Most of our fellow guests had already managed to get through a couple of whiskey cocktails before the main event – a tasting run by Colin Dunn and a Burns Night Supper (or a Almost A Week Early Truncated Burns Night Celebration) complete with the awesome presentation skills of Clark McGinn addressing the haggis, which of course was piped into the bar. I’ve only been to one Burns Night before – in the depths of North Wales, organised by a Sassenach – which was much more involved than this, with the reply from the lassies involving a story about a Kalashnikov. This may or may not have been strictly traditional.
Part of the reason I was keen to attend is that my whiskey knowledge more or less extended to ‘I don’t think I like it’. Colin talked us through the nose and bouquet of each of three whiskies – I’d have to say that my favourite was the first, the 10YO. We were encouraged – monitored – to hold the amber goodness in our mouths, swilling it around, for a full ten seconds to release the flavour.
It wasn’t so much a taste sensation as an explosion and a feeling that my taste buds had been temporarily burned off. I think this is probably common for uninitiated. That dissapates after a while, you get the Ready-Brek glow and it was well matched with Scottish smoked salmon. We went on to sample their Distillers Edition and the 57 degrees North, paired with appropriate dishes (yes we had haggis and tatties) and it grew on me, literally. I started to understand the attraction of whiskey a little better – I was surprised to find I was much keener on sipping the single malt than having any of the whiskey cocktails that the bar staff conjured up afterwards. This was certainly helped along by the sublime chocolate mousse – more than one person commented that they’d go back for that alone.
We left with a very generous goodie bag and I was exceptionally taken with the embossed packaging on the small bottle of 10YO that we took away. In case you didn’t already guess, 57 degrees North is one of the geographical coordiates for the Talisker distillery and it’s used on the box. I like that sort of detail. I’m not expecting to become a everyday whiskey drinker, but much like the introduction to tequila at Wahaca – where I discovered the difference between blanco, reposado and añejo – I feel like I learned something. Even if it’s only that I’ll be buying my Dad the 10YO for his birthday, it’s still a very good start.
Thanks to @TikiChris and Qype for a great event.
Salt Bar, 13 Edgware Road, London W2 2JE 0207 402 1155