I consider myself somewhat of a whiskey aficionado. Or at the very least a whiskey advocate. My drink of choice is whiskey and it’s rare to find me drinking a cocktail spiked with another spirit. But when it comes to the scotch realm of the whiskey world, that’s where I get intimidated. Until Caputo’s Market came to the rescue, as they often do in matters of culinary conundrums.
When I first became interested in learning more about cheese, I began attending Caputo’s various cheese and wine classes on a regular basis. Soon my friends were calling me a cheese and wine snob because I could recite random tidbits about our cheese plate and pick out a good bottle of wine at dinner.
Naturally I signed up for more of Caputo’s classes, evening learning how to pair beer and chocolate. (I’ll never think of chocolate the same after that class!) So when I learned that Caputo’s was holding not just a class about scotch but an entire series of classes on scotch whisky, I was slightly enthusiastic, to say the least. (The American spelling is whiskey, how I usually spell it, but since the Scottish spell it whisky, I’ll use that from here on out today. :)
Caputo’s puts Evan Ross, normally seen behind the cheese counter, front and center to showcase his love of scotch for the benefit of us whisky lovers. And this man knows his scotch. He knows its history and its intricate secrets that distinguish the flavor; he knows which kind to drink and what not to. And best of all, he shares it all every month, paired with a little bit of goods from Caputo’s Market.
Because scotch differs so much depending on where its produced, Evan and Caputo’s have broken down each class by region. I attended the Highland series, where we focused on the sparsely-populated west and central regions of Scotland that produce salty, honey and floral-flavored single malts.
We started at the lower end of the Highland scotch spectrum with McClelland Highland a simple and approachable whisky with hazelnut flavor that we paired with a lightly toasted hazelnut, moved our way through Highland Park a 12-year old honey- and caramel-flavored spirit with a hint of smokeness that we teamed with a Pegrino Fiore Sardo cheese.
Next we tried the Glenmorangie Original, a 10-year whisky with a tinge of apple to it, paired with a Mahon cheese; followed by a Dalwhinnie 15-year that was sweetly delicate, with honey flavors, and paired with house-made ham and Swiss Gruyere. (Spoiler alert :: The Dalwhinnie was my favorite.)
We ended with the Dalmore, an intense whisky aged for 12 years in old bourbon barrels paired with imported speck, Amadei Chau chocolate and local Amano chocolate. Damn, what a pairing!
Overall, the class taught us a quick overview of the history of scotch, followed by a brief history of each distillery and tasting notes. Besides walking away with so much scotch knowledge, the best part is getting to taste five different scotches without investing in an entire bottle of each, all in a fun, relaxing setting. If you want to know the in-depth, Evan Ross rendition of each of these scotches, check out his impressive post over on Caputo’s blog.
Disclaimer :: I was graciously treated to this event by Caputo’s. All opinions are my own.