Whisky and chocolate – a match made in heaven?

Whisky and chocolate…

There are times when one hits himself for forgetting his camera! Last week I had such a moment.
Through choqoa.com, I found out there was a Whisky+chocolate tasting planned in my favorite Belgian city, Ghent.
Evert-Jan De Kort combined his knowledge of quality chocolate with the people of Thebondingdram.eu
6 Whisky’s, each combined with two single origin bars… the tasters would choose the chocolate that went best with the whisky served.

What a brilliant idea… next to Chocolate, whisky is my thing. Though I don’t consider myself a connoisseur yet, my palate has evolved from the softer whisky’s up to the peatier, smokier Single Malts.

Now, what made this particular event so appealing, was that I would be able to taste 12 different chocolates and get introduced to the world of independent bottlers of single Malts.
It was an amazing evening, covering a wide array of whisky’s and chocolates. But what surprised me the most is how the two noble products go well together, but also mysteriously alter their tastes.
Describing all the Whisky’s and chocolates would be such a looooong read and I did purchase some chocolates I’ll be reviewing in detail soon, but here are some of the most striking conclusions…

The whisky + chocolate pairings of the night:

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Whisky:Càrn Mòr Speyside Sherry Butt – 15Y – 1996 – strictly limited

Chocolate: The Grenada Chocolate company 60% + Pacari 72% Ecuador Los Rios

The sweet, vanilla, almond and sherry flavoured whisky paired so subtle with the sweet yet strangely fresh tasting Grendada 60%. The Pacari had a stonger acidity factor that didn’t go as well with the sweetness of the whisky.

Whisky:Càrn Mòr Glen Moray Hogshead – 17Y – 1995 – strictly limited

Chocolate: Pralus Equateur 75% + Pacari 100% Raw Ecuador

This was a hard one… a light and dry tasting Single Malt clashed with the deep, dark and burned touches of the Pralus. The 100% Pacari was an event on itself, but simply overwhelmed the whisky! Drinking the Malt after a piece of Pacari seemed to make the whisky ever so sweet. What a strange experience it was.

Whisky:  Càrn Mòr Bunnahabhain Sherry Puncheon – 10Y – 2001 – strictly limited

Chocolate: Originals Beans Beni Wild Harvest 66% + Duffy’s 70% Star of Peru

Another sherry whisky and my favorite of the night. The red fruits so abbundant available in the whisky acomplemented the gentle tones in the Original Beans chocolate. Such an evenly, gently evolving taste, no brisk changes just all chocolate goodness. The Duffy’s was a bit bolder, yet very alike the Beni Wild Harvest. A close call, this battle. But it also made clear to me that I search bolder tastes in chocolate, some unexpected ones of nice rolling taste changes.

Whisky:Càrn Mòr Mortlach Speyside Hogshead – 16Y – 1996 – strictly limited

Chocolate: Fresco 214 Madagascar + Pralus République Dominicaine 75%

A very interesting coupling… the aroma of the whisky revealed very clear apple tones, Granny Smith style. The fruits so abundant available in the whisky returned in the Fresco 214, with berry and citrus. What a match! Once again, the intense roasted taste of the Pralus hit me full force. I still can’t believe all the different tastes in chocolate, though this chocolate didn’t work well with this particular whisky.

Whisky:Càrn Mòr Bowmore Hogshead – 11Y – 2001 – strictly limited

Chocolate: Menakao Madagascar 72% + Duffy’s Panama Tierra Oscura 72%

Smoke… lots of delicious smoke in this whisky. Slight seaside saltyness, totaly different from the non-peated Malts before, this one really sparkled my interest. The Menakao worked wonderfully with it, because of a leathery taste turn within all the fruits. The Tierra Oscura reveiled a more nutty aroma with slight roast and vanilla touches.

Whisky:Wemyss Malts Bunnahabhain Driftwood “Islay” – 15Y – 1997

Chocolate: Pralus Madagascar Criollo 75% + Duffy’s Corazon Del Ecuador 43% (Milk)

Another deliciously peated Malt… I just love those earthy, salty tastes, combined with unexpected fruitlike sweetness. This time the Pralus Madagascar, didn’t bring out the bright fruit touches I came to expect in th origin and the roasted character of the chocolate was less distinct, making it a lovely pair. The Duffy’s Corazon Del Ecuador missed the needed bold flavours to counter such a vibrant Whisky. It should be an amazing chocolate, but I missed all of the delicate tones.

Whisky:Exclusive Malts Dailuaine – 20Y – 1992

As desert, a chocolate free Single Malt. Blasting with candy, fruity tastes ending towards almonds. a perfect way to end the evening.

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This was a fantastic experience, never did so many tastes and notes mingle and clash in my mouth before.

But in the end, I also wonder how these chocolates taste, without the predominant whisky tones mixed in them. Only one way to find out I guess… taste them again, this time pure.

You can expect some reviews coming up in the next few months. 🙂

A special note on the pictures!

As I wrote above, I did forget my camera. Luckey a fellow photographer/foody did attend the same event and he agreed to share some of his pictures. Pieter Declercq is not only someone who knows how to handle a camera, he’s even more impressive as a cook! Follow his adventures in gastronomy at http://www.hotcuisinedepierre.wordpress.com.

Just prepare to become hungry!

Thanks again Pieter.

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