Christmas in South Africa is pretty special. Families typically enjoy the day in the company of loved ones over a special lunch. We had both our families over and prepared a menu of meat smoked in our Big Green Egg barbecue, preceded by Christmas cake and closed out with Christmas pudding. We wanted to combine it with some whisky. Jeannette has recently spent time learning about whisky food pairing and we decided to try this approach for Christmas lunch. She matches the tasting notes of the whisky we have enjoyed with the primary flavors of the food. Based on our menu she chose 3 whiskies; a Macallan 10 yo, a Bowmore Enigma 12 yo and an Old Pulteney 21 yo.
Christmas Day Lunch paired with whisky
The Macallan 10 yo & Cherry Genoa cake
Christmas lunch typically starts with the serving of Christmas pies with Sherry. This year we decided to serve a Cherry Genoa cake instead of mince pies. We purchased the Cherry Genoa cake at Woolworths. It was made with glazed cherries (38%), raisins, pecan nuts and almonds. Jeannette decided to pair it with The Macallan 10 yo whisky. She reasoned the spicy fruity notes of the Macallan with its hints of cherries, vanilla and oak would be a nice pairing for this sweet starter. The Macallan whisky paired splendidly and offset the sweetness of the Cherry Genoa whilst enhancing its fruitiness. We had not paired a fruit cake with a whisky before but this was a winner.
Bowmore Enigma & Hoisin smoked Duck
For the main course we had Duck and Gammon as our meats. The duck was prepared in a Hoisin marinade and smoked over hickory chips. Jeannette chose a whisky with some peat influences to match the smoke and soy based marinade of the Duck. The Bowmore Enigma 12 yo whisky with its light peaty finish held the promise of the right amount of spice, pepper and smoke to hold its own with the smoked meat. The Bowmore worked brilliantly with the Duck complimenting the soy and sesame Hoisin flavors excellently. The paring was less successful with the Gammon. The Gammon, with its notes of bacon, did not pick up much of the Bowmore notes.
Old Pulteny & Malva Pudding
For dessert this year we decided to serve a Malva Christmas pudding, purchased at Woolworths, with vanilla custard. The Malva Christmas pudding is made with vine fruits, butter and apricot pieces and infused with a cream liqueur Malva sauce. Traditional Malva pudding is one of Johns favorite desserts so we were keen to try this. We were expecting the spicy and fruity notes of the Old Pulteney 21 yo whisky to bring out the sweetness of the Malva pudding, but this pairing did not work for us. We think that the sweetness of Malva pudding and vanilla custard overwhelmed the Old Pulteney. A Glenmorangie Lasanta might have been a better choice.
Final Results of our Christmas Day Whisky Food pairing
Overall our pairing for Christmas was a bit of a mixed bag. This was the first year we have paired whisky with Christmas lunch and as a concept it was a resounding success. Two pairings really worked. The Macallan 10 yo and Cherry Genoa cake was quite stunning. The pairing of the Bowmore Enigma 12 yo with the Hoisin smoked Duck was similarly astounding. The Bowmore was right at home. We would not readily recommend paring it with the Gammon. For some reason this pairing left us deflated. Finally the Old Pulteney 21 yo and Malva Christmas pudding did not work. We think the dessert was simply too sweet for this whisky food pairing.
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