Back when I was first getting more into whisky, I came across the Auchentoshan Presents series of events. These are curated events that tend to “present” something – whether an artist, band, or a mixologist, for instance. I loved the fact they were interesting and trendy, and that the crowd present were all drinking whisky but were also under 40, showing that whisky could a) be cool and b) be presented in a non-tartan filled environment.
Since then, the brand has continued to impress and I count it along with Monkey Shoulder as a favourite for continuing to show to a much more diverse crowd that whisky is well…wicked.
The latest in the series of intriguing events put on by the team was the Auchentoshan Taste Experiments. Curated by coffee experts DunneFrankowski, who were joined by the Rebel Dining Society and Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka Mr Lyan), the events explored the background of taste using various experimentations with cocktails, food and neat whisky.
Unfortunately, I was a bit of a late arrival at this event, which means I missed both the part of the evening where participants smelled small pots of flavour chemicals and tested out their sensitivity to bitterness, and much of what the imitable Rachel Barrie – master blender for Morrison Bowmore – had to say about taste and aroma (though I did note it involved a lot of molecular compound explanations on a large flipchart).
However, I did manage to catch the full session of Mr Lyan and the Rebel Dining Society’s cocktail and food pairings. And these were seriously stand-out. My friend – Ms Lucy – who joined in on the evening’s fun was thoroughly blown away as well.
We started with a duck confit in orange infused olive oil, with girolloes, quail egg and an Auchentoshan Valinch spritz (sprayed over our plates as they arrived). This was paired with the Auchentoshan Valinch Sour, made from Valinch, charred grapefruit juice and demerara sugar syrup. It was sharp and refreshing, which was the perfect pairing for the rich meaty duck.
Next came a dish of cured mackerel, caviar and ham, served in a sealed jar with Auchentoshan Three Wood infused smoke – the making of which caused the entire room to smell like a campsite. Paired with an Auchentoshan Three Wood Old Fashioned, it was the winning combination of the night for me.
This was followed by Auchentoshan cream profiteroles and an Auchentoshan Classic hi-ball, which – with the addition of creme de poires – made it a delicious finale.
What all the dishes were able to show was that you can pair whisky cocktails and food quite seamlessly without losing the pure pleasure that can be derived from either on its own. Additionally, each table was also given small bottles labelled bitter, sweet and sour, so each cocktail could be altered to everyone’s individual taste, something I appreciated thoroughly.
While I did miss out on the earlier aspects – and geekily scientific parts – you won’t necessarily have to. The London Taste Experiments sold out in a heartbeat but the team is bringing the same event to Glasgow on the 8 October, so be sure to look out for further news from my Twitter account or on the Auchentoshan Facebook page to find out when you can grab tickets. It’ll be an evening you won’t forget anytime soon.