26
Jul 10

Cheese and Whisky Tasting Science 2010

Pumpkin Publog1 comment • 925 views

FT’s resident cheese expert Marna held a cheese and whisky tasting last Friday night. As ever with booze-blogging, some details and opinions below may be slightly ‘inaccurate’.

1. Royal Lochnagar 12 yo + Gorwydd’s Caerphilly (Cheesy Lover #88)

“Oh Crumbs!” says Sarah about the Caerphilly. “It absorbs all taste of whisky that’s just gone in my mouth. Once it’s finished face-punching the whisky, it tastes nice.” Juliet agrees: “the cheese smacks whisky out of the park”. Ewan is unsure of the rind.

Kerry says the whisky is very smooth and creamy, almost vanilla and cinammon-y. Katie thinks it tastes like artificial sweeteners rather than sugar, Pete G says there’s a bit of a herbal note, to which random shouting breaks out: “Pear!” “Shrub!” “WHEN CHEESE GOES WILD!”

Kat doesn’t like the Lochnagar but thinks the cheese is good – fatty and crumbly. Rick says the whisky is quite drinkable but not very exciting, Katie thinks it tastes sweet after the cheese. Marna doesn’t like it very much at all, but Mark thinks everyone is being a bit mean about it (“it would go down easily for quite a long time”). Ewan has read a children’s book called the Old Man Of Lochnagar [see left]. Mark suspects the Old Man of Lochnagar drinks whisky all day long.

Marna responds to queries concerning the whereabouts of the remaining Kraft Cheese Slices left over from April with narrowed eyes and scowled mutterings about ‘the bin’.

2. Glenrothes 13yo + 2 goat cheeses: Stawley (geo rind, CL #27) + Sleightly (ash rind, yet to be reviewed)

The Glenrothes has a rather strong whiff. “This one comes to meet you!” exclaims Mark. “Sticky toffee pudding”, says Kerry. Rick says it’s like banana toffee, but not in an aggressive banana cake way (Rick does not like banana cake as he is a FULE).

Most agree that the Stawley makes the whisky taste bitterer, and not in a good way. Pete G: “the geo and whisky combination tastes like vom – surprisingly unpleasant.” Sarah says it tastes congealed, “like that cocktail with baileys in that curdles”. However Roswell the cat likes the Stawley – she is licking it and her tail is swishing. This may be because Roswell has not drunk any of the whisky with it.

The Slately fares much better: “sharper”, “makes your tongue fizz”, “lots of gentle flowers that you cannot taste because you’ve just drunk some whisky”. Sarah and Katie say the Slately is delicious: “it tastes like A FOREST by the Cure!”

Katie does a burp and announces that it tastes of goats cheese, to general approval of the room.

3. Bowmore Dusk + Cardo (washed rind toffee, CL #26)

This whisky is an old favourite of many present, and we are very sad that they have stopped making it. There’s not much left as a lot of it was drunk last New Year’s Eve. Kat didn’t like whisky at all before she tried this last year. Katie says it’s “like a finger of fudge that has been smoked like a kipper”. Mark says it is “clinical and lovely, like a hospital”. Rick agrees that it smells more hospital-y than when he first opened it. “It tastes sharp but there’s a real thickness to this whisky.”

Katie doesn’t like the cheese, but “the whisky is very good at taking away the taste of it”. Sarah pronounces the rind on the Cardo “amazing, quite different from the rest of the cheese”. She doesn’t want to describe it as sparkly as that would be confirmation that she is in hock to a certain vampire franchise, however there are definitely seaside sandy bits. “It’s texturally like the powder that’s left in the bottom of the pork scratching bag.”

Ewan is getting flashbacks from New Year’s Eve, when he helped deplete the contents of the bottle with some rather unsavoury after-effects.

The Cardo is proving rather ‘potent’, however Rick says the Bowmore “stomps all over the cheese, which is a good thing”. Pete G makes the first mention of the word ‘mouthfeel’ and wins 10 ponce points: “The cheese is a creamy coating for the mouth, and the whisky cuts through it – a pleasant sensation”.

Robin makes bad pun about ‘peat’ and ‘Pete’.

4. Ledaig 10 yo + Isle of Mull Cheddar (CL #77)

There’s a general consternation in the room – this whisky smells of cheese already! Smoked Austrian cheese, to be specific. Could this be the mythical Sausage Cheese? No, it’s a cheddar!

“Bloody hell!”, Rick says about the Ledaig. “It goes FLUMP in the back of the mouth after a bit; it tastes sharp after the Bowmore Dusk.” Katie disagrees and thinks it tastes ‘phat’. “The whisky doesn’t taste anything like it smells – it’s delicious and mellow when you drink it.” Mark says “there’s something spectral about this – it’s insubstantial but not in a bad way. There’s a bit of a burnt taste, like ashes.” Sarah says this is the first whisky she can swill round her mouth without it burning. She tries to anthropomorphise the whisky: “if it was a pop star it would be The Nolans”.

Juliet thinks the whisky and cheese go well together, doop thinks that the cheese sets off something different about the whisky that isn’t there separately. Katie finds Rick amusing after he says his tongue has been Activated. Pete B asks if everyone’s getting a lot of saliva.

The room takes a roast potato break and there is talk about ocelots.

5. Springbank Claret Wood 12 yo + L’Etivaz (CL #90)

This whisky overwhelms everyone at first as it’s a bit strong. “Woooph!”, “orange blossom, very fruity”. doop can’t help but think of his chemistry teacher when he smells this. “It clears your head in an anti-chlorophorm way.”

Mark declares that it tastes of biscuits. Any specific biscuit? “ALL biscuits!” Katie wonders whether the claret business is making it go well with cheese. Rick replies that it’s a bit woody and oaky, but mainly in the aroma rather than the taste. Pete G adds that there’s a bit of spicy vanilla that you might associate with wine. All agree that adding a bit of water changes it dramatically.

The L’Etivaz is pronounced “bloody lovely, om nom nom!” It is indeed a lovely cheese. Is the rind edible? Marna doesn’t think it’s worth eating but everyone does anyway. Rick says it’s like oatcakes.

Popstar comparison: Marillion (with Fish) – bombast, trying very hard, lot of stuff going on, high peaks and low troughs. Sarah however doesn’t think the cheese is as good as “Kayleigh”.

The general cheese/whisky combination is thought to be tick vg thumbs up (“good cheese, good whisky, good cheese and whisky”). The dryness of the whisky is complemented well by the cheese.

6. Caol Ila 18yo + 2-beast barrel aged Feta (yet to be reviewed)

Mark says the Caol Ila smells of paper: “Lovely, lovely cardboard.” Kat can’t smell anything until she puts her nose right in it and goes “URGH”. doop also says paper, Marna says “parchmenty mouthfeel” for even more ponce points. “It’s slightly greasy.”

Rick sniggers: “I’ll tell you what, that’s bloody lovely in the mouth.” Sarah feels like she’s had 50 cigarettes but hasn’t watered it down yet. Katie has watered hers down too much, her mathematical skill is called into question by Mark and Rick.

All agree that the feta might be a bit strong for the whisky, Kat likes it a lot though. Popstar comparison: Sly and the Family Stone – “a lot of the time they are quite boring.”

Pete says something that provokes all to put him in the bin (not sure which Pete this refers to or what the bin-worthy utterance was).

7. Laphroaig 10 yo + Persillé de Malzieu (CL #13)

Some tasters are doing Crazy Frog impressions. This is the classic ‘smells like TCP’ whisky.

“This cheese is a really salty sea-cheese.” doop says it tastes more like the sea than the sea does, and not just any sea: “the Mediterranean!” Katie says the cheese makes the whisky tastes like Ribena (or possibly Robinsons fruit juice), and that it is the cheese that’s burning on the way down, not the whisky. “It’s not a cheese, it’s a health hazard!” She wouldn’t eat it for pleasure. Mark asks if she would eat it for a bet?

The cheese has made Robin’s tongue go numb, Ewan says it’s the only cheese that could make Laphroaig taste bland. Pete B says that the cheese has the saliva producing effect of szechuan pepper. Sarah says it’s all happening around the epiglottis, or possibly the glockenspiel, and that there’s an incredibly bitter aftertaste.

Herb watch: Rick says the cheese makes the whisky tastes like rosemary, Pete G thinks lavender, Marna thinks thyme. We all nod sagely.

Marna is having trouble cutting the cheese in to proper pieces; everyone else is having trouble forming proper sentences.

The formal whisky and cheese pairing ends and havoc ensues, namely dipping cheesy wotsits into glasses of Japanese whisky (“it tastes like raspberries”), waving bits of M&S cranberry stilton and Babybel around and listening to The Best Prog Rock Album In The World… Ever!, which is found to be mostly about bvmming.

CONCLUSION: Pairing cheeses and whiskies is quite difficult unless the cheese is hard and cheddar-like and the whisky isn’t utterly insane.

Comments

  1. 1
    Katie but logged out on 27 Jul 2010 #

    Herb watch: Rick says the cheese makes the whisky tastes like rosemary, Pete G thinks lavender, Marna thinks thyme. We all nod sagely.

    Oh goooooooooooooooodddd… Nice write-up, there!

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