Fine Living | Need To Now

Tasting the distilled essence of Scotland

This food pairing event is a real draw for whisky-lovers

Tasting the distilled essence of Scotland

October 04 2011
Lindsay Macpherson

The Athenaeum hotel is already a whisky-lover’s utopia, boasting not only a Whisky Bar stocked with more than 270 whiskies, but also a dedicated whisky sommelier – one of only two in London. But now the Mayfair hotel has gone even further, débuting a winter calendar of whisky and food pairing events, each in partnership with a different distillery.

The first instalment is hosted by Diageo’s in-house Master of Whisky, Roger Mallindine, and is set to celebrate Dewar’s Aberfeldy – a Highland distillery situated at the meeting point of Scotland’s longest glen, highest mountain and deepest loch. The carefully researched, Scottish-sourced menu includes chicken liver parfait (paired with a specially created Athenaeum Whisky Sour), timbale of Shetland smoked salmon, and a roast Scottish rib eye of beef – as well as the requisite haggis, neeps and tatties. Even dessert, a honey and rosemary ice cream with poached rhubarb, is part of the food pairing and comes with a rich, golden-toned Aberfeldy 21-year-old. A similarly matched vegetarian menu is available on request (but don’t expect the same tolerance from Mallindine should you ask for an ice cube or, heaven forbid, some cola, with your whisky).

The series continues with three other dates: one with Balvenie distillery – the sister of Glenfiddich – and another with David Frewin of Macallan. But the real draw for whisky connoisseurs is likely to be the event in March, which is an evening with Dalmore’s renowned master blender Richard Paterson, whose legendary nose for a dram has become so valuable that it is insured with Lloyd’s of London for £1.5m.