Macallan Whisky and Artsan du Chocolat Whisky and Chocolate Pairing Event
A little while ago I went to a whisky and chocolate pairing. I’m not a big whisky drinker as I always saw it as a very unfeminine, masculine drink. The few tastings I have been to including the lovely Compass Box and the recent Macallan tastings have changed my mind about this so much so that I assisted another woman at duty free choose a Macallan whisky to purchase.
Chocolate is something else I am passionate about and after helping her choose some Hotel Chocolat chocolates and The Macallan Whiskey Makers Select, I felt I had done my duty to a fellow discoverer of whisky and settled back for a long flight. I also finally found time to formally write up the multitude of notes I had taken on the night.
Something that most people may not be aware of is the extreme effort that goes in to pairing a chocolate and an alcohol. Gerard Coleman (the sexy accent seems to be a cross between Irish and French) and his colleagues from Artisan du Chocolat worked diligently on trying to find the right chocolate to pair with The Macallan whiskies to create the perfect truffle. They went through a large number of types of chocolate in an effort to pair them up and then invited chocolate experts, chocolate and whisky bloggers, and whisky experts to confirm their findings.
The evening started simply enough with this gorgeous array of whisky on the table. I sat under the image of a canopy of cocoa trees, as a table that looked like a giant chocolate bar. I must admit I was looking forward both to the sampling of everything and buying some more chocolate from Artisan du Chocolat whose sea salt caramels I have become somewhat addicted to. I was prepared to taste the whisky but worried it would again be too strong for me. We had a delicious Cocoa Pulp Bellini which was apparently part of Artisan’s Chocolateria cocktail menu. It was served to thirsty, hot and tired me in a champers glass with cocoa pulp topped up with prosecco.
We were educated brilliantly and expertly by both the Macallan expert Toby Shellard and Gerard Coleman himself from Artisan du Chocolat. The pairings weren’t always to my taste as I am not a fan of the stronger tobacco flavours (thus why I prefer the arriba nacional bean from Askinosie chocolate grown in Ecuador) nor the current penchant for using Tonka beans however the chocolate was both changed by, and changed the whisky. It was a fascinating sensation and one I didn’t realise was possible.
We tried several whiskies – Macallan 15, Macallan 12, Macallan Select Oak and Macallan Whisky Makers Special Edition. Now, one thing you may not have known is that whisky is matured in different barrels and the previous occupants of those barrels is what can give whisky its distinctive and changeable taste. For example – it wasn’t so much the age as the oak I loved in the Macallan 15 whereas the Macallan 12 was too dark for my liking having been matured in oloroso casks. We were given a glass of this on the table and the sweetness of it with the whisky just didn’t sit well with me. I had always thought it was the water that it was made with but no – it is also the barrel it is aged in.
It would be interesting to get more women from my social circle involved in trying whisky and learning about it. I wish I knew more and could have a bunch of friends around for an evening to try whisky out. I’m fond of neat rum but whisky is probably wrongly overlooked by people who don’t understand it or like me, have tried the wrong ones and just need to be shown they don’t all taste like you wither drank the bottom of an ashtray or swamp water. Some, like The Macallan and Compass Box, are wonderful.
In the end, I fell in love with the Select Oak and Orange Blossom and Orchid Milk chocolate from Artisan du Chocolat. I’ll be reviewing some of the chocolate bars from that evening on their own. I really think that whisky needs to lose the exclusively guy drink image because it can be extremely pleasant. I might not choose it over a rum in a bar with a high quality selection of rums but I would definitely choose Select Oak over a mediocre rum – or to enjoy with chocolate 🙂 In fact I fell in love with it so much, I made a point of buying some on a recent trip and convincing an American woman at duty free to buy some as well.