I gave a few pairing whisky with food gigs at Wild about Whisky, the famous Dullstroom whisky bar. The star was the rainbow trout which abounds in the Scotland-looking lakes around Dullstroom. Delicately smoked, tasty, a winner with single malt.
I presented two nibbles (one savoury, one sweet) with each whisky. This was a first for the malt lovers attending that session. I could feel that some were a bit suspicious at the beginning, not sure if they would appreciate sampling a whisky while eating. But they all loved the experience and promised they would try it at home.
BALBLAIR 2000 – 46%
This Highland Single Malt matures most of its production in ex-bourbon casks. In my view, the perfect way to enhance the distillery character of that still unknown distillery. Creamy, vanilla infused notes of citrus fruit, refreshing touches of mint and aniseed, the aromatic profile calls for simple, fresh and light food. All what we need in Spring. The malty core of the whisky just married with the smoked fish. As for the lemon curd, it suited the whisky in texture and taste. The buttery shortbread gave more weight to the whisky.
Smoked trout roll: a thin slice of smoked trout stuffed with cream cheese and chives
Lemon curd on a shortbread
GLENDRONACH 15 YEAR OLD – REVIVAL- 46%
My favorite Glendronach in the range. I find it so well balanced, not overwhelmed in sherry notes (maybe a good part of second fill sherry casks in the vatting?) and very harmonious. Dried fruit, chocolate, soft spices, a great combination for that slow cooked hock enhanced by a mango and chocolate chutney. Easy choice but always successful, a piece of dark chocolate as the sweet nibble.
Pork & choc chutney
Classic Dark Chocolate
THE ARRAN AMARONE FINISH – 50%
I had never tasted that special release of Arran. it was released on 2010. A non aged Arran (but from the information on the website, it has matured for 8 years in traditional casks and has been finished for less than a year in those Italian red wine casks). The finish has given the whisky a vibrant pink/orange colour. Red fruit (redcurrant), marzipan cherry enhance the fruity and malty profile of regular Arran. I even found roiboos! A stunning dram. The butternut squash purée finds an echo in the whisky and the almond and cherry nougat just fits. This was the Italian touch. I found it in a lovely gourmet food shop in the small village of Dullstroom.
Peppered smoke cooked trout on butternut squash purée
Almond and cherry nougat
SMOKEHEAD – 46%
The question was: which single malt hides behind the name? At one time, it was public knowledge that it was an Ardbeg. But is it still the case? The nose seemed more medicinal than in earlier versions. A Laphroaig maybe? But the palate had this sweet malty core behind the smoke screen which made me opt for Ardbeg. Anyway definitely a smokehead! Without hesitation, I chose blue cheese for the savoury nibbles (the smoke fusions with the tanginess of the blue cheese) and citrus fruit salad for the sweet (a mix of oranges, candied kumquat and lemon/lime, with a touch of black pepper). Accord parfait!
Blue cheese & nuts
Citrus fruit salad