The broader the bean - the better it is with a whisky?

We’ve had our first picking of broad beans from the community garden - I know some growers have been picking for weeks but we were a bit late sowing and are in a very windy site. Anyway, now the beans are ready and are utterly fabulous.

Broad beans have a much earthier flavour than runner or green beans (which are both very fresh and herbaceous). They are meatier, more like a fava bean. Very young they can be eaten in the pod - but why? A little larger and the beans are sweet but still have a bite. Once they get larger than your thumb nail they really do benefit from double podding - slipping the tender bright green centres out of the (by now) grey inner skins. This, however, is a labour of love: be impressed if a friend goes to these lengths for you. It is why you pay your money for broad bean dishes in restaurants!

Click the images to get downloadable recipes.

Pies are in fashion, and this PrimaVerde Pie is one of the simplest to make at home. Just buttered filo pastry and vegetables: whatever you have - the green vegetables in season now are perfect for it. Of course today broad beans should be the star! A slightly sweet whisky such as Asyla from Compass Box (about £34/70cl) will complement this well: light but buttery, slightly peppery and rich with the emphasis on easy rather than deep and challenging. Perfect for a summer lunchtime dram or a pre-show supper or picnic?


Cracked wheat makes great and satisfying salads and, of corse, echoes the cereal notes in whisky. In this Broad bean cracked wheat salad there is a slight sweetness from the currants but much freshness from the herbs, beans and cucumber - you could add a chopped fresh chilli to the mix for a bit of heat. The olive oil dressing adds to the mouthfeel as well as to the flavour. I am suggesting Glendronach’s fabulous Revival 15yo (about £45/70cl) as a pairing: rich in flavour and sherry barrel matured, it has plenty of muted pepper to pull out the sweetness of the currants as well as the herbaceous notes of the herby broad beans.


Depending on how much garlic and chilli you use my Broad Bean Bash is an assault on the senses and so it needs a pretty big and masterful whisky to go with it. Or does it? I first turned to Islay but The Dalmore 12yo (about £38/70cl), sweet and rich, with pepper and spice and a hint of almost chocolate flavours, tamed the fire of the bash and left it more rounded in the mouth. It worked for me, so what do you think?


For my stunning Spiced aubergine and broad bean salad I tried a couple of whiskies of very different styles. In the end it was Auchentoshan’s Three Wood (about £46/70cl) which made the best match for me: complex, rich and full of flavour with pepper notes and a depth which conquers all, the salad with the whisky were just wonderful in the sunshine, in the garden at lunchtime.


Now, the difficult bit comes round again. If you love broad beans I hope that you make all of these recipes but if you are going shopping for whisky and will just be buying one of the recommended bottles, which shall it be? I would always say that Asyla will step up to the mark and go with anything but it has some pretty gutsy favours to cope with here. For that reason, and because it is such an elegant but complex whisky with lots of character and always reminds me of a wonderful aceto balsamico (the best go through up to seven woods in production) I am recommending Auchentoshan’s Three Wood as my perfect broad bean whisky.

I buy most of my whiskies on line from The Whisky Exchange.