The 2022 edition of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival early May was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with many friends of the whisky industry. And to host original dinners and tastings like the “Tipsy tea”.

Tipsy tea, a step further than Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria was known for adding whisky to her tea. Royal Lochnagar distillery was next door to Balmoral Castle in the Highlands. With Ann Miller, aka The Dram Queen, we decided to go a step further and forget the tea to stick to whisky ! Our afternoon tea consisted of four superb Speyside single malts, each of them being paired with a savoury and a sweet nibble. Which meant preparing up to 200 amuse-bouche to treat 24 guests ! Quite a lot of work but I enjoyed it immensely.


Benromach Organic – 46% – non age statement
Colour: Ripe gold
Nose: a full whiff of vanilla. A hint of banana (banoffee pie). Refreshing. Aniseed. Stewed pears and apples. Malty and fruity.
On the hand, brioche
Palate: Satin like, then a good grip, spicy (ginger)
Finish: Almondy aftertaste. spices die down slowly.
A very cheerful and refreshing whisky which was matured in virgin casks filled in 2012. This amazing young whisky (less than 10 year old) reveals a pastry-like and fruity profile.

The pairing
The good spicy grip on the palate authorized a full-flavoured bite.

I chose raw salmon, lightly marinated in olive oil and lemon juice and dipped in a crust made of crushed oatcakes, a pinch of chilly, pepper and sesame seeds. The salmon dice were picked on a wooden skewer with a slice of cucumber for the crunchy texture.

That intense note of banana and coconut was reflected in a mini-smoothie (bananas and coconut milk blended together and topped with a dash of salted caramel sauce and toasted almonds). A complete fusional match.

Speyside blended malt Scotch whisky – 44,2% – BBR Classic Speyside – non age statement

Colour: pale gold
Nose: Intense, malty and fruity. Fresh grapes, hint of brioche, ripe apples. Touch of moss. With water, vanilla swirls in. Also a floral touch. Very sweet.
Palate: Crisp and dry, sherbety. A hint of blancmange, herbal. Slightly astringent on the finish.
A classic illustration of the fruity and light Speyside single malts. The pale gold colour hints at a refill bourbon cask. A straight forward and easy-going single malt. Definitely moreish.

The pairing
The idea was to contrast with the whisky sweetness by offering a spicy food combination. Both savoury and sweet nibbles kicked up the whisky, giving extra-length to the finish.

An apricot and almond lamb parcel.
The idea was to prepare a nibble inspired by moroccan tajine. Minced lamb (coming from the farm next door, hence totally organic) was cooked with spices (ras el hanout, chili, cinnamon, cumin) and fresh coriander and wrapped in filo paste then cooked in the oven.

Orange and ginger fruit salad
An easy dessert with orange segments and crystallised ginger. Without forgetting the pinch of ground pepper. Very refreshing and juicy.

The Balvenie 12 double wood – 40%

Color: Ripe gold.
Nose: Fruity and pastry-like. Orange biscuit, vanilla, honey. Wax. Embodies the Speyside character. Apple tart. Nuts.
On the hand: vanilla waffle.
Palate: Fruity, sweet pastry. shortbread, vanilla, raisins. Cinnamon.
Finish: Long, complex, licorice.
The double maturation has given depth to the whisky with a distinctive but not overwhelming sherry influence which lets the distillery honeyed character show through. An elegant and well-balanced Speysider.

The pairing
The idea was to emphasize the fruity and pastry-like profile of the whisky. A “gourmande” combination.

Brochette with comté and apple
Quite simple. Dice of comté (a matured fruity French cheese from the Jura region) presented on a wooden stick with a dice of apple previously washed with honey and lemon juice.

A mini crème brûlée
A classic among French desserts. The vanilla and crunchy caramel found a perfect match with the sweet character of The Balvenie.

Glenfarclas 15 year old – 46%

Color: bright gold with amber hues.
Nose: Fruity and malty. Influenced by sherry but not overwhelmed by it. Dried fruit, earthy touch, whiff of peat. Butterscotch.
On the hand: Gingerbread cake
Palate: Crisp, dry, dried fruit, crème caramel, marmalade.
Finish: Dry, oaky elegance. Perfect balance. Complex, tastes older.
In my opinion, the most balanced of the Glenfarclas range. The sherry influence is present but not overwhelming. A classy (and classic) rich Speysider.

The pairing
This rich complex single malt needed a full-flavoured food to match with. Chocolate was the natural choice for the sweet and duck (a flavoursome meat) was perfect for the savoury nibble.

A gingerbread and duck canapé
Unfortunately, I could not find duck breast (dried magret) – thank you Brexit !- which I replaced by parma ham. The home made gingerbread (I chose my spices and reduced the sugar as much as I could) topped with a piece of orange totally mingled with the whisky notes.

Brownie and coffee crème anglaise
I sometimes serve chocolate cakes with an orange sauce to pair with sherried whiskies. Here I chose a custard (crème anglaise). The smooth creamy texture and strong coffee taste enhanced the chocolate notes of the whisky and contrasted beautifully with the dryness of the finish.

The amazing SSWF opening dinner in Glenfiddich welcomed 450 guests. An incredible record.
The photographer managed to gather all the Keepers and Masters of the Quaich present at the event on a panoramic shot. Another stunning record !