Thursday, October 4, 2007

Whisky and Cocktails

Whisky is perfectly usable in cocktails. I'm not a cocktail expert. But about a week ago I saw a recipe for a whisky-based cocktail on the BBC that really struck me as worth trying.
  • Infuse malt whisky with an Earl Grey teabag
  • add a bit of honey
  • add crushed ice
  • shake in a cocktail shaker
  • pour.
The guests on the show really seemed to appreciate it. As far as I could recognize the bottle, they used a Macallan fine oak.
Tonight I decided to try this cocktail, well at least to my best ability to recreate it, since I have no actual cocktail shaker. Earl Grey Tea I had plenty, and malt whisky as well. Lacking a Macallan Fine Oak in my bar I opted for the nearly finished anCnoc 12 year old I had. Acacia honey was easily found in the kitchen.
I chose not to add the ice, as to be able to fully enjoy the resulting aroma. Shaking was also not an option so I stirred. 007 would have my hind for this insult, but wasn't anywhere in sight and I had to make do anyway.
I dropped the bag in the whisky, and waited a few minutes. The Earl Grey was doing its work, the colour darkened to a deep amber, from afar the aroma of the tea was apparent. After adding honey and stirring it, I nosed. The nose was mostly the floral and fruity Earl Grey, it greatly masked the nose I was used to from an anCnoc. I sipped. Still slightly floral, more fruit though and sweeter than the nose anticipated, but that's obviously on account of the honey. After a bit the whisky emerged, while the tea revealed oranges. The finish was long and still fruity.
I can see myself drinking this diluted with the crushed ice as an appetizer, perhaps even without the honey, which I think was added as a crowd pleaser. Infusing whisky with tea seems a nice idea. I think I'd probably use less aromatic tea, or perhaps try it with a peated malt, because, pleasing as this experiment was, I had the feeling the tea dominated the whisky a bit too much. Of course cocktail aren't made for nosing and this is very drinkable, but I don't see the point of using a malt if the balance between the aromas of are this askew. So a more robust malt like Talisker may yield a better equilibrium, and if you really just care for the tea and alcohol thingy as an easy cocktail, why not just use a good blended whisky.