Whiskey and chocolate, hear me roar

Whisky and chocolate, not in the same mouthful I hear you cry, tis madness of the highest calibre. I mean yes, you’ll get a box of cherry liqueurs from your aged grandmother or try the rather horrid chocolate flavoured Baileys at Christmas, but that’s different. Surely chocolate and whisky don’t mix…well guess again fair reader, for they mix very well.

The ninny and I had the pleasure of a whisky and chocolate pairing at the Hilton Brighton Metropole located right on our wonderful, yet chilly seafront. It was a lovely gift said ninny purchased for our 3rd year anniversary (yes it’s been that long!)

The tasting itself was run by The Whisky Lounge and the delectable chocolates were provided by Iain Burnett aka The Highland Chocolatier. Both organisations have prestigious CVs with Burnett winning international awards and providing choccies for the Royal Family (the actual one, not the one Ricky Tomlinson starred in!), and The Whisky Lounge being a front runner in the whisky events world.

The Hilton is a grand location and upon entering the suite where our tasting was to take place we were worried it would be a slightly stuff affair. Fortunately we were joined by 4 other jolly couples and our tasting expert, Tim Forbes, was a delightful, knowledgeable and all round appealing fellow.

We were presented with 4 whiskies, 4 chocolates, a bottle of water, a pipette (never got used but I took it for funsies) and writing implements. From there, Tim explained some fun facts about the industry, answered any questions and gave us some background on the whiskies and chocolates in front of us. We all took our time, first nosing the drink and hearing a bit about the distilleries, as well as the rarity and prices. We then got into the tasting and sampled the following:

  1. Oban Little Bay 43%, raspberry and black pepper truffle
  2. Bunnahabhain Ceobanach 46.3%, lemongrass and lime truffle
  3. Notch 12yo Single Malt 48%, dark sea salted caramel heart
  4. Red Breast Mano Lamb 46%, orange and clove truffle

The prices for whisky varied from £59.99 to ₤65.00 and were utterly delightful in their own right. Some worked wonderfully alone, like the Oban and Bunnahabahain, while the others needed the chocolate to really get the depth and character of what you were supping.

I personally found the Red Breast, orange and clove truffle combo to be unlike anything I’ve ever tasted on this planet and the each sip and bite was like a swig of Christmas. The Notch was like pure ethanol but with that salty caramel it transformed into something rather special.

You got a real sense of how things like the peat (soil essentially) forms the backbone of each whisky, while the still shape and size creates the heaviness of the drink; that and how long it’s matured for. They all packed a considerable punch but had wonderful notes and tastes that varied from smoke to fruits.  You could certainly see why all the whisky won awards and the great merits of discovering that chocolate accompanies them.

Overall this has been one of my favourite experiences to write about. It was a fun, lively evening that was well presented and highly informative. That said, be prepared to leave with a slightly faltering step as you’ll receive very generous pours and a chance to re-taste some of your favourite tipples.

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