Thursday, May 2, 2013

I'll Be In My Bunk - An Evening of Scotch and Chocolate

Wine and food tastings have been around for a long time. One thing though, wine is not my drink of choice. I really like a good beer and I'll have a sip of wine with a meal, a red, Merlot perhaps, but honestly I'd just rather just skip the flirtation and cut right to the chase.

The after dinner Scotch whisky. 

Wine is someone showing up with flowers at the door.  A good scotch is tumbling under a blanket in front of the fire and "Barkley, bring back my socks!"

Wine is  often paired with cheese.  Scotch and cheese? Uh. . . no thanks.

But chocolate?

Scotch and chocolate pairings are not an invention of the Range but it's not something I'd tried, until a gal friend came back from the West Coast with some of the most incredible artisan chocolate,  TCHO - New American Chocolate and rumors of such late night hook ups.
 "bartender -the Titanic saw less ice, make it neat please"

I have admitted I am new to Scotch, only trying it well into adulthood.  At first I was a typical "I don't have a clue what I'm sipping or what I'm tasting" but with another novice pilot friend, we branched out in learning the various nuances of a dram.

Wilbur  - I detect an undertone of saddle leather
Ed - Perhaps, and a hint of straw.

Soon, I was hooked on the wonderful world of good Scotch. Pair that with the finest chocolate?  I'm game.

Not all pairings will work and single malts are definitely the way to go as they have very particular flavor profiles, as do single origin chocolates (chocolate that’s grown in a particular place for specific flavor qualities.) They can be herbal, grassy, fruity or smoky.

Adding to the confusion, whisky has not only  many different personalities, a single dram can have many distinct notes.  You start with the nose, then progress to the palate, and finally, the finish.  Chocolate too, is similar.  There's the snap as you break it, the subtle aroma under the nose and then the rich complexities of taste, fully released from the cacao butter as it melts, at perfect mouth temperature.
As a general rule, whisky opens up the taste of the chocolate well, and chocolate mitigates a bit of the alcohol burn.  But some chocolate is so intense it could clobber the subtleties of some whisky, some is so bland, the whisky will not let it get a word in edgewise. To truly work well, the aroma and flavor of both the Scotch and the chocolate need to complement one another, with the regional characteristics of both playing a key roll in the effectiveness of the pairing.

To truly get a combination you love, you need to learn your own palate, what you like and then experiment.  If you're just used to wine tastings, be prepared for a wonderful surprise.  Scotch has so much more of a greater mouth feel than wine, so get ready to grab your bits of fine chocolate and exploit the taste to its fullest potential.

Until then - I'll leave you with a few of my own findings  - quick HOTR primer on Whisky and Chocolate Pairings.
Avoid:

Cu Dhub (bastard offspring of Loch Du and WD40) and Hersheys (like eating a cocoa Yankee candle)

Edradour 10yo (burn a gummi bear with an acetylene torch) and Coconut M and M's (choco/sunblock)

Tullibardine 10yo (endorsed by soccer hooligans everywhere) and Nestle's Crunch (asphalt and gravel)

Tamnavulin 10yo (rated "OK" by drunken Australian Infantrymen) and Venchi Cuor di Cacao 85% (ever stick your tongue on a frozen metal girder?)

Cragganmore 12yo (gentlemen prefer blands) and Pralus Venezuela 75% (the dark roast deflowers any delicate flavorings this chocolate once had)

Must Try -

Bowmore 15 and Lindt A Touch of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate

Laphroaig 18
and Lindt Madagascar 65% Chocolate 

Ardbeg Uigeadail
and Picaro Salt and Nibs

Glengoyne 23 year
and L’Artisan du Chocolat: Madong 70%

Glenlivet Master Distillers Reserve
and TCHO Dark Chocolate with Subtle Nutty Notes. (Outstanding, coffee, a hint of nut, becoming sweeter as it melts)

You all enjoy.  I'll be in my bunk.

26 comments:

  1. You should try Laguvulin. It needs nothing. It stands by itself. Costco sometimes has it on sale for $52 and it's well worth it.

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  2. And add Springbank and Macallan to the DEFINITE try list! :-)

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  3. Damn, I just sprained a finger and punched a hole in my screen. I'm Tweeting this.

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  4. Got a buzz and a sugar rush just reading your post. Good one Doc.

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  5. Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban was the first real adult single malt I was introduced to... It's a 12 year with the last two in port wine casts.

    Glenmorangie's Finalta (I'm pretty sure I've spelled that wrong) is another smooth single malt that I recommend.

    Haven't tried either with chocolate yet but now I'll have to.

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  6. Dang -

    Other than the name Glenlivet, I've never heard of any of the good stuff, Scotch or chocolate. For that matter, other than the ever affordable Hershey's, M&Ms and Nestle, I've never heard of any of the avoidable stuff either.

    Sigh.

    I've led a sheltered, deprived life, I have.

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  7. Have you tried The Glenlivet Nadurra? Oh good Lord is that tasty.

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  8. I'm sure that I'm not the first to point this out, but chocolate goes pretty well with a good heavy red (Cabernet/Borddeaux). Avoid sweet; tannin is your friend in one of these (i.e. Merlot is not your friend).

    Chocolate paired with white wine is a bad joke, probably from someone trolling you. Beware of video, as if Barkley needs to be told his job.

    Lastly, chocolate goes pretty well with beer, particularly bitter German beer. I quite like it with Beck's, although a more energetic crowd may like it with a bustier beer like St. Pauli Girl.

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  9. Nice. I have a bottle of the Uigeadail in the kitchen now. And I'm a lover of all things Laphroaig. I toured both on Islay a few years ago with a friend. Try the Triple Wood- it's fantastic also.

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  10. Jim Pickering - Laguvulin almost made the top five pairings, it is indeed supurb.

    Keads - cheers!

    Old NFO - what, no Japanese Scotch? :-)

    Mathew Paust - thanks for the link!

    Skip - just a little of each, before a day off, perfect.

    Frankenear - I will add those to the "must try" lists.

    PPPP - a tiny bit of the really good stuff is so much better than a big portion of the mediocre. That philosophy works for about anything.

    Fuzzy - there's a store up here near the big city that has a collection of scotch like none other in the area. I will go look for that one.

    Borepatch - the TCHO chocolate people have a youtube video out about one of the beer chocolate pairings. Their chocolate was outstanding, and I even found some at Whole Foods, so didn't have to order online when my gift supply ran out. Merlot huh? Good to know, always gave me a headache if I drank a full glass.

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  11. I was a blended scotch person most of my younger life, not knowing any better. I was staying on someone else's dime in one of the really nice hotels in Orlando (the one with the marching ducks). In the lounge one night, I was drinking a blend, Chivas.

    The bartender asked if I wanted to try a really good scotch. Sure! A few moments a small glass of 18 year old McAllan appeared. A small glass of heaven. Never went back to blended.

    You, however, have got me cheating on my dear scotch with an Irish lass, Ms. Jameson! Sigh!

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  12. Sadly I was all out of chocolate (even the cheap stuff!) last night, though I do have good Scotch single malt, and Bourbon around.

    And I can highly recommend the Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt varieties! Very tasty!
    Of course, folks who know me, call me the Salt Vampire...

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  13. "I have admitted I am new to Scotch, only trying it well into adulthood."

    I've been drinking Irish whiskey for a while, but according to numerous witnesses it would be presumptous of me to describe myself as anywhere near "well into adulthood".

    Especially if I've been drinking any appreciable amount of Irish whiskey ....

    I have a standing order for Father's Day, my birthday and Christmas for either 21-year old Bushmills' Single Malt or 18-year old Jamesons'. YMMV depending on which side of the aisle your Irish forbears came from. Given your hair color, Brigid, I presume that you have some forebears from Eire.

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  14. I'm more plebian than patrician...
    Haven't had much single malt - can't afford it. Best Scotch I've had is Haig Pinch.
    As to fine chocolate - I'm partial to Ritter Sport - from Germany.
    Incredibly smooth.

    Still prefer Maker's Mark and Hornitos - not together, though!
    :-)

    gfa

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  15. Bob in Tampa - there's almost always a little bottle of Jameson on the buffet.

    Monkeywrangler - I worked with a lady who had quite the affinity for salt. One birthday, as a gag, we got her a salt lick. Fortunately she laughed, as there was also some good salt seasonings and salted chocolate to go with it.

    RonF - being adopted I'm not sure though my parents had some baseline ancestry when they got me. I look about as Irish as they come except for the almond shaped eyes which give away my Cree ancestry, except they are green and the build which is the Viking part of me. There's some Scot in there to.

    I will head over to Leo's later to see what might be added to the collection for a Friday nightcap. With a pork roast with onion gravy cooking away, and as cold as it got today, that would be good.

    armedlaughing - perhaps the Scotch fairy needs to send you some single Malt for the next special occasion. :-)

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  16. I tried some Japanese scotch last weekend at a work day for the moose camp. Aside from it being Japanese, we couldn't put our collective fingers on it, but it was just...off.

    I'll also blame you for causing my eyes to stray toward Ms. Jameson. And lest anyone scream "sacrilege!" it's actually quite lip-smacking in a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter night.

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  17. Longmorn is nice too.

    And there's a reason Scots and Irish have red hair-something about Vikings plundering and carrying off the wimmen-folk.

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  18. That special monthly night is 10 days away.... a report will arrive.

    TheOneNotToBeMessedWith has gotten hooked on the Lindt brand. Current favorites are the Dark with a touch of Sea Salt and the new one...Dark with Caramel and salt.

    One problem in Michigan is the limited brands, due to absolute control by the state controlling agency. There are workarounds..

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  19. I was introduced to good scotch by the writings of a prominent gun blogger several years ago. Now I'll have to try some good chocolate with it. Next time I'm home I may try the combination while sitting by the fire in the back yard.

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  20. That special monthly night is 10 days away.... a report will arrive.

    TheOneNotToBeMessedWith has gotten hooked on the Lindt brand. Current favorites are the Dark with a touch of Sea Salt and the new one...Dark with Caramel and salt.

    One problem in Michigan is the limited brands, due to absolute control by the state controlling agency. There are workarounds..

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  21. I still haven't developed a palate for Scotch, but I also came to whiskey appreciation (snobbery) well into adulthood (aka, delayed adolescence) - with Bourbon and Irish whiskeys being my tipple of choice - to the exclusion of beer, now that I've got the diabeetus.

    Bourbon and chocolate are also an awesome pairing - my favorite being Jefferson's Reserve and Lindt Excellence Chili. Alas, also off the menu now.

    Also, for those that enjoy Irish whiskey, try Redbreast. Yum. I actually like it better than Midleton's, which is more than double the price.

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  22. I must confess, I'm usually well stocked with premium dark chocolates, but a little light on the Scotch.
    Dark beer and chocolate, damned tasty.
    There are a few fine chocolate porters and stouts that need no solid complement.

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  23. I'll take the Irish stuff, thanks. When I went to Ireland, I discovered they usually use Power's in hot drinks. When I recently used Tullamore Dew in my coffee, it was incredible, and it's just hard to go wrong with Jameson.

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  24. What single-malts and chocolates have in common is that some are better than others but it's all good.

    I'm no great hard-liquor drinker nor expert in the fractal connoisseurship of Scotch, but there are times when a shot of "No Can Do" closes out the day like nothing else...

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  25. J.R., see if you can find the 12-year old Powers'. Quite good, an excellent value.

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