Whisky and Chocolate: why has it taken me so long?

Posted by: Nick. Photos courtesy of Craig Johnstone

Whisky. Chocolate. Two undoubtedly magnificent creations. Why, then, has it taken me so long to realise that combining the two is the best idea hit upon since a particular Bill Lark fishing trip?

Enter Ian Reed, organiser of tenuous themes for Whisky Business, who decided the night’s proximity to Easter was as good an excuse as any to bring along chocolate bunnies to the next gathering.

While the selection of whiskies was sure to be excitingly varied, the selection of chocolate turned out to be less so, although this was through no fault of mine or Craig’s, who both brought some excellent blocks (disclaimer: mine was slightly more excellent). Ian gathered everyone together. It was time to begin.

Whisky n Chocolate dram 1

Whisky number one, it transpired was the Scapa 16 Year Old, a lovely and easy drinking Orcadian drop. However tonight I couldn’t help but notice an intriguingly pleasant bitterness about it, so selected an equally bitter 70% dark chocolate to accompany it. My results were as follows:

Bitter + bitter = not bitter!

Strangely enough, together the two bitter flavours cancelled each other out and left smooth and sweet strawberry and melon notes I hadn’t noticed before. A win for the paring!

Whisky n Chocolate dram 2

Whisky number two was immediately picked by Craig as a rum barrel finish, which was either a lucky guess or proof that he knows his stuff. The whisky was a 15 Year Old BenRiach, which had indeed been finished in rum barrels. I selected a Lindt Salted Caramel to accompany it.

Rum barrel + salted caramel = tropical punch!

Apparently the secret to unlocking the fruit flavours in the rum finish was a block of salted caramel chocolate! Two out of two for the chocolate paring!

Whisky n Chocolate dram 3

Whisky number three had been matured in sherry casks, this much I could tell. I quickly ruled out Glenfarclas and took a stab at another famously sherried whisky: Glendronach. Imagine my pleasure (read: smugness) when it turned out to be the Glendronach 18 Year Old (Big Sam) Allardice. One sip gave away the Olorosso maturation. It was dry. As in really dry. And I loved it. I went for the strong stuff. 90% dark chocolate. No messing around here.

Dry whisky + dry chocolate = the Sahara desert.

I suspected that one ingredient may make the other sweeter in comparison. I was wrong. This combination could not even be crossed upon a camel. And I loved it. Three out of three.

Whisky n Chocolate dram 4

After a short break filled with science jokes from Bish, and vaguely Easter-themed jokes from Rosie, we moved onto whisky number four: the clue from Ian being that its name was Gaelic for ‘natural’. Because I speak fluent Gaelic (or because I’ve read it on the internet) I immediately realised we were trying the cask strength Glenlivet: the Nadurra. I needed a feisty chocolate to compete with this, so selected my own contribution: a fancy and fully-flavoured Anvers salted caramel chocolate.

Strong whisky + strong chocolate = Pirates of the Caribbean!

Ok, yes, by this stage of the night my pairing notes were starting to get, shall we say, ‘creative’, but hear me out. I mean this in a way that these two flavours did not go together. At all. In fact they clashed. In fact, they clashed entertainingly, one might even say ‘swashbucklingly’ (if one could pronounce such a word at this end of the evening). Hence: Pirates of the Caribbean.

Whisky n Chocolate dram 5

Whisky number five, the final dram of the evening, was wonderful. There was subtle peat on the nose, mild sweet spices on the palate, and a warm lingering finish. It had to be Laphroaig, and as it turned out, it was the 18 Year Old. It was a wonderful dram and I paired it with the 70% dark chocolate. At this point of the night, the equation was simple:

Whisky + Chocolate = awesome.

I don’t think I really need to explain this one.

Five out of five.

 

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13 comments

    1. Only at organised events. My Scottish friends insist that whisky goes with absolutely anything and it is hard to disagree! But I think I shall have to do some more research into the matter. All in the name of science, you realise!
      Keep on waffling,
      Nick

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Naturally! 😉 There is supposed to be food pairing at the Glenmorangie event I’m attending in Delhi tomorrow evening. It certainly seems to be a growing trend. :0

        Most of all looking fwd to interviewing Bill Lumsden tom aft. Any burning questions you’d like asked??

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      2. Wow, Dr Bill Lumsden!?! That’s so awesome! Wow, there are many questions I’d love to ask. Well… if there does happen to be a lull in conversation, feel free to ask if he has tried/has an opinion about Tasmanian whisky! (predictable, I know!) But seriously, don’t stress too much about it!
        Thanks for considering me though!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Super cool. eh? Actually I do have a question (will see what makes sense in my 45 mins with him) about his thoughts on the rise of Tasmanian whiskies and closer to home India with Amrut and Paul John… 🙂

        Will update once the article is published and likely keep a few gems for “Whisky Lady” too. 🙂 You will be amused at the mag – “Man’s World”… yes “Whisky Lady” will be invading soon with a monthly whisky column!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Was great fun! The nice thing about being merely an avidly interested amateur is I know I know nothing… so a lot of it was encouraging him to share stories and insights… clearly his métier! 🙂

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  1. Brilliant set of whiskies mate! I have yet to try the Scapa (it remains sadly elusive to me due to it being rather difficult to acquire for a decent price in Singapore) and only recently found out that they made a cask strength version of the Nadurra. I’m a big fan of the Allardice (as a football fan, defs love the Big Sam reference!) and the Laphroaig 18 is a winner any day of the week for me.

    Love the whisky+chocolate pairings and defs keen to try it out for myself when I get down to hosting a whisky tasting of my own =D

    Slainte!

    Brendan

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    1. Thanks man, I’m glad you appreciated the article. Scapa is one you’ll have to try – a really lovely little dram.
      As for Big Sam, Ted is a Blackburn supporter and yearns for the days where Sam would keep them safely in the premier league.
      I look forward to hearing about your own whisky+chocolate experiments in the future!
      Keep on waffling,
      Nick

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  2. Wow, palm-smacking myself after this article–you’re right, so obvious! I love both yet have never paired them. I’m surprised the peaty stuff worked well with chocolate, I’ll have to try some 85% with Laphroaig (though only the humble 10 in my house). However, this could lead to hedonistic overindulgence…there is much artisanal chocolate to be had in Portland.

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  3. Brilliant write up. Love the pairing of whisky and chocolate

    Had one a couple of years ago that WhiskyBrother set up. The only difference was that Marc together with chocolatier Lara Sklaar of Fine & Raw Chocolate worked to select what chocolate to pair with what chocolate. Which I am sure was an enjoyable experience. Further to that Marc also provided her with two whiskies to incorporate into two chocolate made specifically for his store (which I think is now sold out)

    Like

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