangie Signet, which won the 2016 Whisky of the Year award at the In­ter­na­tional Whisky Com­pe­ti­tion. Kondylis de­scribed it as a unique blend of whiskies dis­tilled over 30 years ago, when malt­ing still oc­curred on site and the spirit was ma­tured in a se­lec­tion of the world’s finest casks.

While a few Scot­tish cook­books con­tain ref­er­ence to the use of whisky in cook­ing, pair­ing food with whisky proved to be an ap­petis­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

FU­SION The ta­ble is set for pair­ing scrump­tious food with lux­ury whiskey

WEE DRAM The Glen­morangie sin­gle malt col­lec­tion

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