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A Great Afternoon Spent Learning About Whisky, Chivas Regal Whisky

written by Jeannette Musembi 24th July 2013

If there’s anything that comes to mind when i hear the word ‘whisky’, it’s definitely Chris Brown’s ‘don’t wake me up’ song, a cold night in Nanyuki and a friend with a bottle of Grants. The rest as they say, is history. I wouldn’t like to entertain you with the events that followed.However, there is a lot of mystery that surrounds a bottle of whisky. Is it exclusively a gentleman’s drink as it’s well known or is it a drink for the ‘sophisticated’ in palate? Truthfully speaking, not many people order whisky in one of their nights out unless they are loyal to the golden drink. It’s even worse when they think about pairing it with their food.

Nelson Aseka

Nelson Aseka

No matter the story behind it,  man or woman, whisky is truly a drink to savor and indulge, and i was happy to experience a small session where Kenya’s own Nelson Aseka, Africa Regional Brand Ambassador-Whiskeys, Pernod Ricard, was happy to take us through a tasting selection of the Chivas Brothers’ portfolio.

It was a bright sunny Tuesday, and the Champagne Bar at the rooftop of Sankara was already set up and ready to offer us the special experience. Spotting a well set up area laden with Chivas Regal Whiskys, i knew it was going to be a good day. For some reason Kenyans are crazy about the Chivas brand. I later found out why.

Chivas Brothers’ portfolio of Scotch whisky brands has scooped a total of 24 gold medals at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC) and The Scotch Whisky Masters. That should tell you something about the quality. The Glenlivet, which is the number 2 Scotch mat whisky brand in the world as well as the Ballantine range have served to put the Chivas Brothers’ blend in the limelight.

Aseka with Chef Gaetano

Imagine how special i felt when i was given the opportunity to sample these great brands under the guidance of the whisky ambassador himself. Sankara’s Chef Gaetano was also present to carefully pair the food to the whiskys and i was excited to see how this would turn out.

First stop was the Chivas Regal 12 years. I found that depending on the aging of the whisky, different flavors and aromas are reached. 12 years was definitely the youngest and Nelson encouraged us to pick up on the aromas. Wild herbs, heather, honey and orchard fruits emanated from the whisky.

Add a bit of distilled water to open the flavors before tasting.Rich and fruity with notes of vanilla, hazelnut and butterscotch. We paired it with: fresh oysters in pancetta foam, profiteroles of chicken and raisin pate, smoked salmon mousse,panna cotta, lemon and vanilla shrimps.

I found that the tasting notes of the whisky were definitely stronger when paired with the food.

Second, the Ballantines Finest whose aroma is soft, elegant, heather honey with a hint of spice was paired with seared stake on parma ham, on oyster mushroom risotto and truffle oil. 

This was my favorite pairing! Absolutely delicious with well balanced subtle flavours with tones of milk chocolate, red apple and vanilla.

The Glenlivet 12 years with fruity summer-like fragrances had tasting notes of fruits and pineapples. Paired with brie on fresh pear nest and walnut, divine is an understatement. It’s good especially with the women because its not smoky as most whiskys and its palate is light and fresh.

Up to this point, i learnt that the food is a fundamental process in whisky pairing. There are flavors in the whisky that are enhanced by the ingredients in the food, hence the meticulous arrangement of which goes where.

Lastly the Chivas, Royal Salute 21 years had a fruity aroma with summer-like fragrances. It was paired with dark chocolate ganache on almond sacker biscuit, coffee mousse tartlet and red berries compote. A perfect ending to the whisky tasting, i am sure that i will try this out next time i order my Chivas.

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