Exploring the effects that oak casks have on aging scotch and exploring how well food can pair with scotch both are worthy activities. The Springbank Single Cask Oak Exploration provides the perfect setting on both counts.
Food and drink…it kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Or rather, it rolls back across your tongue and down your gullet, but that’s not the point.
It’s nice to sip on something, but it’s even nicer to have something to chew on as well, and especially with scotch, something that completes the picture of the dram by enhancing or contrasting a certain flavor characteristic.
Today for show and tell I’m going to share with the class the tasting notes of a Springbank Single Cask Oak Exploration Seminar that I not only attended, but created a snack for each pour.
Chew on that!
Pairing food & spirits
Coming up with what food to pair with what whisky takes a bit of creativity. My knowledge of how the dram sits on my palate informs me on what flavor I want to highlight.
Here is the rub…usually when trying to figure out what to highlight for a particular expression, I get to sample the product and see for myself what flavors shine or peek out.
For this tasting lineup, I wasn’t able to have this advanced taste, so I was flying blind. Well, not quite blind, as all the expressions had a particular cask finish…that I could work with.
Exploring oak cast finishes
Here’s how Holly Seidewand, Gordon’s whisky specialist, introduced the pour list: "Enjoy the beauty of the Springbank spirit, in all of its layers and qualities, and see how it’s showcased with each style of oak cask. All are limited edition, single cask releases."
So the challenge then was to draw on my experience with my palate to identify a flavor profile for a particular type of cask finish and apply those impressions to what food would enhance or contrast said profile.
[cue some appropriate ninja-style music here, perhaps “Eye of the Tiger”?]
So without further ado (Good…we’re about done with all your ado!), here are the tasting notes for each pour along with a description of what food I paired with it (in italics).
Springbank Single Cask Oak Exploration Seminar
At Gordon’s Main St, presented by Holly Seidenwand, June 29, 2017
Springbank Single Cask 19yr Refill Bourbon
- Nose: grass & honey
- Taste: licorice initially, oily, bolder, chewy
- Finish: pepper comes up and stays on the back of the tongue
- Comments: the high spice stays and stays; against the cake the spice is highlighted with sugar
Springbank Single Cask 19yr Refill Sherry
- Nose: just get the cooked fruit
- Taste: cream starts, caramel, dances around the sherry, has a body but not heavy
- Finish: spice and butter lingers, not long
- Comments: really good with the raisins, quite pleasant...brings out the sweetness
Springbank Single Cask 19yr Fresh Port
- Nose: bananas, sweet burnt sugar
- Taste: slow start of cream, cooked fruit comes on strong, thick but fun
- Finish: that fruit competes with the pepper in a pleasant way
- Comments: I really like this one...excellent!
Springbank Single Cask 19yr Fresh Rum
- Nose: butter and cooked fruit
- Taste: sweetness starts but grass sneaks in, light in body
- Finish: a bit of grass & tropical fruit
- Comments: really works with the molasses cookie, 2nd favorite
Springbank Single Cask 19yr Re-charred Sherry
- Nose: vanilla, bright, fruity
- Taste: smoky banana, char comes through, almost get some quick menthol
- Finish: a lasting pleasant smoke
- Comments: while it's cask strength, it's not strong, nice with the shortbread
Springbank Single Cask 11yr Local Barley
- Nose: bright, sweet fruit - peaches, apricots
- Taste: smoke surprises, not sweet as the nose, some astringency, the fruit enters at the back end, medium body
- Finish: smoke lingers long
- Comments: nose doesn't match so it makes for an interesting taste, I would drink this in the spring or summer - tastes like sunshine and campfires
The attendees gave me kudos for the snack match-ups. I had that little thrill of victory (“the eye of the Ti-i-i-i-gerrrrr”) knowing that I had chosen…wisely.
Ok, now the Indiana Jones theme is running through my head.
This event was only the second time I had fully paired a line up (the first I catered but wasn’t able to attend), and I don’t want to stop now!
Further to the point, now when I taste something new, I not only try to identify its tasting notes but a nice pairing as well.
It's a fun challenge!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!