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Dram fine food and whisky matches

Eat | Drink | Explore

Ever tried scotch with sashimi or whisky with ice-cream? They may sound like strange bedfellows, but the increasing diversity in whisky means there's a perfect match for any food, says connoisseur Craig Patterson.

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Patterson, Adelaide-based business development manager for spirits company Diageo Australia, will host three whisky and food dinners at 2KW over the coming months, showcasing a range of Scottish whiskies alongside a menu designed by the restaurant’s head chef, Dan Lawrence.

“One of my passions is whisky, so I do collaborations with people like 2KW – it’s a very good way for me to work on my passion and get paid to do it,” Patterson says.

“I think you’ve got such a large diversity in whisky these days that you can really match any kind of flavour profile with any food you can find out there.”

Born in northern England, Patterson – who has a Scottish grandfather and lived in Edinburgh for some years himself – had his first taste of whisky early in life: “My mum and dad used to allow me to rub it on my gums when I had a toothache.”

He amassed extensive experience in the liquor industry running venues in Europe before settling in Australia six years ago, and enjoys hosting people at his home, introducing them to different whiskies at each meal.

Patterson uses seafood a lot in his food and whisky matches.

“I’ve had a lot of experience doing whisky with sashimi.

“If you look at the Scottish Lowlands, one of the main distilleries is Glenkinchie, which is referred to as the Edinburgh malt – it’s a very light and grassy style of whisky with a lot of citrus and a slight creamy finish. It goes really well with sashimi.

“You don’t want anything to overpower the food.”

One of his fondest memories is eating fresh oysters with smoky whisky at the Talisker distillery, on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, during a birthday celebration with his wife.

When it comes to sweet pairings, Patterson says Dalwhinnie, in the Scottish Highland, makes a perfect match.

“It produces one of my go-to whiskies – the 15-year-old. It has a smaller amount of peat and depth, but it has a honey sweetness to it and in the past I’ve matched it with crème brulees.”

Barrelling and regional variations both add different dynamics to whisky, with the increasing range of new-world whiskies from places such as Japan and Australia adding to the variety of styles available.

At the 2KW dinners, though, it will be Scottish whisky all the way.

The first event, on June 20, will see four full-bodied, peaty Talisker whiskies matched to four courses: oysters with Manhattan dressing, smoked eel pate with apple, bacon and horseradish, a mutton-lamb pie, and a chocolate cookie with muscatel and orange ice-cream.

On July 25, Patterson will host a Distiller Editions dinner, showcasing the different characteristics of five non-age-statement (NAS) whiskies from distilleries including Oban, Dalwhinnie and Cragganmore alongside dishes such as whole baked snapper, roast pork belly, and a smoked maple ice-cream and banana bread sandwich.

The final event, in August, will feature whiskies from Lagavulin, including a rare 25-year-old whisky released for the distillery’s 200th anniversary.

“There are only 12 in South Australia,” Patterson says. “It will be served on its own at the end of the meal.”

The dinners deliberately include some simpler dishes – such as Roquefort blue cheese and rye bread matched with a “very peaty and incredibly rich” 16-year-old Lagavulin – which seek to inspire guests to try whisky and food matching at home.

When it comes to how to drink your whisky, it’s largely a matter of personal preference. Patterson likes to add a little water.

“A splash of water can enhance the flavour of whisky. If a whisky is 40 per cent alcohol, we would bring it down to about 30 per cent by adding water. In lowering the abv (alcohol by volume), you do release more flavour.”

Diners are encouraged to drink water during the whisky dinners and advised not to top up between courses with beer and wine.

“It’s not about going out and being excessive with alcohol but enjoying the experience and ensuring the flavours are savoured.”

For more information about the 2KW whisky dinners, see its Facebook events page.

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