Chocolate is no doubt one of those foods that pair very well with whisky. The fun part is trying to match a particular chocolate to a particular dram. A recent pairing I thoroughly enjoyed was Old Pulteney 12 Year and Madecasse Sea Salt & Nibs – Delicious.
To enjoy a good dram with a bit of chocolate, first take a nice sip of whisky, hold it in the mouth for a few seconds and let it coat your palate before letting it go down. Then do the same with a piece of chocolate – Let it melt across your palate and sit there for a little while. After the chocolate take another sip of whisky. You’ll notice all these magnificent flavors in both the whisky and the chocolate begin to mingle together and really start to stand out more. Compare and contrast different chocolates with different whiskies. Look for flavors in a chocolate that will compliment a particular whisky. Adventure is the name of the game here. Regarding my example of Old Pulteney and Madecasse above, the sea salt in the chocolate made the maritime qualities of the whisky stand out that much more. The fruitiness of the whisky also greatly complimented the chocolate.
Today I rediscovered a relatively new line of chocolates made right here in the Greater Boston Area (Somerville, MA to be exact) – Taza. A few co-workers were kind enough to bring several samples back to the office after a tour of their factory. The missus and I will be touring the plant this weekend.
Hand chiseled mill stones are used to make these traditional Mexican stone-ground organic chocolates. With flavors like Cinnamon, Salted Almond, Coffee, Ginger, Salt & Pepper, Orange and Guajillo Chili, how could you go wrong? Most of the flavors were quite subtle at first, but really began to show into the finish. Guajillo Chili, Orange, Cinnamon and Salted Almond were among my favorites. The standard chocolates cannot be left out, though, as they are quite amazing as well.
Besides being both dairy and gluten free, the biggest difference between Taza and other chocolate manufacturers is texture. Due to the process in which these chocolates are made, they can be somewhat gritty. A few were put off by that at first, mostly because they’re not used to it, but the quality and flavors quickly triumphed. I assure you, they are quite enjoyable.
So go out, find some nice chocolates and take an evening to yourself to kick back with a nice dram and experiment with some of the finer things in life. For my next “Whisky Pairing” segment, we’ll discover some of the enjoyment that coffee has to offer. Sláinte!
UPDATE: As stated above, we toured their facilities and sampled several of their chocolates – They only get better. Whether enjoying with whisky or not, Taza is highly recommended and absolutely worth seeking out.