On Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending an exclusive dinner at Black Bar and Grill hosted by Matt Preston, an award-winning food journalist. Each of the four courses was paired with premium Johnnie Walker whiskies.
The menu was designed by head chef, Dany Karam, to enhance flavours of the whiskies. This amazing Johnnie Walker experience included some rare drams including the John Walker. Let’s have a look at how the whiskies faired against each other and when paired with wonderful courses.
Whisky cured ocean trout, smoked crème fraiche and potato blinis. Also, freshly shucked oysters were paired with Johnnie Walker 18.
The Johnnie Walker 18 brings very good balance between sweetness and spice. There is fruity and vanilla sweetness which is in great harmony with cinnamon notes. When paired with oysters the smoky notes were hidden come to the fore to bring amazing balance.
I give this combination an 8/10.
Honey glazed and roasted duck breast with fennel chutney, carrots and pepper sauce was paired with the luxurious Johnnie Walker Odyssey.
This was one hell of an entrée and pairing. The crackling on the duck, the touching sweetness from the chutney and the spice from the pepper sauce was a harmony of east meets west. But does the Johnnie Walker Odyssey deliver on the $1,200 price tag? Yes and no.
There is no doubting the complexity of this whisky. There is fruity sweetness with raisins coming to mind, there is spice and nuttiness and gliding smoke and even hint of dark chocolates. I found the spices coming to the fore when combined with this entrée. So if you are a lover of spice based whiskies this is certainly a winner.
I give this combination an 8/10.
Wood-grilled striploin Angus, smoked potato, asparagus, charred onion and bone marrow sauce paired with Johnnie Walker King George V.
Hands down the highlight course with the meat cooked to perfection and the sweetness of the sauce colliding beautifully with the smokiness of other elements. Even the whisky pairing was spectacular.
The Johnnie Walker King George V gifts the taste buds with smokiness, dark chocolate and some cloves for good measure. When paired with the Angus it introduces a touch of oiliness and the charred onions and potatoes bring forward a new profile in the form of fruity sweetness. A yes to complexity and big yes for balance.
I give this combination a solid 9/10
Bread and butter pudding with chocolate and orange sorbet. This was paired with the rare John Walker.
The John Walker was crafted in honour of its founder John Walker. This blend contains whiskies from closed distilleries and has been finished a 100-year-old cask. To add further prestige only 330 bottles were produced. All this could be yours if you have a spare $4-5k!
Being a whisky tragic it was a delight to taste this gem. There are some wonderful bitter spice notes such as cloves and cardamom which is balanced by honey and vanilla gliding by throughout the tasting. But, it certainly does not taste like a whisky of this price (I am not sure what a $5,000 whisky should taste like to justify the price).
Having said all that this is a collector’s item and its packaging and bottling certainly exudes prestige. Each bottle is individually numbered and presented in a hand-blown premium crystal decanter.
Overall, this combination I rate as 7.5/10. For presentation and prestige of the John Walker, I give a 9/10.
It was a wonderful night full of culinary delight and a lesson in pairing some wonderful whiskies with food. If there is one thing I took out of the night it is this – the most affordable whisky of the night, The Johnnie Walker 18 year old holds its own and is a great value for money buy. There is hope yet!
Check out more Whisky articles from Pranil.