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How to Pair Whisky with Chocolate


One of Finlay’s favourite things to do in the kitchen is design chocolate recipes, packed full of fresh Scottish ingredients to pair perfectly with some of the exquisite whiskies we have on our doorstep.

Whether you’re operating a chocolate kitchen in the Scottish Highlands (bit niche?); trying to delight and impress your dinner guests; or simply wanting to learn a new skill that ties two of your favourite things together; chocolate and whisky pairing is a great way to spend your time.

Not only is pairing chocolate with whisky really fun, but it also has the ability to totally transform a whisky, bringing out notes and flavours you might not have picked up on before. It is also a great way for someone who mightn’t be the biggest whisky fan to develop a taste for it!

So, let’s get started.

 

1.        Blind Tasting

Slowly smell and then sip your whisky and have a think about what flavours come to mind. This is a time for creativity, so keep an open mind. Take notes of what flavours you detect in the beginning, middle and end of the sip. Remember, there is no such thing as a wrong answer here!

 

2.        Research

Most whiskies have tasting notes available on the distillery website, so have a look at what the distillers and blenders themselves have to say. There are plenty of whisky review sites and forums for you to have a look at as well to see what other customers can taste. This step is just for a bit of background research though – don’t disregard your own thoughts.

 

3.        Choosing a Direction

Pick out the flavour you think is the most powerful and think about how you want to use it. You can choose to match it, for example, if you’re drinking a whisky that’s been matured in a sherry cask (like Raasay Distillery’s Dùn Cana), then it probably has some strong sultana/raisin flavours. You could run with this and match it with a raisin or date centred chocolate.

Alternatively, you can pair your flavour with a contrasting ingredient. If your whisky tastes spicey, you could choose a creamy chocolate to mellow the heat out. Feel free to be as outrageous and adventurous as you like here – you never know how well things might go!

 

4.        Get Cooking/Looking

If you’re making your own chocolates, develop 3 or 4 different flavours and have your own mini tasting. See what works and what doesn’t. What works in theory might not work in practice, so see what you think. You might have hit the jackpot and found something you think is perfect, but don’t be disheartened if you need to head back to the drawing board. Keep trying and tasting and eventually you’ll narrow it down to the perfect pairing.

If you’re buying chocolates, get a box with a mixture of different flavours and milk, dark and white chocolates. Choose a box which includes the flavours you’re looking for, but with a mixture you’ll have some to fall back on if your plan didn’t work out as you’d expected. Our Classic or Local Selections are perfect for pairings, if we do say so ourselves.


5.        Share

Invite your pals round to show off your skills. If you’re looking for full marks, give them a wee speech about the whisky, its origins, what sort of cask/s it was matured in and some tasting notes. And then, enjoy!

 

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