There is that occasional opportunity to experience a whisky evening that is above and beyond. Holly Seidewand of Gordon’s Fine Wines and Liquors, Kelly McCarthy of Anchor Distilling Co and Jonathan Schick and Eli Shapiro of the Rail Stop Restaurant and Bar combined their talents and products for a spectacular dining and Kavalan whisky tasting event last week. Really, how often does one taste six high end expressions from one distiller with exquisite pairings?
Kavalan Whisky – the star of the show – is fairly new to the whisky world and from an unexpected region…Taiwan. Check out their website for more information. Try their whisky if you can.
Ok, enough gushing….here are the details.The group of about 28 guests were welcomed with a Kavalan private bottling for Gordon’s (liquor and wines shops located in the Boston area), aptly called the “Symphony”…after the Kavalan Soloist editions. And what a nice beginning it was. The Symphony is silky, vanilla nosed and on the palate with a hint of brine and finished with some fruit notes. A dram to ease us into the evening.
The order of the whisky was to go from dry to sweeter and all are cask strength. The first course, beautifully presented was a wild boar terrine with apricot, cranberry and pommery mustard. Paired with the Kavalan Fino, which showed raisins and sherry on the nose, followed by a subtle sherry palate.
The second course, a duck confit, pickled grapes and bitter greens was eaven more heavenly than the terrine. I was contemplating if there was a way I could gnaw on the duck leg and lick the plate. Oh wait, there was a whisky to pair with it! The Kavalan Manzanilla showed its big alcohol on the nose with some sugar cane and salt. The palate offered more salt, a hint of melon said someone, but I found a sweet burn of orange rind.
Between courses, Kelly and Holly spoke about Kavalan in general as well as the individual notes for each of the six whiskies. The pace of the evening gave the four guests at each table time to enjoy the food and converse about the whiskies.
The third course was a lamb lollipop, perfectly cooked to a medium rare and tender on the bone. Paired with the Kavalan Amontillado, I found my perfect combination. The Amontillado is more distinct than the Fino and Manzanilla. There is floral on the nose and a deep, rich color. I was surprised to find coconut and nuts on the palate along with some tobacco and earthiness. My way too soon empty glass spoke of lingering cinnamon.
And there was more to come. The Kavalan Moscatel was paired with a beautiful New York strip, potato, and roasted bone marrow butter. I found this dram sharp with fruit notes. The sweetness of the moscatel came through.
Dinner could not be complete without dessert, meaning (in my world) chocolate. Two chocolate French Macaroons were paired with the Kavalan Pedro Ximenez. Ahhh….deepest color with dancing pears and chocolate wafting their way across the tongue. A wonderful ending.
The rich food and the rich whiskies tried with all their might to overload the senses. At times they did, but I believe in the end I came out unscathed but completed satiated and with a new appreciation for Kavalan whiskies. The price of the Kavalan Rare Sherry Cask Expressions is not for every day purchasing. The range is from $414 to $584 locally. Egads and holy bat shxxt!
While there is not a poor whisky in the lot, I was able to distinguish preferences amongst them. I did break the bank and purchase one of each of my top three. From favorite to least fav ended up like this:
- Amontillado Sherry Cask
- Pedro Ximenez
- Gordon’s Symphony (only 1/3 the price)
An evening well spent is the understatement of the day. I raise a glass to those who plan and present high end whisky and dinner events. Thanks!