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If you’ve ever doubted that whisky and Indian food are the perfect pairing, you’re not alone. When we were invited by The Mint Room Bristol to experience their 5-course Glenfiddich whisky tasting dinner, I was intrigued to see how it would go down. And I’m glad to say, it went down well!
Arriving to a reception of whisky cocktails and canapes, we enjoyed Aubergine Toast, Bhatak Sheek, which consisted of delicious minced duck spiced with green chilli, orange and fennel, and a 12-year-old Glenfiddich mixed with ginger ale and vanilla bitters. To say the evening got off to a good start is an understatement!
Sitting down, we were served the first of many drams – Glenfiddich Project XX, an experimental whisky designed by 20 different people. I should probably mention at this point that I’m not a huge whisky fan myself. I’ve tried and tried to acquire a taste for it, but I always find it’s just too strong for my palate. My husband, on the other hand, is a huge whisky lover and he was absolutely in his element! So, bearing that in mind, I must admit that I was looking forward more to the food than the whisky!
Before tucking into the first course, which consisted of Tandoori grilled portobello, oyster and shiitake mushrooms with pickled shallots, we enjoyed an intriguing history of Glenfiddich and the whisky making process from a Glenfiddich representative.
Founded by William Grant in 1887, Glenfiddich is still 100% family-owned and not only the biggest selling single malt whisky in the world but also the most awarded. William’s dream was to create ‘the best dram in the valley’ and as such, this award-winning brand has been handed down through five generations of his descendants.
As one of the only remaining family-owned producers of single malt whisky in Scotland, it’s quite impressive to know that they currently have 1.3 million casks ageing in the Glenfiddich warehouses! I wonder whether William Grant ever realised how popular his whisky would become.
While enjoying the first course, I discovered that, rather than finding the whisky too strong for my palate, it almost tasted sweet in comparison to the spiciness of the food, which is especially noteworthy due to the fact that Project XX is a 47% whisky and the strongest dram served that evening.
Between each course, we enjoyed an overview of the whisky, a description of the flavour notes and what makes it special. We learned that, in line with my discovery above, Project XX was chosen specifically because of its sweet notes, which works well in toning down the spiciness of the first course. Now it made sense!
Our next course soon arrived, after an interesting explanation of how best to taste whisky – a delicious pan-fried fillet of sea bass served with tangy tomato, raw mango and green beans. And the dram? A Glenfiddich 15-year-old Solera Scotch whisky.
The balance of flavours between the tanginess of the tomato and the sweetness of the mango was perfectly complimented by the notes of heather honey and dark fruits of the Glenfiddich 15 Solera.
Next came a palate cleansing coconut and basil sorbet, followed swiftly by a Lamb Rogan Josh served with a potato Bartha and char grill spiced broccoli, accompanied with dal makhani and naan bread.
Lamb cooked perfectly is one of life’s many pleasures and I’m pleased to say the lamb was tender enough to melt in the mouth. The whisky served with this course? The Glenfiddich IPA Experiment, The first single malt scotch finished in IPA craft beer casks.
The final course complimented the flavoursome food with a delicate and light baked yoghurt with fresh fruit salsa, honey and saffron, finished off with a ‘Masala Chai Old Fashioned’, made with Glenfiddich 21-year-old, masala chai, spiced honey and orange bitters.
Surprisingly, after all the strong whisky and punchy spice, I found the ‘Old Fashioned’ to be slightly too weak for my taste. Perhaps I’m developing a taste for whisky after all!
Aside from this, everything was absolutely divine. We enjoyed an evening of fine whisky and even finer food, served by friendly, accommodating and charismatic staff in the Mint Room Bristol restaurant that has a cosy yet luxurious feel.
So, if you’re doubting that whisky and Indian food are the perfect partners in crime, don’t. I can tell you from experience, they were made for each other.
We were invited by The Mint Room Bristol to experience their Glenfiddich 5-course tasting dinner, but all opinions are my own.