Traditionally on New Years Eve we do a Whisky Chocolate Pairing. It has been a tradition on our house for the last couple of years. Choosing the whiskies for our New Years Eve 2014 was quite difficult, as we tasted some wonderful whiskies this year. We chose the whisky chocolate pairing below after much deliberation and the choice is based on our shared and personal favourites.
Chocolate is derived from cocoa beans, cocoa butter, plant oils and sugar. The amount of cocoa put into a chocolate produces the different chocolate flavours. Cocoa beans grown in different parts of the world have slightly different flavours. Chocolatiers have further infused interesting flavours into chocolate. A good example is the Mexican ancho and chipotle chilies and Ceylon cinnamon. You actually get a flavour wheel of chocolate – much like whisky! After selecting the whiskies, Jeannette matches each one’s tasting notes to a complimentary chocolate. This invariably involves a visit to one of our favourite chocolatiers, Lindt. So what were our Whisky Chocolate Pairing for this year?
The Whisky Chocolate Pairing for 2013
The Balvenie Caribbean Cask & Lind Blueberry Intense
The first pairing was The Balvenie Caribbean Cask with Lindt Excellence Blueberry Intense. The Caribbean Cask matured in oak for 14 years and then finished in casks that previously held Caribbean rum. It’s a beautiful whisky with a nose of fruitcake, fruit, toffee and honey. The whisky is rich and sweet, with caramel and honey coming through. The Blueberry Intense is a dark chocolate, with the slight tartness of blueberries and almond slivers adding a slightly nutty flavour. The tartness of the blueberries cuts through the sweetness of the whisky. The dark chocolate compliments the toffee flavours of the whisky superbly. A great whisky chocolate pairing.
Dalwhinnie 1990 Distillers Edition & Dark chocolate with vanilla pieces
The next pairing was the Dalwhinnie 1990 Distillers Edition and Lindt hand-made dark chocolate and vanilla pieces. We first tasted the Dalwhinnie in 2012, not long after we started to rate our whiskies. It was the first whisky that we rated “Divine” and one of Jeannette’s top whiskies. This whisky was aged for 15 years in oak and then finished for another 3 years in Oloroso ex-sherry casks. Quite a sweet whisky, with fruitcake and sherry notes and hints of spice. The vanilla balanced the fruit and spice nicely. The dark chocolate counterbalanced the sweetness. It made for a superb whisky chocolate pairing combination.
Ardbeg Uigeadail & Lindor Dark 60%
Next up was one of John’s favourites, the Ardbeg Uigeadail. An Islay whiskies, Ardbeg is heavily peated. The Uigeadail is no exception. With lashings of peat and smoke, and notes of seaweed, iodine and barle. This is a BIG Islay whisky. High percentage cocoa dark chocolate always goes well with Islay. Jeannette paired this whisky with the Lindt Lindor Dark 60%. The notes of ground espresso beans, honey and peat in the whisky creates a wonderful background for the dark smooth chocolate. This whisky chocolate pairing is a good combination but a darker Lindt Excellence 85% chocolate would have worked just as well.
Glenlivet Alpha & Clemengold Mardarin discs
Next up was the first of the two whiskies we rated “Devine” in 2013. The runner-up of our Whisky of the Year 2013 was The Glenlivet Alpha. Only 3 500 bottles of this exceptional whisky in its distinctive black bottle was released. The tasting notes for this whisky highlighted tangerine, satsuma and citrus fruits. Its a wonderfully complex whisky with vanilla and caramel notes as well. Jeannette paired the Glenlivet Alpha with Woolworths Clemengold Mandarin discs enrobed in dark chocolate. The joint citrus in this whisky chocolate pairing actually became overwhelming and a toasted coconut and dark chocolate worked a lot better.
Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon & Cherries coated in Dark Chocolate
And our last whisky for the year, close to 12:00, was our Whisky of the Year 2013. The Taiwanese Kavalan Solist Cask strength ex-Bourbon Cask is bottled at 57.1%. The spring water from the Shue-Shan Mountains and the mountainous clean air is credited for helping create this special whisky. We loved the striking toffee and abundance of fruit and cherry notes. It’s velvet smooth. We paired the Kavalan Solist Cask strength ex-Bourbon Cask with the Woolworths Dark Chocolate enrobed cherries. The cherry notes of this magnificent whisky was enhanced by the chocolate. The cocoa offset the sweetness bring the fruitiness to the fore. A fantastic end to the evening.
2013 was a special year for us. We set ourselves a goal of collecting at least 100 single malt whiskies by the end of the year and we met that goal. I started writing this blog and managed to taste and blog about some magnificent whiskies. Also, I made some great whisky friends and spend many a happy hour chatting about whisky.
We discovered the pleasure in matching whisky and food. We traveled and relished acquiring single malt whiskies from interesting countries around the world. So at the start of the new year and new adventures, we wish you all the best for 2014 and many happy drams.