'The light music of whisky falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude.'
Such beautiful words from Irish poet and novelist, James Joyce, in his book of short stories make the drinking of whisky sound so romantic, don't you agree?
Recently, I asked some of my friends and Facebook followers to tell me about their experiences with whisky and here's what they said:
At the end of May this year, Peter and I were fortunate enough to be invited to Whisky Live, which was held at the University of Canberra Refectory. Whisky Live is 'an international celebration of whisky', that brings together the whiskies of the world in one venue. The event showcases the finest whiskies, and features entertainment and educational sessions, which makes learning about whisky both fun and stimulating. It offers a unique opportunity to meet the producers and distillers, as well as marketers, while tasting a wide range of whiskies, including highly rare and sought-after labels.
Held worldwide, this was the second Whisky Live event held in Canberra, the first in 2013 at the Albert Hall with renowned whisky chef, Martine Nouet as the host. Among the whiskies showcased were Amrut Single Malt made from malted barley grown in the foothills of the Himalayas; Bowmore Single Malt from Islay; Elmer T Lee Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; Glen Grant 17 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky; Glenrothes Vintage 1998; Hellyers Road Tasmanian Peated Single Malt; Hudson Manhattan Rye from New York; Lark Single Malt; Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky from Speyside; and Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon.
I've come away from these exceptionally well-organised and thoroughly enjoyable events with the notion that whisky fanciers are good folk who know how to enjoy the good things in life. I asked Ken Bromfield from Whisky Live Australia if he was happy with attendances in Canberra. 'I'm very pleased with Canberra's second Whisky Live, which saw strong growth in attendees on last year. This has showed me that there is indeed a good whisky culture developing. I trust attendees enjoyed the event and I looking forward to planning Whisky Live Canberra 2015,' he explained. Well, that's great news!
Here are my postcards from the event, but first a few morsels and an indulgent recipe or two...
Hot buttered whisky a la Kremlin Bar...
I met Nick Tuckwell (pictured below) at Whisky Live. Nick is one of the owners of the popular Kremlin Bar in Canberra city. Peter and I became very good friends with Nick rather quickly, as he was making nips of the MOST delicious hot buttered whisky! This is a warming and rather divine combination of whisky, spices and butter (see my lead photo). Nick's recipe appears below. Enjoy!
HOT BUTTERED WHISKY
'A piece' of butter (1-2 teaspoons)
'A dash' of Angostura bitters (several drops)
20mls spice syrup (see below)
60ml (double shot) whisky
90ml cloudy apple juice
nutmeg, to grate over top
Melt the butter in a frypan, add a dash of Angostura bitters, together with the spice syrup and whisky. Warm the mixture through, then light it (with care!). Allow the ingredients to bubble and caramelise. Put the fire out with the cloudy apple juice. Pour the liquids into a jug, then into small tea cups or whisky glasses. Grate fresh nutmeg over the top and serve. Makes 2.
BIZZY LIZZY'S SPICE SYRUP
2/3 cup vanilla-infused caster sugar
1/3 cup water
1-2 teaspoons mixed mulling spices*: allspice berries, cassia bark, ginger, orange peel, cinnamon quills, cloves, vanilla
*Combine the pieces of mulling spice mix in a heat proof spice egg or tea infuser. Bring the water to the boil in a small saucepan and pop the spice egg or tea infuser with the spices into the water. Add the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon just until it dissolves. Remove from the heat. Set aside and allow the syrup to cool. Remove the spice egg/infuser. Store in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator (it will keep for several weeks). (Note, I used Herbie's Mulling Spices).
Whisky and oysters...
Have you ever tried pairing whisky and oysters? Oyster farmer, Shane Buckley, from Wapengo Rocks near Bermagui was at Whisky Live in Canberra, offering tastings of freshly shucked oysters. In terms of whisky and oysters, Shane says: 'What you do is select your whisky then load up your senses with it. Big deep breaths in through your nose smelling the whisky, then when you have smelled it until you can taste it, take a sip of the whisky and swallow it. Then eat the oyster making sure to chew it up and get the flavours permeating your mouth. This mixes the whisky flavour with the oyster flavour, then as you swallow the oyster take another sip of the whisky to wash it down and then just enjoy. Yum!
More of the fabulous food at Whisky Live in Canberra...
The feast at Whisky Live in Canberra was prepared by Dinesh Kumar, UC head chef and manager. The menu included oysters; shavings of Brix chocolate; a range of locally produced cheeses; chicken satay sticks; arancini balls; slow cooked lamb sliced into cutlets and served with a fresh bread roll; fish and chip baskets; vegetable filled sushi rolls; mini quiches and pies; as well as plenty of fresh fruit salad. The lamb was outstanding!
On the pairing of the slow-cooked lamb with the whiskies, Ken Bromfield explained to me: 'Generally meaty flavours go well with whisky and as the lamb was slow cooked it was not browned, letting the umami flavours come to the fore. Although, I think generally quite flavoursome foods pair best with whisky, strong caramelised meat flavour overpowers whisky flavours. Also, I thought having the live meat station would appeal to the carnivore inside us. Something a bit 'primal' to go with the whisky. It seemed to hit the spot.'
Chef and manager at UC, Dinesh Kumar (right) with his sous chef...
Postcards (and people) - Whisky Live in Canberra 2014...
And just a few more...
Note: Good Things attended this event in Canberra as a guest of Whisky Live Australia. The opinions expressed here are honest and reflect the true vibe of the event. If you'd like to be kept informed about Whisky Live in Australia, subscribe here.
Tell me dear readers, have you ever attended a Whisky Live event in your part of the world? Do you enjoy whisky/whiskey? Do you cook with it? What's your favourite way of imbibing?
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.