As a part of the EABL Love Whisky Festival 2014, EABL invited us to an exclusive dinner at Soko Restaurant at Dusit D2.
Here, we were taken through a whisky journey from age to style of blending and finally to the perfect pairings for food.
Under the masterful guidance of Kariuki Mukii we sampled several cocktails and three incredible whisky brands including Johnnie Walker Double Black Label, Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve and Johnnie Walker Blue Label. But they were not the only whiskies available. Guests had their choice of various single malts including Cardhu, Bushmills, Talisker, Dalwhinnie, Oban, Clynelish and many more brands to purchase at special discounted rates.
A 3 Course Meal
For dinner, we had a three course meal prepared by Soko’s Chef Anton Gasnier. The first course was mesclun leaves, fresh tomato, almond sprouts, parmesan crisps and black olive powder paired with Johnnie Walker Double Black.
Kariuki indicated that the reason Double Black is darker is because it is aged in barrels which are burned from the inside. In fact, if you pour a little Double Black in your hands and rub it down like you are oiling your hands, you will be surprised to find that you can smell the charcoal. Try it!
The second course of the evening was a choice of either slow cooked pork belly, crispy skinned, scented apple puree and ginger soy glaze or warm organic tomato on a black olive and basil crumble tart paired with Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve.
The Gold Reserve is an 18 year old whisky which originally was only meant to be given as gifts to the higher ups in the Johnnie Walker Company. However, because of it’s amazing flavor and how popular it was with anyone who sampled it, it was released as a public product. If you look closely, above the “18 year” age line, it says “Private Blend”.
Finally, the third course was a white chocolate mousse, stewed strawberry and aired pistachio sponge paired with Johnnie Walker Blue Label. The Blue Label is one of the most prestigious in the whole Johnnie Walker line. This wonderful pallet teaser is blended with hints of fruit and honey. It is perfectly paired with desserts because it has multiple layers of smooth but high impact flavors.
Drinking Like A Whisky Connoisseur
As he took us through an evening of fine whiskies, Kariuki shared a story we have all seen, heard or been the star of at one point or another.
“You are in the club with some friends, you are the whisky lover in the group and your friends are not. One of your friends orders a whisky and some water then proceeds to dilute the whisky like you would chase vodka with a soft drink. Then he pretends to enjoy the bitter result for an hour while you shake your head in disappointment…”
A lot of us do not, or in my case “did not”, know how to enjoy a good whisky. It’s not just mix and drink. the reason we add a splash of water to whisky is to open up the flavors. For instance, if you taste the Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve you can fully enjoy the sweetness of it. In fact, if you throw in an orange slice or some orange zest, the fruitiness of this whisky really comes across.
Smell It From Your Chest
According to Kariuki, only novices drink whisky like a shot. First you must appreciate the whisky. Swirl it in the glass. Smell it by holding the glass under your nose but close to your chest so that the aroma has to rise up. Sip and bite. Add a few drops of water and repeat. The difference between whisky and vodka is that vodka is made by taking things out of it so that it becomes a pure liquid but whisky is blended by putting things in. So don’t rush it. Enjoy and identify flavors. It’s how the real whisky drinkers do it.