The Whisky Tasting Club The Whisky Tasting Club

Valentine's Chocolate and Whisky Tasting

We have teamed up with Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier and through extensive experimentation we have painstakingly paired their excellent chocolates with some great Scotch whiskies. The whiskies are in our new premium packaging, so these will not fit through a letter box. We will send them by courier to ensure they arrive safely.

Sorry, not currenty in stock, it will be back shortly

Unlike, say, wine, whisky might not be the obvious accompaniment to food. Its flavour might be seen as too strong and overpowering to allow any of the food’s flavour to survive at all. Also, one rarely has meals where a different whisky is served with each course; it is more usual to have an aperitif whisky beforehand and an after-dinner whisky afterwards, perhaps with a cigar.
However, combining whiskies with food is an area of increasing interest to writers. There are many well-known whisky and seafood combinations (e.g. Ardbeg with Oysters and scallops with Oban), meat combinations (e.g. fillet steak with Caol Ila and Lamb with Talisker) and cheese combinations (e.g. Laphroaig with Cropwell Bishop stilton and Glenmorangie with Primadonna). However, less is known about which whiskies go with which chocolates.
Jan Groth and Arne Adler, in their book ‘Whisky and Food’, discuss combining whiskies with ultra-high quality chocolates from places as diverse as France and Venezuela, although actually getting hold of these chocolates is likely to prove a challenge. Combinations such as the rich and floral Springbank 10 with dark pistachio and salt flavoured chocolate creams sound heavenly. But it doesn’t have to be all about exclusivity: at Ardbeg during the 2014 Feis Ile, we found that the kind of milk chocolate found in your average corner shop goes down a storm with some bourbon-cask Ardbegs, where the flavours of both provide a wonderful third, emergent flavour.
The Whisky Tasting Club has joined forces with Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier, to provide you with five whiskies and nine chocolates which we feel work together superbly. Of course, these pairings are very subjective and the approach taken to tasting them together may dictate how well the combination works. For instance, do you try a little whisky first, then pop a portion of chocolate in, mix them a little bit and then pour some more whisky in, or do you put the chocolate in first, then the whisky, then a little more chocolate? There is no perfect way, it’s what works best for you. We recommend chopping each chocolate in about six parts, to give yourself multiple opportunities for experimentation.
What is it we look for in a combination? We have tried to find combinations where some flavours are suppressed and others are accentuated, and where new flavours emerge. For instance, we found the caramel heart takes away some of the sulphur from the Glendronach 18 which in turn accentuates the salt and richness of the chocolate. The Finlaggan and white chocolate langue du chat combination removes some of the more aggressive notes from the whisky and sweetness of the white chocolate. Tempting though it is to tell you what we think you ought to be tasting for all the combinations, we’d rather let you find out for yourself. As with all WTC packs, this is all about discovery. Sláinte and bon appetit!

Glendronach 18 year old with caramel heart

Finlaggan with white chocolate heart and white chocolate langue du chat.

Balblair 2003 with lime & chili and lemongrass & chili.

Compass Box Hedonism with milk marzipan

Talisker Storm with raspberry & black pepper and dark Langue du chat

Compass Box Hedonism

Hedonism is a 100% Scottish grain whisky. Grain whisky is whisky made from grains such as barley, maze, wheat or rye as opposed to malt whisky that must be made exclusively from malted barley. Grain whisky is typically distilled in a continuous column still (as opposed to batch mode pot still used for malt), resulting in a lighter spirit. Bottlings of just Scottish grain whiskies are very unusual, since most of the grain produced in Scotland goes into making blended whisky (a combination of grain and malt). Hedonism is a combination of grain whiskies from Cambus (a distillery that closed in 1993), Carsebridge (closed in 1983) and Cameron Bridge grain whiskies from 14 to 29 years old. The whisky has been matured in top quality 100% first-fill American oak barrels or rejuvenated American oak Hogsheads. Hedonism produced in annually from small batches from especially selected casks.

Retails for around £55

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Finlaggan Old Reserve Islay Malt

Finlaggan is the historic seat of power of the Lord of the Isles, who ruled the Hebrides in medieval times. The derelict castle of the Lords is situated on a small island in Loch Finlaggan on the north east of Islay.

The Finlaggan Islay malt is an independent bottling from an unnamed distillery. Rumour has it the whisky is from Lagavulin, and we tend to agree, it tastes very similar to the young Lagavulin you taste on the legendary Lagavulin warehouse tour.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Sweet, young and iodiney. Caraway seed. Tar. White chocolate. Crispy mackerel with olive oil and lemon juice. Milk pudding.
Palate: Sweet and very light at first, becoming heavily tarry and citric but with a lightish vanilla and tapioca coating. A debonair thug.

Retails for around £30

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Balblair 2003

Balblair is one of Scotland's most under-rated distilleries. You'll find it on the road from Inverness to Wick in the most North Easterly part of Scotland close to Glenmorangie and Dalmore. The air here is meant to be the purest in the United Kingdom and until relatively recently the distillery's standard offering was called Elements. But the whisky was relaunched a few years back and instead of an age statement its various expressions are now marked with a year representing a vintage in a similar way to wine. The new vintage is the 2002 which was released in September 2012. Balblair are owned by Inverhouse, who own 5 distilleries.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Creamy, fluffy red apples, yellow fruit, gentle and sweet.
Palate: Pear, sweet apples, tinned apricot, very sweet and then sharp and spicy. Vanilla ice cream.
Finish: Warm and fluffy.

Retails for around £40

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Talisker Storm

Skye is the most northerly island of the Inner Hebrides and has a population of 10,000. Linked to the mainland by the 570m long Skye bridge (which is now free to use), it is a beautiful island and a popular tourist destination.

Talisker, located beside Loch Harport on the west coast of the island, is one of drinks giant Diageo’s classic malts range. Talisker’s taste profile is peated (at around 18-22 ppm), peppery and reminiscent of the sea. This no-age statement edition was released in 2013.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Intense but with a light and fruity (melon and peaches?) edge. Peppery and peaty. Volcanic and rocky. More intense than the 10 year old.
Palate: Immediately intensely peppery and peaty and again that soft underlying fruity (this time more red fruits) edge which vies for attention with the usual Talisker volcanic elements.

Retails for around £35-40

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Glendronach 18 year old

A personal favourite of mine, this is the second expression of Glendronach we have used in our packs and I don’t think it’ll be the last. Although closed from 1996-2002, the distillery (owned by the same people who own BenRiach, so you know it’s going to be good) is back with a vengeance with its high-quality sherry-casked whiskies. This 18 year old is like one of those wonderful old Boal or Malmsey Madeiras, rich, tangy and voluptuous, with an avalanche of fruits.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Rich and Christmas cakey. Chocolate caramels. Salty and buttery. Ripe grape. Camp coffee.
Palate: Rich. Immediate spice. Tangy. Sweet. Salty. All at the same time. Underlying toffee smoothness. Smooth and lightly-spiced licorice at the finish. Almost Madeira-like.

Retails for around £55-65

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Pack of 9 Highland Chocolatier chocolates

After training under great Chocolatiers of the Belgian, Swiss and French schools World class chocolatier Iain Burnett gained recognition as an artisan of rare quality chocolates with a long list of national and international awards.
He uses a rare premium-grade cacao from the South Atlantic island of São Tomé. Rich volcanic soils add to the powerful and intense flavour of this 70% cocoa chocolate. It offers an exceptionally long journey through the palate with an unusually wide range of floral and aromatic notes with sweet touches, from subtle olives to spices and red fruits. Carefully altering methods and combinations allows him to pull quite different flavour characteristics from this fantastic range. This pack contains the following chocolates.

caramel heart

white chocolate heart

white chocolate langue du chat

lime & chili

lemongrass & chili

milk marzipan

raspberry & black pepper

dark Langue du chat

Retails for around £20

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