Whisky and Cheese Tasting
Stamford Plaza Circular Quay
April 25, 2018
Wine and cheese.
Natural companions whose strengths of flavors cross-pollinate and complement each other.
Now, sommeliers might recoil but pairing Whisky and food pairing is on the up.
A contradiction per se?
A recent Whisky & Cheese Tasting organized by the heads behind Alchemist Events proved quite the opposite.
The evening started off with a bit of education on cheese at large by international cheese expert Claudia Bowman, who framed the evening by giving an overview about the nature of the dairy product.
An MC extraordinaire, Claudia has mastered the art of engaging the participants in an entertaining yet sophisticated manner with more than superficial fun facts without getting too technical.
The myriad of ways to describe, organize and classify cheese were shed light on, including texture, milk type, place of origin, standards of identify, milk production / treatment and source, methods of coagulation and ripening.
Made from pasteurized goat’s milk, the soft, artisan Meredith Ash Goat Cheese from Victoria opened the proceedings.
What hit the palate was an ash-coated chevre that not only looked great on the plate, but also knew to convince with a mélange of crisp and creamy flavours.
Holy Goat from Castlemaine followed, a handmade one based on the traditional French soft curd style using slow lactic acid fermentation, which upped the flavour game.
Enter David Ligoff.
A man that oozes passion for all things whisky.
Founder of World of Whisky, the man owns the only specialist whisky store in Australia, as well as the curator of The Whisky Show, which in just three years has become the largest whisky show down under.
Unpretentious, knowledgeable and witty are the adjectives that come to mind if one had to describe how David, the conferencier, delved into covering the key aspects of whisky educations: The history of whisky, how whisky is made including the subtleties of production and maturation, pointing out the differences between various types, the effect of different casks and techniques for creating and enhancing flavour, and giving advice on how to best to appreciate the water of life as well as why wood and time are vitally important.
His elaborations allowed access to his insight and knowledge on how to explore whisky at a foundational level.
After David’s introduction on whisky, we looked across the Indian Ocean with Amrut being the first drop that was introduced.
With its nose of nuts, honeycomb, fruit and oak, I found it to be a great companion for the more firm textured cheeses of the evening, e.g. Ptengana Cloth Bound Cheddar from Tasmania, with its aromas of herbs and honey.
A 12-year-old oak and sherry cask matured Aberlour, with a body that balanced hints of sweet raisings and cherry, found its cheese equivalent in the creamy Camembert AOC, from the Normandie and the melt-in-the-mouth Stilton from Shropshire in the UK with the trademark pale yellow interior and blue-green veins, cultivated by the addition of the penicilium rogueforti.
Now, I for one love a peaty whisky and having a decade old Laphroaig is never not a joyful occasion. Needless to say that it lends itself perfectly well to go alongside a smokey cheese as it brings an added edge.
However, after adding a couple of droplets of water via employing the services of a pipette, and thereby activate more flavours, I found it to go well with most of the cheesy bits on offer.
An educational and inspiring evening that offered something for both – connoisseurs as well as the uninitiated, which the before and after chatter with confirmed as feedback indicated that no one left the soiree without having discovered something – be in it liquid or dairy form – they would like to try more of in the future.
Photos by @k.a.vv