Sunday, 4 September 2016

Old Pulteney Whisky

Whisky and food matching

These days, consumer's knowledge in whisky is not what it is used to be, people generally have a much greater understanding and seek finer quality whiskies, comparing to 10-15 years ago. But if you are new to whisky, you might find it challenging due to the taste and the "Granddad" images that whisky has. Old Pulteney Whisky however has came up with a great idea that was both fun and engaging, which I am sure would get people excited even if they are not whisky drinkers. They have teamed up with chef Aiden Byrne at his restaurant, Manchester House, and created a special whisky and food pairing event. Aiden had created a selection of bespoke canapes to match 3 of Old Pulteney's offering. Aiden is well renowned for his creative modern fine dining and I was really interested to see what he had in store for the event.

Andy Hannah from Old Pulteney and chef Aiden Byrne

To begin, we were offered the 12 YO, a single malt with an interesting aroma of seawater and peppery tone. Aiden has created a cured salmon dish sitting on a crispy rice cracker with seaweed salad. It is a straight forward pairing, the honey and small hint of spiciness acted as a great seasoning to the palate for the salmon which suited well with the creamy and oily texture of the red fish. The smoothness of the 12 YO is quite incredible which I can see it works well with classic cocktails such as an Old Fashioned.
Old Pulteney 12 with
cured salmon on rice cracker and seaweed salad

The 17 YO is a personal favorite of mine, the richness and sweetness came through nicely from the sherry casks, it had a really lovely winter aroma of fresh apple with a small hint of spices and honey. For this whisky, Aiden has came up with a chicken liver and sugar parfait dish which made sense to me. The earthly and richness of the liver needed a whisky with a big body and a robust flavour and the 17 YO totally delivered on that front. The garnish of chocolate and spiced plum puree worked in harmony with the sweet and dedicated taste of the whisky, it was the perfect match.
Old Pulteney 17 with chicken liver and wild sugar parfait,
tobacco scented chocolate & spiced plum puree

Last but not least was the 21 YO, a none chilled filter whisky that is no stranger to the whisky connoisseurs from around the world. It has won countless awards, including the "World Best Whisky" title from Jim Murray's whisky bible. Unlike the 17 YO, it has a much more balance aroma with a mixture of fresh fruit and oaky notes. For the pairing, Aiden had came up with a poached lobster with smoked apple puree and vanilla oil. The fresh fruit flavour of the whisky really enhanced the natural sweetness of the lobster, the smokiness and spiciness of the garnishes created complexity while maintained a beautiful balance.
Old Pulteney 17 with poached lobster,
smoked apple puree and vanilla oil

It was a really eye opening evening, the Old Pulteney team and Aiden has done a fantastic job on showing us how whisky can match with food. The three Old Pulteney expression all has its own distinct character which opened up so many ideas when it comes to creative food pairing. I can see whisky and food pairing works just as well as a wine pairing and that is slowly being taken seriously by the trades. Leading restaurants and hotels in London such as the Cinnamon Club and Capital Hotel offers bespoke whisky and food tasting menu and that is a trend I can see it will continue to develop, drinking whisky just got a whole lot more exciting.

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