Easter is a time when we traditionally remind ourselves that Linkwood goes best with Maltesers and honeycomb and Ardbeg with mint chocolate. And Easter wouldn’t be the same without the annual hunt for the best pairing to bring out the best in your rabbits and truffles.
A good malt whisky used to be paired only with a deep armchair and a fat cigar, and for the purists, it’s still unacceptable to pair some whiskies with water. But now it’s recommended to get rid of the soda siphon and the La Aroma De Cuba Mi Amora and replace them with some 64% single-origin Madagascan chocolate.
Now whiskies are being made to complement tapas. Traditional tasting notes are now coming with food suggestions.
And at Easter, chocolate pairings.
Laphroaig 10-year-old goes well with peppermint chocolate, Glenfiddich 12-year-old with almonds and raisins, a rich Balvenie with dark chocolate and ginger, caramel milk chocolate with a sea whisky like Old Pulteney.
Heavily peated whiskies like Islay’s Lagavulin 16 -year-old are complemented by creamy, sugary salted butter caramel chocolates. A Dalmore 12- year-old is recommended with hazelnuts. Glenmorangie pairs perfectly with maple and pecan and Glenfarclas 15-year-old with white chocolate. Johnnie Walker Red label is great in hot chocolate.
If you like to have more chocolate than whisky, Cocoa Mountain, based in Sutherland in north Scotland, has a Whisky Toffee Collection which includes whisky caramel cappuccino.
Denmark’s Anthon Berg has been making chocolate bottles filled with a syrup made from some of the most exclusive single malt Scotch whiskies since 1923. These include The Singleton, Dalwhinnie, Oban, Talisker and Lagavulin.
Scottish brewers Innis & Gunn are offering pairings with Paul A. Young chocolates – lager beer with kalamansi truffle, golden beer with sea salted caramel, Caribbean rum cask matured Scottish reed beer with spiced crème brûlée truffle, and a 15-year-old Speyside single malt whisky cask matured imperial stout with water ganache 80% Colombian dark chocolate truffle.
But if you are a sweet-toothed whisky person, Chocisky, based in Ross-shire, Scotland, makes it easy for you with a range of whisky chocolates including Lowland Whisky chocolate, Japanese Whisky chocolate, Speyside, Highland and Islay Whisky chocolates.
For the sweet-toothed and malt-palates, there is also the first alcoholic Easter egg for adults. Packaged inside a glass egg, the 25% ABV £29.99 Egg Royale is a rich chocolate cream liqueur made from cocoa and vanilla and blended with real cream from Holland “where the cows are at their happiest.”
Wormtub (a Speyside liquid named after a piece of distilling equipment) and Darkness (Scotch whisky matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in Oloroso sherry octave casks) are recommended by www.masterofmalt.com. As is Rubis Spanish Tempranillo chocolate-flavoured wine.
Swiss chocolatiers Lindor/Lindt recommend Australian Shiraz with their 70% EXCELLENCE and a Malbec with the 90%. While a Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect with Lindt EXCELLENCE Mint Intense.
Jeremy Lithgow, Amathus Drinks Master of Wine, recommends pairing lamb with Chateau Haut de la Becade Pauillac 2011 and Elk Cove Williamette Valley Pinor Noir. Or with nut roasts, Chateau de Manissy Lirac Rouge.
And Calem LBV Port 2016 as the perfect pairing for Easter eggs. But the Home Counties complement Belgian and Swiss produce too.
Gusbourne’s Master Sommelier, Laura Rhys, suggests their Rosé 2018 Vintage. It matches beautifully with a simple roasted spring lamb loin, and rhubarb trifle with whipped cream.
Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appears worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.
Photographs courtesy of Lindt and Gravity Drinks