If I had a thousand sons, the first human principle I would teach them, should be to foreswear potations, and to devote themselves to Sherry – Shakespeare
The world has had a great admiration for Sherry in its truest form, with admirers like shakespeare.
By the end of the 16th century, sherry had a reputation in Europe as the world’s finest wine, the glory albeit was not everlasting.
The era of 1970 and beyond saw this franchise as starting to decline, reducing the demand drastically.
There is one industry notwithstanding all these pressures that continues its lust with this magnificence thats called Sherry, the ever so innovative whisky industry. Well, its not the fortified wine but the casks which previously held the Sherry that whisky markers are seeking after, despite it being nearly ten times the price of a bourbon cask !
So why is it so superlative, the lovers, connoisseurs just adore the combine of a good whisky with the signature key notes in a sherry, rich dried fruits, spices, caramel, christmas cake, basically very sherry wood.
Its not out of nothing that many of the recent significant & premium launches have been supported with this cask intervention. The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 was named as the world’s best whisky by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015. In addition few new launches were, The Bunnahabhain 16YO – Manzilla Sherry wood finish, The Hielan by GlenDronach, The Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve – All first fill Sherry cask, Balvenie’s The Single barrel Sherry cask 15YO to name a few.
Yet, when brands drop their age claims and shift the focus towards cask editions, ordinarily, we as consumers look at these moves with deception, as if its the perfect cover up for a task un done. I’ve said this before as well, we’ve come of age, where maturation needs to be looked upon beyond just a number.
Recently, I got the chance to taste and appreciate the Black Dog – Triple Gold Reserve. A brand that boasts of triple maturation, with the third maturation being in a sherry cask, for the extra depth in character. Really ! That simple? not quite is my answer.
The fact is, until double maturation life is quite similar, as is in the case of a standard blend, say Black Dog Centenary.
In the case of Triple Gold Reserve, this process gets a bit more considered. You have the aged malt in Bourbon casks, you have the aged grain scotch whiskies. These scotch whiskies are married during the process of blending and once again, they are matured in casks which had originally held Oloroso sherry casks.
Let me tell you what is the enchantment about this, when you hear about a Bottled in India Scotch joining the league, its about a lot of things. An attempt by a brand to shift the current consumer’s understanding, taking him into the complicated realms of casks and their flavours. In my eyes, its a bold first from the category, since its almost as if the brand is shouldering the responsibility of evolving the current consumer set.
But In matters such as these food makes a charming interlude. With the whisky in question it can bring out the flavour aspects so beautifully that deciphering the flavour gets a lot more simpler.
To deconstruct whiskies and their flavours I often use the aid of uncomplicated foods, doing this in smaller groups with whiskies and canapés is as gratifying.
So in this tasting I took a plunge and moved out from a 30 group whisky pairing experience to one where we intensely savoured our morsels among 80 people with the whisky appreciation. This was to understand the impact of the Sherry maturation in Black Dog Triple Gold Reserve.
I have to confess, I relished the way our tasting room got transformed by people eager to share their understanding of flavours, their chatter, pouring of liquid, sound of plates. With the intensity of flavours and a task of explaining, where it emerges from, it was essential to keep these pairings humble yet fulfilling to the purpose.
So here’s how we did it and why,
Most of my preferred pairings with a whisky which has been previously matured in a Sherry cask are ones which dwindle in the zone of being either complementing, for bringing out something wholesome out of the combine or a like to like combination so that each of the flavours in both the whisky and the food gets enhanced. The two pairings have been of a similar nature.
CARAMELISED LAMB, RED WINE PEARS, SUNDRIED TOMATOES with BLACK DOG TRIPLE GOLD RESERVE
This canapé is which when paired with BD-TGR makes each flavour on either side stand out. The red wine pears and the caramelised lamb at first enhance the sweetness on the palate when combined with the scotch, its almost as if there is a syrupy goodness to the union. Its however the lamb which brings out the balance, drying it out a bit, with the tomatoes adding a mild tang leaving you with a hint of the spice, emanating from the whisky, in your mouth as an after taste.
2. GOAT CHEESE, RED ONION TARTS, SCALLION & WALNUTS with BLACK DOG TRIPLE GOLD RESERVE
You would quite like this one for the diversity of flavours you feel instantly. The creamy goat cheese feels salty when rolled over with the whisky atop, an addition of red onion makes the combination sweet and enhances the inherent honey sweetness, you then get a burst of the whisky led vanilla, butterscotch, hints of peaches, suddenly cut short by the dryness of the near powder like bites of the walnuts.
Power of flavours comes to life in no better way !
(canapés courtesy Radisson Nagpur)