People often think that when you review products for a living you really like a fantasy, a kind of Sex in the City lifestyle where you go from one hot party to another, picking up swag bags and swaning for the paparazzi. In reality, a reviewer’s life is really hard work. There are plenty of events to attend, but many are not terribly exciting, leaving one with sore feet and a long ride home after an even longer day. But, on occasion, The Advice Sisters attend something special, and truly wonderful. One such event was “Mark The Moment,” held at the uber chic library at Soho House and sponsored by Snooth Media, and Pernod Ricard’s The Glenlivet scotch. This event not only taught The Advice Sisters a great deal about scotch, one of our most favorites spirits, but also how to pair the famous whiskey with a wide variety of foods.
If you are a scotch aficionado (or you’re looking for a very special gift for someone), you already know about The Glenlivet, one of the classic single malt scotches, meaning that it is made from a single distillery with malted barley as its sole grain ingredient. In fact, scotch is generally made from just four ingredients: Malted barley, yeast, water and oak barrels. The Glenlivet is a venerable brand, having been born in 1924 in the valley of the same name. In fact, according to Brand Ambassador Craig Bridger, the valley was one of the finest scotch producing areas and many distilleries came to use the name. The “The” in the name came from the fact that this was the first distillery to legally operate in the valley, allowing the brand to be identified separately from the place. Today, The Glenlivet is the largest selling single malt whisky in the United States and the second biggest selling single malt brand globally.
Some people think that scotch is a man’s drink, but Advice Sister Alison has been drinking scotch as her liquor or choice, since she was a young woman. Scotch drinkers like the finer things in life and has the confidence to show it! If you are thinking about a gift for Mother’s Day (it is coming up) a bottle of The Glenlivet might be just the thing! Scotch makes a lovely gift because it is something special to savor.
One does not often think of pairing scotch whiskey with food, but that was the order of the night, with a four course dinner prepared by Chef Neil Ferguson, accompanied by four of The Glenlivet’s premium whiskies. The first course which consisted of a range of savory passed bites ranging from smoked duck to mint peas to spicy tuna tartar was paired with the signature scotch The Glenlivet 12 year old. This classic single malt took on an almost fruity note when paired with the hors d’oeuvres. As we nibbled and sipped, Craig told us the note was probably from the old bourbon barrels that were used to age the scotch. Craig also reminded us that the best type of glass to serve The Glenlivet in, is one that allows the aroma to filter up to your nostrils. He told us that all scotch is best served in a tulip-shaped glass, rather than a traditional rocks tumbler. This also helps accentuate the fruity notes that scotch takes on from its time in oak. The best way to serve The Glenlivet – and all scotch – is ” neat” (without mixers or crammed with ice), with the addition of a single ice cube or a tiny touch of water to open up the flavor. He added that cold shuts down the base notes of the scotch and that rocks in general should be avoided.
After we had a few nice glasses of the 12-year old scotch, and had enjoyed chatting with the representatives from Snooth, Craig, and our editor colleagues, we were directed to sit at one of two nicely set, long tables, for a dinner that would be pairing a different type of The Glenlivet scotch products with each course. We were delighted that Craig was seated at our table. When gently pressed, he told us how he became a brand ambassador (hint: it helps to have training as a bartender, and you’ve got to love the product).
The first course consisted of a salmon carpaccio with orange olive oil and fennel, along with a salad containing winter greens, sheep’s milk cheese, caramelized pecans and beets. The course was paired with The Glenlivet’s 15 year old scotch. Everyone at the table was amazed to see how well that rich and almost nutty scotch paired with not only the oily fish, but also with the bitter greens and especially the beets. These simple red beets brought out a fruity palate in the scotch that was truly unexpected. At this point everyone at the event knew that they were in for a very interesting night.
We were not disappointed when the mail course was brought out. Rich meats – a Colorado lamb stew and a perfectly done beef tenderloin along with fingerling potatoes, brussel sprouts and other root vegetables were accompanied by a scotch called The Glenlivet Nadurra. This scotch which is bottled at cask strength (not mixed with spring water to achieve a specific proof value) has an almost clear color and due to its nature was quite over-proof. The scotch had a nose almost like a Caribbean Rum, quite sweet. The Glenlivet Nadurra 16 year old is a scotch drinker’s delight, a robust scotch with a considerably higher alcohol content. Paired with the rich savory dinner, the scotch was spicy and strong, and with the addition of a bit of water took on a fruitiness. I personally thought that the Glenlivet Nadurra had strong chocolate notes – it reminded me almost of Mexican mole. Made in small batches that will vary in both color and strength, the Glenlivet Nadurra was quite a surprise. Based on the comment we were hearing at our table, it was clear that the Nadurra was the favorite of the evening.
We finished with another chocolaty scotch, The Glenlivet 18 Years Old. Aged in both sherry barrels and the classic bourbon barrels, this scotch was amazingly complex and paired quite well with a range of sweets – particularly fresh citrus fruits. The scotch had a nose almost like a chocolate orange – with just a hint of citrus. It was very light in color. Those who are fans of Kentucky bourbon will feel right at home drinking the 18 Year Old.
For The Advice Sisters, some nights in New York really are like Sex in the City!
You can learn more about The Glenlivet (please be 21 or older to enter the site): http://www.theglenlivet.com/ and ask for The Glenlivet products at your favorite liquor store!
my thanks to John R. Dunham for his work on this report