These days, most of us are familiar with food and wine pairings, or even food and beer, but enjoying whiskey with food has yet to have the same impact. Not so long ago, the late and great expert on Chinese cuisine Kenneth Lo remarked: “In Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, you will see well-heeled Chinese people at restaurant tables with several bottles of whiskey, drinking it as if they were table wine. Many believe that Scotch is a brand of British wine that should be swallowed by the glass.
good luck if you ever try. But British wine comparisons aside, whiskey is starting to pop up alongside food. And the idea of bringing the two together is one of the key elements of a month-long series of collaborative events between the Powers brand and local craft producers compiled to mark World Whiskey Day, which – like you you probably already know – is next Saturday, May 21st.
Joe Magowan, Powers brand ambassador and Irish whiskey developer for Dillon Bass, says all events promise to be eye-opening occasions. “A lot of people are just discovering how well whiskey goes with so many different things,” he says. “When it comes to wine, most know how to associate red with meat and white with fish. With whisky, however, it’s a bit different and a bit more exciting.
“I worked with all kinds of producers, experts in their field, to see what went well with the whisky. It’s a collaborative process, we think together and we discover all kinds of things. We usually have a good idea of what will work, but there is always the unexpected. It’s kind of fun and often people are surprised by the results.
The events began earlier this week with an exploration of the long-standing taste history between whiskey and coffee, co-hosted by Joe and Stephen Houston of Lucid Coffee Roasters.
“There’s a great synergy between whiskey and coffee,” Joe explains, “and Powers has always had a close relationship with hot beverages.”
The whiskey brand recently launched a campaign to find a new twist on the much-loved Irish coffee recipe, which resulted in some interesting innovations that were so good they ended up on drink lists and cocktail menus. . One of Joe’s favorite Irish coffee memories was at a bar in Dublin where he was served one with a sprinkle of Terry’s Chocolate Orange on top. “It was great – citrus and whiskey go naturally together,” he says.
His go-to recipe for Irish coffee consists of 35ml of Powers Gold Label and 15ml of demerara syrup added to 75ml of freshly brewed coffee and topped with 200ml of double cream. He suggests crumbled honeycomb as an equally tempting alternative to a chocolate orange dusting.
And it’s chocolate that takes center stage at today’s event when Joe joins Dorothy and Shane Neary of NearyNógs chocolatiers in Kilkeel to explore how the crafts of whiskey and chocolate making complement each other . As for pairings, “with chocolate, you’re looking for a rich, dark variety with maybe 80-85% cocoa,” says Joe. “A sea salt flavored chocolate goes really well with Powers.”
Also on the agenda this month is a visit to Bullhouse Brew Co on Newtownards Road in Belfast, when Joe and brewer William Mayne host a beer and whiskey tasting. “Pairing whiskey and beer together might seem like a strange idea, but again maybe not when you think of the pint-and-a-half tradition – we’re just taking that and exploring it further,” says Joe, himself. remembering a session where Powers Gold Label, a rich, smooth whiskey, was paired with a red ale, and the result “reminded us very strongly of a Nutty Krust bread”.
The latest pairing event combines whiskey and cheese, when Joe is joined by Mike Thomson, the man behind the phenomenal success of Young Buck and Mike’s Fancy Cheese shop in Belfast city centre.
Powers has been enthusiastically promoting the joys of pairing whiskey with cheese for some time and, based on his experience in previous sessions, Joe recommends a special edition slice of Young Buck with Powers Three Swallow – “the rich, tropical, salty and spicy go very well with the creamy, spicy and floral flavor profile of Powers” – or taste the Ballylisk Triple Rose cream cheese from Armagh which “pairs beautifully” with Powers Gold Label.
Events continue until the end of the month, when the finale is a whiskey dinner at Deer’s Head in Belfast.
If you’ve never considered pairing whiskey with food, these sessions might just spark a new fascination. Even a whiskey expert like Joe admits he’s still learning new things about how the two can complement each other. Now you join your own journey of discovery.
Full details of all events at powerwhiskeyni.com/wwd22