Tag: Scotland

Tasting Talisker Port Ruighe in Skye

Tasting Talisker, Isle of Skye

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Isle of Skye in Scotland for the launch of Talisker Port Ruighe, the latest release from Talisker and a new permanent addition to the Scotch malt whisky’s portfolio.

The name, Port Ruighe, is a nod towards the Gaelic way of writing Portree, the location of the distillery on Skye, and the port casks that the whisky has been finished in. In essence, Talisker Port Ruighe is the Talisker 10 finished in casks that had previously contained port.

In the company of journalists from UK, France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere in Europe, we tasted both the Talisker Port Ruighe and Talisker Storm (another recent release).

While Talisker Storm is spicy, smoky and an obviously more potent version of Talisker 10, Talisker Port Ruighe was a softer, silkier and, for me, more elegant expression. The fruit is brought forward while the spice and peat is pulled back by the port cask finish which worked really rather well. It’s noticeably sweeter too but perhaps that doesn’t work so well for everyone.

We tried two other approaches to the whiskies – tasting with food and an blending exercise.

In the food session, we tried both Taliskers with food that picked out aspects of the whisky such as black pepper for the spice and strawberries for the fruit. While it highlighted what the blender, Maureen Robertson, had tried to achieve, it also helped to show how they might be paired to food, and desserts in particular.

In the second session, which is sadly not available to the public, we tried our own hand at blending. We were given three liquids (whiskies at various stages of ageing) which we had to blend by taste and by smell to try and achieve a mystery liquid. Let’s just say it’s significantly harder than it sounds and it already sounds pretty impossible.

The sessions and the trip itself was a great insight into how much of a skilled task blending whiskies is; it’s certainly hard not to be in awe by the end.

Read more about Skye and whisky on Culture Explorer

Read more about other cask finished options at Yahoo!

Here are a few snaps from Talisker:

Talisker had kindly hosted the trip to Skye.

Haggis and whisky tasting at Boisdale

Boisdale of Belgravia is at 15 Eccleston Street, Belgravia, London SW1W 9LX www.boisdale.co.uk

Ahead of Burn’s night on the 25th of January, I was invited to a lunch time blind tasting of haggis and malt whisky at Boisdale of Belgravia.

Andy Rose at Boisdale

Boisdale is, for some, synonymous with Scottish food. The owner, Ranald Macdonald, is a Scotsman whose family’s roots can be traced back to the 14th century. His father, also Ranald Macdonald, is the 24th Chief and Captain of Clanranald – a branch of one of the biggest clans in Scotland. With these strong Scottish ties, it’s only natural that the restaurant takes an air of, well, Scottishness. That bit is obvious as soon as you enter the restaurant and see the tartan chairs.

Tartan aside, the restaurant is eccentric to say the least. Every wall is filled with something framed – be it painting, drawing or photograph. Each room also embodies some quirky characteristic. And there’s certainly plenty of character to choose from, with the Macdonald Bar, a courtyard garden, a back bar, the Auld restaurant, the Jacobite room and a cigar terrace. Perhaps that’s why it’s also the perfect venue for events such as live jazz, cigar nights and whisky tastings, which Boisdale runs regularly.

Haggis at Boisdale

The haggis and whisky tasting is one such event. On this occasion, the attendees were a mix of members (the restaurant has its own member’s club), their guests and regular diners of the restaurant. The restaurant’s head chef, Andy Rose, presided over the tastings and introduced the haggis. We also enjoyed a recitation of “An Address To A Haggis” by a descendant of Robert Burns.

We each had a sample of six whiskies and six haggises to taste. The idea was that we would taste them all in turn and pick our favourite haggis, whisky and haggis/whisky combination. In practice however, the events were a little more lively. That is not to say, of course, that people didn’t take it seriously. On the contrary, some took it very seriously in fact and tried to guess the whisky according to its defining characteristics. But others were simply content to taste some fine whiskies with some delicious haggises. And when you gather a room full of strangers over drink and food, things, inevitably, takes on an air of “Come Dine With Me”.

But back to the haggis and whisky.

Whisky at Boisdale

It was my very first taste of haggis and I have to say, I rather liked it. Each haggis had a very distinctive taste and texture, with its own unique blend of spices. My favourite was from Mogerleys of Dumfries for its slightly more meaty flavour. We also tried Crombie’s of Edinburgh, Macsweens, Ramsay of Carluke, Findlay’s of Portobello and Boisdale’s own, specially created by Andy Rose.

On the whisky front, we had Johnnie Walker Black Label 12y.o., The Macallan 10y.o., Talisker 10y.o., Glenfiddich 12y.o., Glenmorangie The Original 10y.o. and The Glenlivet 12y.o. Of these, the Glenfiddich 12y.o. came up tops for me although both of my neighbours had different ideas. Such is the nature of personal taste.

After that jolly lunch, some retired to the bar for more drinks, others stayed for more haggis and conversation. And if you’re me, you would have gone out searching for coffee to try and counter the inevitable intoxication.

(First seen on Foodepedia)

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