Chances are, you already know how to appreciate your whisky (sniff, swill, chew and let the flavour take over). You probably also know to snub any whisky snobs who tell you it’s a grave sin to add water to your dram. And finally, it is also doubtless that you know the secret to great whisky lies in the wood. But did you know that there are factors apart from the whisky itself that affect your drinking experience?
Chivas Regal, in conjunction with the launch of their Limited Edition Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection, has enlisted the expertise of Chef Jozef Youssef to understand more about the effects of ambience and mood on the whisky experience. The London-based chef and creative mastermind behind the gastronomic project Kitchen Theory has emphasized that “The surrounding environment and our state of mindfulness has the power to completely augment our perception of taste”. Now to the lay person this may just sound like jargon fancy chefs use to dazzle their audience. Chef Jozef on the other hand, has provided us with a few tips to achieve an immersive whisky experience. He highly recommends the Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection First Fill American Oak Finish, but we reckon you should experiment with other whiskies as well.
Here are 5 tips to help you magnify your senses as you appreciate your whisky:
The first step to setting the desired atmosphere lies in special lighting. According to Chef Jozef, green hues have been proven to bring out a whisky’s fresher notes, while warm amber lighting gives life to oaky notes. If you’re looking to induce a peace of mind, the chef recommends soft white light. If you are throwing a party, you can even set different light settings around the venue and encourage your guests to experiment.
This one is a little tricky and requires more research, but Chef Jozef swears that a thoughtfully planned playlist can make the difference. If you’re keen on bringing out the sweetness of a whisky’s vanilla, caramel or fruity notes, try playing some light-hearted pop music sung in the soprano or classical music that’s heavy on wind instruments (like a flute concerto from Mozart). However, to emphasize bitter elements like orange rind or burnt sugars for example, try music with a rich timbre and uneven rhythm (like a Beethoven composition).
3)Touch and Texture
This is a simple but rather integral part of the process. Add a little touch and texture to the experience with carefully selected table linens. Velvet and silk tend to bring out smoother, creamier and sweeter notes, while tougher fabrics bring out more bitter and astringent flavours. Yet again, if you are throwing a party don’t be afraid to use different fabrics around the venue.
4)Glass Weight and Temperature
When it comes to glasses, Chef Jozef encourages experimenting with smooth versus coarse, heavy versus light, and tall versus short glasses. He also explains that chilling a glass from between -2 to 13 degrees Celsius can also bring out surprising notes. Have an array of glasses at varying temperatures to see what is optimum for a particular whisky.
The last tip involves magnifying your senses through smell. You can do this in a number of ways. Incense, candles and potpourri are but a few methods. However, we must caution you against going overboard with perfuming a room, because you may end up suppressing flavours instead of emphasizing them. When done right, vanilla aromas highlight a whisky’s sweetness and amber aromas highlight smokiness.
The Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection First Fill American Oak Finish is available exclusively from Singapore Changi Airport DFS stores, at USD126 (1 litre).