August Whisky Dinner: Scotch Meets California Cuisine

None of us whisky fans believe in the preconceived notion that summer isn’t the most ideal time for whisky consumption. Whisky is a versatile drink offering its fans many season-appropriate options: from younger and mellower summertime whiskies to older and stronger autumnal and winter ones. This, again, is more of a preconceived notion and matter of personal preference.

So, deciding on the best seasonal whisky wasn’t the goal of our Campari whisky pairing. Rather, we wanted our guests to experience a range of single malts with specifically selected dishes with which to complement or contrast. A method originally suggested by the late whiskey writer Michael Jackson. What we did was quite simple: we served a range of three whisky flavor profiles with each plate of food;

We started with three whiskies consisting of light, medium and peaty (Glen Grant 16 Year Old , Auchentoshan Three Wood,  Bowmore 12 Year Old) and mingled the flavors with Kurobuta Pork  Sliders, Thai Basil Bruschetta, Manchego Cheese Crostini, Arancini, Potato Croquettes, and Chicken Lettuce Wraps,  a surprisingly interesting foreplay of whisky and food. The delicate Thai Basil Bruschetta paired with the light Glen Grant, the Potato Croquettes went well with the Auchentoshan Three Wood, and the slight smoke in the Kurobuta Pork Sliders was complemented by the Bowmore. The real fun was the mixing and matching of various whisky profiles with the different tasty bites.

An interesting example, the light Spanish Manchego Cheese Crostini with sweet saffron syrup was nicely complimented by the light and fruity profile of the Glen Grant 16 Year, while the possessive and smoky character of the Bowmore provided a distinct contrast to the same tasty starter.

We then served another range of flavor profiles (Glen Garioch 12 Year Old, Glen Garioch Founders Reserve and Bowmore 15 Year Old) with Ahi Tuna Tartare Tostadas, Spicy Chicken Drummettes, Dungeness Crab Cakes, and Steak Rolls. We finished with Auchentoshan 12 Year Old and Petite Fours.

Everyone enjoyed different combinations for different reasons while the Glen Garioch Founders Reserve stood out as one of the favorites, a full bodied whisky which easily paired with the widest variety of dishes. (See our featured whisky section)

Not quite sure you’ve totally embraced the vigorous concept of the whisky food pairing? Join us for upcoming whisky gatherings, and learn everything you need to know about the whisky and food tango: techniques of matching a specific whisky with specific foods; choices for the best aperitif, digestif, and desert whisky; and even the surprising methods of cooking with whisky. Any leftover questions can be easily addressed to the person conducting the tasting, who is often a brand ambassador, master distiller, or other “next of kin” of the whisky of the evening.

Our wholehearted thanks go to Campari for sponsoring the dinner and to San Jose’s Fahrenheit Lounge for creating the specialty tasting menu to complement, and yes, contrast, the delicious bites.