Newmarket Date Night: A Valentine's Day Scotch and Chocolate Experience
This blog exists to share what the authors love about living and working in Newmarket. And one of the things that I do love, is the abundance of programming available for everyone from the smallest of children to the oldest of adults and everyone in between. This week, we are doing something a little different. This post is a guest post- brought to you by local father, husband, policy planner, lover of downtowns, scotch and chocolate and now blogger – Adrian Cammaert. Okay now, this post is about consuming alcohol and we wanted to take this opportunity to remind you to drink responsibly. If you are planning an evening out with adult beverages, please make sure you plan a ride home. With that said, we can’t wait to share this guest blog with you: take it away Adrian:
I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy).
Like the legend himself, Mr. Ron Burgundy, I love scotch. So when I heard the Town was holding a scotch tasting event [last November], I got pretty excited. When I heard it involved pairing various scotches with various chocolates, I immediately registered.
Although I do have some knowledge about scotch and am known to have a wee dram now and then, I am by no means a scotch expert. I was hoping this event would fill in my numerous knowledge gaps on scotch and was eager to learn more.
The pairing was held at Old Town Hall, right in the heart of Newmarket’s historic Main Street area; a beautiful venue for such an event. Upon walking into the tasting room, I was glad to see a prominently placed table upon which sat the various scotches we were about to taste and learn about. Not to be outdone, I also noticed an elaborate display of the fine chocolate that was to be paired up with the scotch.
To be honest, I had never heard of a scotch pairing. While food and wine pairings are common, the idea of pairing scotch, or any distilled spirit for that matter, is far less common to me. I’m not sure how the good people who organized this event came up with this concept, but I’m glad they did. The concept proved to be a popular one as the event was very well attended with over 50 thirsty participants.
The scotch-master of the evening was Andrew Skabb, Product Knowledge Expert of the LCBO’s Summerhill location. Andrew noted that he’s a ‘scotch sommelier’ of sorts, and his knowledge of scotch and other whiskies soon became obvious. Andrew walked us through the production methods of this wondrous spirit, the scotch producing regions of Scotland, bottling and labeling requirements and also the interesting practice of burning peat as a fuel source to dry the barley grain.
At each place setting were 5 whiskey samples, waiting to be enjoyed. Like a wine tasting, the idea is to taste the spirit in order of flavour intensity, beginning with the less intensive samples, then move up the flavour scale to the more intensive and flavourful samples. As Andrew explained, in the scotch world, the measure of intensity and flavour is largely based on the level of smokiness. So in order to be able to actually taste the more mellow samples, it makes sense to save the highly flavourful, smoky samples to the end.
Finally, we got to the tasking part of the evening. Each sample was introduced by Andrew. We began our tasting journey in the highlands with a couple of sweet, smooth scotches from The Macallan (12 year old) and Aberfeldy (16 year old). We them made our way to the lowlands with a smooth, mellow sample from Auchentoshan (12 year old). With those lovely drams behind us, we journeyed over to Islay for some peaty, smoky, goodness. As our scotch-master Andrew told us, Islay (as with other islands in the west of Scotland), produces some of the most intensive whiskeys in the world. This is my sweet-spot as I love a flavourful, smoky scotch (I’m looking at you, Lagavulin!). From the magical isle of Islay we sampled Ardbeg (10 year old), which did not disappoint in providing that wonderful, liquid-campfire flavour. As a special treat, we ended our sampling with a Kentucky bourbon from Blanton’s.
As each scotch sample was enjoyed, the accompanying chocolate was introduced. As explained by Kathy Haynes, Manager, Lindt’s Upper Canada Mall location, the chocolates for the evening were selected based on their flavour profiles, in order to match each sampled scotch. I was surprised by how well each chocolate paired with each scotch. I can see this practice becoming more popular in the future.
Luckily, I happen to live right down the street from Old Town Hall, so I was able to wander home kept warm from the cold November night by my scotch blanket. As I wandered home I couldn’t help but think that the legend Mr. Ron Burgundy would have enjoyed it too.
Scotch and bourbon provided by the LCBO.
Chocolates provided by Lindt Upper Canada Mall.
If this review sparked an interest – there is good news –the Town of Newmarket is hosting another Scotch and Chocolate tasting, this time for Valentine’s Day. So grab a friend or bring a date and experience this wonderful event! This tasting will be extra special as it is hosted by Ed Patrick-an internationally recognized Scotch whisky expert. Attendees at the Valentine’s Day event will sample rare vintages of scotch. If you would like more information please visit the Town’s Facebook event.
If you are ready to register for the event click here: