Whisky and music, the (almost) perfect match

Violin, viola, cello, piano, bass… In the hands of such talented interprets as Cantilena Chamber Music Orchestra, these instruments offered the audience true moments of exception. And a wonderful sensory platform to match music and whisky. A memorable afternoon tea…

Music and whisky gang together as these four Islay single malts brought out more aromatic sensations when matched to four pieces of music played live by Cantilena musicians. Here is the menu.


Ardbeg Blasda – 46%


Colour: Pale gold with linden hues.

Martine Nouet
Photo ©Peter Ramsden

Nose: Sweet and delicate. Fruity and floral. Hawthorn, gorse. Fresh pineapple. Lemon posset, hint of smoke (aerial). Ethereal scents. The aromas are combined into a harmonious bouquet. The smoke wraps it up in a very thin veil, hardly perceptible. Vanilla gently swirls up.

Palate: Smooth, light and sweet. Silky. A delicate flowery/earthy touch. With the same subtle smoky touch. More citrus in time.

Finish : Short and clean with a sweet touch. A dry after-taste.

An early spring dram. All in half-tones like a water colour. Whispering, floating, refreshing and  cheerful. A soothing outdoor dram to enjoy when you need the clock to freeze the moment.

Sweet and delicious indeed.

PAIRED WITH Bach piano concerto in F minor

Exactly what Blasda was waiting for. A delicate, cheerful tempo, the first movement uplifting the whisky while in the second movement, music and whisky gently walked hand in hand. A match steeped in fusion.

Isle of Jura – 16 Year Old – 40%


 Colour : Ripe gold with amber shades.

Martine Nouet
Photo ©Peter Ramsden

Nose : A deep breath from the undergrowth to start with. Humus, pine needles, damp wood. Opening on buttery and creamy fudge. Honeycomb with a touch of orange. Biscuity, appetizing. A complex aromatic display coming through rich and sweet layers. Apples and pears stewed in a cinnamon infused syrup. Warm and intriguing.

Palate: Smooth and velvety. The same rich earthy note as on the nose. Dried chestnuts, toffee, honey and cooked fruit.

Finish : Long, warm, framing the fruit with a slightly astringent oaky note. Dried hazelnut after-taste.

A rich autumn dram. It takes you outdoor at start for a walk in the woods on a wet day but soon brings you back home for comfort and warmth to savour your granny’s apple and toffee pie. Ah the good old times!


The good old times… exactly the images that Jura 16 Year Old brings to the mind. The aromas swirl on the nose like couples dancing an elegant waltz. The velvety texture of the whisky mirrors precious dresses worn by the Vienna aristocracy. The whisky gets more and more complex as the rhythm speeds. What a pleasant sensation!

 Bowmore 18 Year Old – 43%


Colour : Amber (with a bright red copper shine).

Nose : Rich deep, complex. Dark fruit, brambles, sultanas, prunes. All dipped in dark chocolate. Old furniture with a briny hint. Like being in an old library with an open window facing the sea. Distant smoke. An enticing intensity.

Palate : Soft and gently flowing. Satin-like texture. Fruit and parma violet mingle lusciously and melt into a wave of liquorice. Smoky chocolate. And soft spices take it on the dry side, leaving a dusty sensation on the tongue.

Finish: Dry spicy and long.

A winter dram with a festive aura. That rich dark chocolate and fruit profile invites you to enjoy a warm log fire on a stormy evening. A comforting and intimate indoor dram to share with loved ones or friends.


There is something of Mozart’s happy-go-lucky attitude in Telemann’s music. A-priori a bit too light for Bowmore 18 Year Old deep and rich nose. But once you taste it, the floral flavours totally agree with the perky musical phrasing. Which offers depth and complexity as well.

Kilchoman – Machir Bay – 46%


Colour : Pale glittering gold.

Nose : Sweet, smoky grassiness. Refreshing and lively. Garden mint, lemon balm and angelica combine with vanilla syrup in a tantalizing invite to relax. The smoke is intense, reminding of cold ashes and chimney soot. Freshly squeezed lemon and tangerine bring in a reviving freshness without masking the delicate malty sweetness.

Palate: Sweet and silky (raw silk). The citrus flavours create an appetizing balance between sweetness and tartness. Drying on smoke and spices.

Finish : Smoky even sooty but keeping a sweet malty character.

A perky summer dram. Young, vibrant, refreshing, conversational. To be enjoyed outdoor, on a sandy beach… ah, Machir Bay and its large open horizon! Forget about sunbathing, run, play, jump in the waves!


Lively, light and limpid music which featured the refreshing citrussy profile of Kilchoman. At times though, the waltz slowed down and Kilchoman Machir Bay got impatient !

Our thanks to the distilleries and to Roland Worthington –Eyre at Islay Hotel (Port Ellen).

Please note: Next year Cantilena Festival will be held from 6th to 12 th July 2014