Unboxing April's Pour & Sip box, with chocolate and whisky pairings!
April’s Pour & Sip box is here! We can’t wait to get stuck in, with well-aged single grain from a closed distillery to single malt from Tel Aviv awaiting – we’ve even got some whisky and chocolate pairings for you, seeing as it’s Easter.
Spring has sprung! The days are longer, the weather is warmer (well, sometimes), and most importantly, there’s another stellar selection of whiskies for us to enjoy together. Our first live tasting is kicking off the month the right way, with FEW Spirits founder Paul Hletko tuning in for all the usual fun.
Easter is just around the corner, which means that copious amounts of chocolate is, too. In the spirit of the season, we put our heads together to think of the most delicious chocolate pairing to go with each whisky in this month’s box – but don’t be afraid to think outside the box! If you discover a particularly delightful combination, make sure you let us know on social, we’re @PourAndSipClub.
Right, let’s check out these whiskies!
Whisky Works Glaswegian 29 Year Old
Well-aged single grain alert! While the name of this whisky gives us a clue as to where it hails from, the actual distillery has been kept a secret by its independent bottler, Whisky Works. We do know that it’s a now-closed grain distillery which, according to the bottler, ‘once stood at the heart of Scotland’s waterways’. Time to get your detective hat on! It spent its 29 years of maturation in American white oak barrels, which pack the whisky full of creamy vanilla notes. The barrels were kept in traditional dunnage warehouses, which thanks to their slate roofs, thick stone walls, and earthen floors, don’t see much temperature fluctuation at all (in opposition to our Israeli single malt that you’ll be introduced to in a moment). This allows the whisky to mature super evenly and for many years, without much loss to the angels’ share.
We know the saying is that opposites attract, but in this case we think that the creamy, buttery flavours of white chocolate will emphasise those same notes you’ll find in this decadent single grain.
Seeing as Evanston, Illinois, is described as the birthplace of Prohibition (a law which it was under for over 100 years) and the home of temperance (a movement which also promoted abstinence from alcohol in the 1800s), it may seem like an unlikely spot to pitch a distillery – but that’s exactly why FEW Spirits founder Paul Hletko did it! FEW was the first distillery in Evanston in 160 years, changing the flavour of the city’s history. In a bold and pretty cheeky move, the distillery was named after the initials of Frances Elizabeth Willard, a key figure in the women’s temperance movement. We wonder how she would have felt about that… Anyway, this is its Rye whiskey, made with a mash bill of 70% rye, 20% corn, and 10% malted barley – so there’s all those herbaceous, spiced notes from the lead grain among a melange of fruitier flavours.
Considering there’s a healthy dose of fruit notes in FEW Spirits’ Rye, we reckon a good cherry chocolate won’t go amiss here.
Milk & Honey Classic Single Malt
Before Milk & Honey was established in Tel Aviv in 2012, there wasn’t a single whisky distillery in Israel! Though it’s no longer the only one, it does lay claim to Israel’s first single malt, released in 2018. While that initial expression was a limited-edition, this is its first ongoing core single malt, released in 2020. The whisky is matured in ex-bourbon and virgin oak casks, as well as Burgundy red wine-seasoned STR casks – which stands for shaved, toasted and re-charred. STR casks are the creation of the legendary late Dr Jim Swan, who was bestowed the title ‘the Einstein of whisky’. Charring the casks helps caramelise and sweeten the flavours imparted from the wine into the wood, in turn having a big impact on the flavour of the whisky. What’s more, Tel Aviv is lucky enough to get 300 or more days of sun each year, with the warm climate accelerating the effects of ageing. Just because it doesn’t carry an age statement doesn’t mean it’s not packed full of flavour!
A spiced dark chocolate ought to balance out the sweeter, red fruit-forward notes in this bold expression.
Cù Bòcan Signature
Cù Bòcan (pronounced ‘coo-bock-can’) is a smoky series of single malts – though it is indeed produced at the Tomatin Distillery, that's where the similarities end, so it's not to be confused with Tomatin single malt. The series is named after a ghost-like dog from local legend that wanders the Scottish Highlands, though once it’s touched it disappears (rather appropriately) into a cloud of smoke! Because it's distilled with peated barley during just one week a year in the winter, each batch is limited – so it’s pretty exciting. Its Signature expression is a gently smoky single malt rather than a peat bomb, matured in a trio of ex-bourbon, ex-Oloroso sherry, and North American virgin oak casks. The hallmark creamy, tropical flavours from the bourbon and the spicier, roasted flavours from the sherry cask work wonderfully with the zesty, refreshing nuances imparted from the virgin oak.
We reckon the smoky nature of this Highlander will pair perfectly with the rich bitterness of cacao nibs. Try toasting them slightly if you find them a little too bitter for your taste!
Waterford Arcadian - Gaia 1.1
You’ve heard of terroir in wine, but over in Ireland the Waterford Distillery is all about showcasing terroir in whisky! Specifically, the team created the Arcadian series to look at terroir in barley, and this is its first release, Gaia 1.1. This also happens to be Ireland’s first organic single malt, and the whisky is distilled from Irish barley grown by seven different farmers. It’s matured in four cask types: predominantly first-fill American oak, with smaller proportions drawn from French oak, virgin American oak, and Vin Doux Naturel (naturally sweet wines). The eagle-eyed of you will have noticed that, despite hailing from Ireland, I’m spelling ‘whisky’ without an ‘e’. No typos here, that’s just how the distillery prefers to spell it! The combination of cask types, barley varieties, and its riverside location make for an intriguing expression, full of sweet, herbal, and savoury flavours.
This one calls for some decent quality 85% dark chocolate – it’ll be sure to stand up to the complex flavours you find in the whisky.
I can't wait to hear what kind of whisky and chocolate pairings you come up with! Don't forget our live tastings on 1 April and 15 April – we'll see you there.