This year I had a different kind of Easter: I went for a whisky experience and strolled by the Monkey Shoulder Chocolate Trail in Soho, an event at which I had the chance to taste great whisky-based cocktails paired with yummy chocolate. The link to Easter was the Egg hunt, which is how we claimed our cocktails.
During the event I discovered that the sweet, vanilla and brown sugar taste of a good whiskey – like Monkey Shoulder - matches heavenly with cardamom truffle (caramel and lemon chocolate), ginger and Cayenne pepper truffle, Masala chai truffle (spicy and bitter).
After the event I found myself wanting to learn more about whisky and food, so I launched myself into a bit of research.
First of all, it has to be said that on a general level sushi, Indian and BBQ cuisine are all good for mixing with whisky. Cheeses, smoked food, oysters, pickled foods, oats, bacon, jellies and, of course, chocolate are all outstanding when enjoyed with whisky.
One caution: be very careful in pairing hot and spicy foods with whisky. Spicy is okay, but anything too hot ruins the palate and finishes most drinks, including whisky.
The key is to understand what the basic whisky flavour profile is. A smoky, spicy tasting whisky pairs best with strong and salty. These types of whiskies work very well with smoked fish, steak or a salty besciamella sauce, for example.
If choosing a whisky with a more sweet taste, softer blends are much better. Cheese such as Brie or Camembert are the perfect counterpart, and sweet potatoes, water crackers, crème brulee or pastry are also excellent.
When thinking of specific whisky, I have learnt that it is excellent to combine the smoky and earthly characteristics of a Talisker 10-year old with baked salmon, and the pungent, muddy flavours of a Caol Ila 12-year old to chorizo and tuna.
Jack Daniels is brilliant when used to marinate pork loin and when making great sandwiches.
Many recipes even have whisky among their ingredients: pies, chocolate based desserts, pot roast gravy, potato salads, cheesecake.
To experience first hand the joy of whisky and food in London check out:
- Tsuru Sushi which recently did a whisky tasting with Japanese whiskies
- Pitt Cue Co., a BBQ and bourbon joint opened in January on Newburgh Street in Soho
- Boisdale of Canary Wharf for one of the biggest whisky collections and prime steaks
- Salt Whisky Bar for whisky and Indian foods
To discover more of London’s best whisky bars, click here.
Image courtesy of Flickr user [puamelia].