Anyone who knows me, or has been reading this blog for a while, will know that I am not a whisky fan. In most alcoholic beverages I will happily partake, but other than a fairly sweet Irish whisky I tried at the International Cheese Awards, whisky is not the one for me. I couldn’t, however, turn down an invite to the Smokehead Feast with Smokehead Whisky a few months ago. I had seen how incredible the event looked in London so I was determined to see if they could convert me to their whisky ways.
Naturally it wasn’t just whisky and the Smokehead team paired whisky cocktails with smoked food for a real feast for the senses. We were greeted by whole chickens being smoked in their own individual cages, venison doughnuts with a haggis crumb injected with maple syrup and Smokehead whisky with ginger to sip whilst we took to our tables and got to know each other.
The flavours are intense but the drink paired with the doughnuts brought out the sweetness of the maple syrup and the bitterness of the charcoal. It isn’t something I expected to like but I was pleasantly surprised, there is hope for the whisky so far!
The next dish was genius. Octopus skewers served with popcorn and bacon, then a sweetcorn chowder in a tea pot to pour over the lot. Octopus isn’t my favourite but this was light and soft to contrast with the crispy bacon and creamy chowder. The popcorn added a bit of crunch. The dish was paired with the Smoked Seadog, the perfect name for the cocktail that had a seaweed rim to bring out the octopus flavours and the saltiness of the bacon. Not only a visual masterpiece but beautifully tasting too.
Those caged chickens were next, served with the most beautiful cheesy potatoes. The chicken fell off the bone having been cooked low and slow to make it soft and juicy. The paired cocktail had a kick of lime to offset the smoked flavours of the whisky and a little chilli to bring out the flavour of the chicken.
Finally we enjoyed a dessert of apple pie with ice cream and an elderflower jelly. This was served with a chocolate candle that, when lit, melted to pour onto the dessert. When served with a classic smoky old fashioned, the sweetness of the apples and elderflower jelly was heightened and I think it is the first time I have actually enjoyed an old fashioned. The nuts were also incredibly moreish despite being ridiculously full!
We had a fabulous evening with the Smokehead team and I thoroughly enjoyed the cocktails made with the whisky. I think it is safe to say that it isn’t your average whisky. The smokiness gives it additional depth yet there is an element of sweetness to the original version of the whisky which takes away some of the flavours I usually dislike with a whisky. The High Voltage version of the whisky is an eye watering 58% abv which assaults your throat with peatiness and a slight heat as it goes down. Both I enjoyed in different cocktails and paired with the food so I have learned a valuable lesson at this event. Whisky can be enjoyed by none whisky drinkers when served the right way. Who’d have thought it?
I was invited to the Smokehead event and was not asked to pay.