My cooking has always been seasonal, with dishes dictated not only by what is in the fridge but what comes in the veg box, is ready at the community garden or is best in season from around the world. What would January be without Seville oranges, for marmalade and for other dishes too?
Winter is probably the season when most whisky is drunk, the natural time to appreciate its rich and warming characteristics. With pork and beef a welcome change from the Christmas turkey left-overs and root vegetables, dark green leafy veg such as kale and watercress, and citrus fruits all at their best, this is a time of year to be inspired in the kitchen. Pulse vegetables and generous seasonings of herbs and spices all make for satisfying and warming dishes, so let’s find some whiskies to go with them.
This is a brief introduction to my Winter Whisky Collection and there will be more detail about each one in the next few weeks.
Dalwhinnie are, I believe, the first of the Scotch whisky distilleries in recent times to introduce a seasonal whisky in Winter’s Gold. It is sweet with hints of spice and the merest suggestion of smoke but the USP (unique selling point) for this dram is that it has been created to serve straight from the freezer. Definitely different.
A D Rattray’s Whisky Experience shop in Kirkoswald on the coast of Ayrshire is a whiskophile’s (I might have made that up?) dream. Their house single malt is real value for money and, more importantly, a delicious dram. It’s a 10yo Speyside exclusive bottling and, tenuously, makes it into my Winter Whiskies as Ayrshire is the birthplace of Robbie Burns, the much loved Scottish national poet. Burns birthday is celebrated throughout the world by ex-pats and whisky lovers on January 25th - doubtless you might be raising a dram or two on that night?
Glenfarclas produces old-school Speyside whiskies, matured in sherry casks with all the rich deep flavours of spicy dried fruits, citrus and soft tannins that you would expect. It amazes me how the 15yo that is in my Winter Collection goes just as well with the rich savouriness of slow-cooked beef dishes as it does with the refreshing fruitiness of winter compôtes. A must-have winter whisky.
I am a great fan of blended whiskies and I have included two in this seasonal selection. The first is the no-age statement Spice King from Wemyss Malts. There is almost a blush about the spirit and it reminds me of spicy plums, hugely fruity on the nose and with rich but not over-powering spice and a touch of smoke, like the suggestion of an open fire. That sounds sweet but this whisky has hints of salt about it: intriguing.
My final selection is from Compass Box who, in their Great King Street range, are creating contemporary takes on traditional whisky styles. The Glasgow Blend illustrates the city’s complex character, it’s cultural heritage, camaraderie and somewhat brooding (but beautiful) Victorian architecture. Glaswegians have always enjoyed fuller-bodied drams and the Glasgow Blend is a great tribute to them.
I’ll be unpacking these whiskies in more detail with recipe suggestions for each one and so, if you love your food and whisky, why not subscribe to this blog in your RSS reader of choice so that you don't miss any of the posts? Alternatively you can receive email notification of new posts by filling in you email address in the box on the Welcome page.
Which whisky do you think will go best with this dish of kale, chick peas, chilli, garlic and toasted pine nuts?