Chocolates have universal appeal. Eating chocolates causes the brain to release serotonin-- causing the same warm, fuzzy sensation experienced when falling in love and enhancing feelings of pleasure. And when coupled with whisky, the effect transcends every level of enjoyment. In spirit of the imminent Valentine’s Day, why not partake of this delightful combination and indulge your loved one too?
As you embark on the sensual journey here’s a guide to help you truly ignite your palate with whisky’s layered and nuanced notes and chocolate’s luscious richness. According to experts, a little sip of the liquor followed by a small bite of the chocolate enables the tongue to marry the two flavours at the same time. Another sip from a dram surprises the palate with new notes. It feels as if the chocolate opens up the taste buds to really taste the other complex layers.
Combining whisky and chocolate has been a closely guarded secret among the elite and executive classes. This is probably why whisky makers and distributors have encouraged the use of artisanal chocolates for enjoying premium single malts. One can, though, also try a variety of pairings with different chocolates flavours and types of whiskies. Here we bring to you classic examples of whisky and chocolate pairings that will help you organize your tasting event with your date.
With Dark Chocolate
The lingering bitterness of dark chocolate tastes better with the underlying sweetness of whisky. As a rule of thumb, dark chocolate goes very well with smooth and sweet whiskies. Bittersweet chocolates with medium-cocoa content of 60% to 70% cocoa taste divine with sweeter whiskies like Jameson Irish Whiskey. But, bold and smokier whiskies provide a better tasting experience. Dark chocolate with very high cocoa content, such as those from Dominican Republic, have a greater affinity toward whiskies like Caol Ila and Aberlour. Aberlour 18 year old’s flavours of juicy apples and oranges, vanilla, and raisins are enhanced brilliantly with the intensity of dark chocolate.
With Flavoured Dark Chocolate
Premium flavoured dark chocolates are the first choice for those who wish to explore more flavours in their whiskies. Evidently, complex whiskies can be paired best with these chocolates. However, you do need to know your whisky’s flavour profile to choose the right chocolate to pair it with. For instance, The Auchentoshan 12 year old goes well with the gentle citrus notes in Lindt’s Lime Intense Dark Chocolate. On the palate it has hints of sweet barley, tannins and vanilla. A sweeter whisky like Glenfarclas 10 year old contrasts well with Lindt’s Sea Salt Flavoured Dark Chocolate. Its palate is smoky and sweet, with hints of winter spices, fruitcake and toffee.
You can also try Scapa 16 Year Old with those dark chocolates flavoured with salted caramel. On the palate, the whisky is silky and full bodied, with notes of winter spices, oak, cut grasses, and acacia honey. The finish is long and smoky. The salty flavours in the chocolate enhances the different tastes in the tipple.
With Milk Chocolate
Sweet and rich milk chocolates can be paired with whiskies that have an oaky tasting note. Speyside malts, in general, have rich flavours of dried fruits that goes well with milk chocolates with nuts. Longmorn 16 year old is a classic single malt. This fresh and herbal smelling liquor’s palate is rich with a dry, leafy, spicy, and zesty notes. As it goes down, the finish is long and oaky. The nutty milk chocolate tastes best with the oakiness of the whisky.
If you are okay with spending a little extra, Milk Velvet Truffles from Highland Chocolatier’s Iain Burnett with The Glenlivet 15 year old is a must try. This rich and full-bodied dram has hints of cloves, cinnamon, and thick oak, and finishes with a long and dry peppery note.
With White Chocolate
Purists would not consider white chocolate to be real chocolate, because they only contain cocoa butter and no cocoa solids. But the smooth richness of the white chocolate provides a delicious contrast from the sharp and punchy bourbons, like Jim Beam Black. Its sweet vanilla flavours go well with smoky whiskies as well. You can try white chocolate with Blenders Pride Rare Premium Whisky. The sweetness of the chocolate cut through the earthy flavours of the whisky, elevating the overall experience.
Now that you have an idea about how to go about choosing your whisky-chocolate pair, have fun exploring what works for you! Initially tastes may not seem to match. But, as you let your sense feel deeper flavours and allow your palate to adjust to the contrasting tastes, you will enter a whole new world of tasting profiles and fall in love with them.