Peat for starter, main and sweet

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It is Peat Week here at EWB! A whole week of nothing but tasty, tasty peat, but we all know (or so sensible Doctor Tiger informs us) that you can’t survive solely on peated whisky for a whole week. Therefore, I have been charged with the arduous task of recounting some of the great peat and food combinations that have graced my palate over the years of working in various whisky jobs and experimenting in the kitchen at home. Be ready for tales of perfect peat-za’s, the enchanting ench-Islay-adas, and the traditional Scottish crana-Kiln (puns are for my own enjoyment and none of these have been created…yet!). I have supplied my own three course peat-paired menu below, but feel free to suggest any of your own peat/food combos in the comments below.

G.G’s Menu du Peat

Starter:

Scottish Scallops Seared in whisky - This was one of the best starters I ever tasted, certainly the best scallops I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy, and it was all courtesy of annual EWB birthday bash host Michael Neave. If I remember correctly it was Caol Ila 12 that he used in the dish, a great accompaniment as the lighter smoke, dirty oil and soft citrus notes in the whisky won’t overpower the delicate, juicy flavors of the scallops and add an extra level of complexity. A must try for anyone fancying an easy yet special peat accompaniment.

OR… The matching of a light bodied Islay with seafood can be used on many other fish dishes. Shellfish work great; try Caol Ila/Bunnahabhain/Springbank  with mussels, prawns, clams, oysters (or try sipping something like Bowmore out of an oyster shell just after eating it; crazy textures and flavours!). For bigger fish, try something sweet and smooth like Connemara with smoked salmon (The main image is my attempt at making this with a beetroot salad…it was good!) or try Arbroath Smokies from RR. Spink with something strong flavoured enough to come through against the Smokies , like with Ardbeg à la Ardbog Day 2013.

Original Bowmore straight out of an oyster shell is definitely worth a try!

Main:

 Venison Steak and Mushroom Sauce - I love a nice pink venison steak. Chuck on a peppered, creamy mushroom sauce and you have a plate of delight! The gamey taste of the meat lends itself well to a nice earthy, wood smoke and I find that the ultimate accompaniment is a whisky with a little richness behind this wood smoke, like the Kilchoman Sherry Cask Release. Even better if you add a touch of sherry to the mushroom sauce when you accompany it with this fiery sherry cask release. The softer wood smoke, rather than a pungent smoke, fits the meat well and the gentle sweet and fruity spice doesn’t harm the pair either. You could also try a port cask finish like the Talisker Port Ruighe or the BenRiach Solstice to add a little more red fruit warmth and hint of Autumn spice.

OR… my girlfriend’s a veggie and so I find myself eating vegetarian food quite a lot. This may be a bit lighter in character than a big chunk of beef steak or venison and you don’t want to overpower it with a powerful Uigeadail or Octomore (or with her cooking maybe you do…oh no he didn’t!). For something like a simple pasta dish, creamy risotto or crispy salad you may want to try a lighter, caramel peat like Ardmore or something with an intense smoke but also juicy, fresh fruit like the newAnCnoc Rutter.

Of course, this is just my guide. You should experiment for yourselves! When I had a bottle of Laphroaig Quarter Cask I was forever chucking it into everything. A particular success being my Chili Con Smoky and a spectacular failure my spicy, smoky Bolognese.

Dessert:

CHEESE! - To be honest I could write a whole blog on whisky and cheese but I am going to try and keep it brief. They are the perfect match and even the strongest of peated whiskies has a place on the cheese board. I was lucky enough last rear to go through some cracking cheeses with Rachel Barrie and some peated Glen Garioch (1986 I believe). It was an absolute delight with some Cambus O’May Scottish hard cheese. For a mouldy, blue and peaty combination look no further than the brilliant Dunsyre Blue cheese with some peppery Talisker 10 (Bath Blue is a great alternative blue from South of the border). For a creamier cheese like Smoked Applewood nothing goes better than the smooth, smoky classic Lagavulin 16.

Chocolate - I was lucky enough to experiment with some food and whisky matching when I worked at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. The last two cheese matches above were from there and that is where I also discovered my ultimate whisky and chocolate match; Bowmore 15 and good dark chocolate. It is a brilliant combination and I don’t think it can be bettered. However, I can drunkenly(responsibly, of course!) attest that Compass Box Peat Monster and Creme Eggs go very, very well together as well! Or just drink some Bunnahabhain Toiteach which is the peat world equivalent of smoky, salted caramel chocolate.

Afters

Any whisky you bloody well like! Personally, my ideal end of the night peat would be either Ardbeg Uigeadal, Smokehead 18 or Caol Ila 18, three of my favourite whiskies over the last few years. A Laphroaig Espresso Martini would also not go amiss.

But that is just for me and I am not you. To conclude; peat whisky and food combinations are great, go ahead and try them yourself!

Enjoy the rest of Peat Week here on EWB and remember if you want a chance to win a visit to Knockdhu, home of anCnoc, to celebrate the release of their Peated whisky range (below) you can enter here!

Cheers,

Graeme Gardiner

 

Comments

  1. You managed to mention your girlfriend in a post about peaty whisky. That’s so… so… sweet? Just saying before the others jump in;)

    Love the suggestions and the smoky Bolognese sounds vile. Also, you deserve the Pulitzer Prize for the title:D It RHYMES!

  2. I’m always trying to use up whisky that I’m not hugely taken with into food, or finishing up a bottle to clear some space. A whisky sauce is always a safe bet or making your own burgers and putting a nice peated whisky through the mix makes for a great combination. Ardmore traditional is a good choice; not only packs a punch but for a NAS you do see it at a great price consistently.

    Can be made and frozen in advance for the day when the sun shines and the barbecue is rolled out.

  3. L – It might have been sweet…maybe…except for the slight insult at her cooking. I can’t stop the rhyming it just comes naturally. Hoban is not the only romantic!

    WR- Ardmore burgers sound absolutely amazing! I will definitely be trying that at some point, thanks for the suggestion!

  4. Ohhh please can you “write a whole blog on whisky and cheese”?!

  5. Or better still, let’s partner up with a great cheesemonger, like the one on West Bow, and do a whisky+cheese session. And then we can write about it and make everyone really jealous.

  6. I haven’t ventured into cooking with whisky yet – although I always ensure a generous glug of Bourbon goes into my chilli – but whisky and food pairings are more my scene.

    On the topic of whisky and cheese I agree with Zoe: it deserves more exposure here! The best combination I’ve come across did feature a peated whisky: Benromach Peat Smoke and gorgonzola picante. Utterly glorious.

  7. The Compass Box Peat Monster and Creme Eggs combo sounds interesting. I wonder what the Creme Eggs equivalent in SA would be. :)

    Jeannette
    http://whiskyoftheweek.co.uk/

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