Sunday, 7 February 2016

Burns Night Supper & Compass Box Whisky Pairing

Following on from my previous post about The Ox Cheltenham, The Chap and I were lucky enough to win tickets to go to their Burns Night Supper. Celebrating the original Master of Ceremony, Robert Burns, Monday 25th January saw the restaurant lay on a Scottish inspired four course menu perfectly matched with a flight of whisky. What a dream!

Having spent previous Burns Nights at home with haggis, neeps and tatties, followed by copious amounts of whisky and shortbread, it was a lovely change to be attending an event with a whole host of other Burns enthusiasts instead. All that was missing were bagpipes, kilts and the ode to a haggis!

Compass Box - specialist Scotch whiskymakers and craft blenders - supplied the drinks for the night. They're an innovative company, making whiskies that cover the spectrum of flavours Scotch whisky can offer; from light, delicate and elegant to big, smoky and peaty. With such a range of styles and flavour profiles, Compass Box can appeal to a variety of tastes, making whisky more approachable, even to those that don't normally drink it.

To kick things off, we had a classic Mamie Taylor cocktail made with Great King Street: a measure of whisky and the juice of half a lime, topped up with ginger beer. Easy to make and easy to drink! Despite resembling the recipe for a Moscow Mule, the Mamie Taylor actually predates it by about 65 years! Canapés accompanied our cocktails too - smoked salmon and horseradish cream blinis - which totally got our appetites going.

Before the first course was brought out, we received our whisky: Compass Box Oak Cross. Part of the Signature Range, the Oak Cross combines the best characteristics of both American and French oak ageing. It's quite a fruity number, which delivers vanilla, cloves and a sweet maltiness.

A great aperitif whisky, and therefore a great match to the first dish; Tandoori Scottish scallops, spiced yoghurt, crisp chick peas and pickled cucumber. The fragrant spices made sure that the scallops didn't get lost when eaten with the whisky, and the crisp chick peas not only added texture, but added a nuttiness which paired with the spirit too.

Next up was the Compass Box Spice Tree. Made from 100% malt whisky sourced from Highland distilleries, and aged in custom-made casks fitted with new French oak heads, this is a big whisky with spicy aromas of clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

Photo Credit: The Ox Cheltenham

Its rich, round sweetness paired wonderfully with our main course; Charcoal roasted venison, haggis, charred onion purée and potato onion gratin. Not having the usual Burns Night fayre was a nice touch from The Ox - venison felt like a massive treat - and still including a little bit of haggis was a welcome nod to tradition. It was gorgeous.

If we didn't think it could get much better, we were wrong. The dessert course came with Compass Box Orangerie, a truly unique whisky which has been infused with fresh orange zest and aromatic spices. Although it's made from a soft, sweet blend of Highland single malt and single grain whisky from Fife, it can't actually be called Scotch whisky because it has taken on other flavours from the infusion.

Orangerie is an interesting one, it's probably not something I'd choose to drink - I prefer peaty/salty whiskies - but with the Rhubarb Cranachan that we were served, it really came into its own. Orange and rhubarb are a match made in heaven anyway, but the layers of sharp stewed fruit (I know it's technically a veg), overwhipped cream and crumbled shortbread really brought out the sweet orange-spiced nature of the whisky.

To end our supper, we were given my favourite glass of the night, the limited edition Compass Box Flaming Heart alongside some Dunshire Blue, Barway Original Cheddar, oatcakes and chutney. Smouldering, spicy and complex, Flaming Heart was the first whisky to combine the richness of Scotch aged in new French oak with the peat-fired smoke of Islay malt. This bottle, celebrating Compass Box's fifteenth anniversary, is a brooding, indulgent dram that's destined for late night drinking. Born of oak, smoke and fire, with an underlying sweetness, it's an after dinner drink that's a perfect partner for a cheeseboard… Out with the Port and in with the whisky (we've all had enough Port over Christmas anyway)!

Although we won our places at the event, tickets were only £40 per person, and that included everything - both food and drink. You could easily spend that amount of money on a four course dinner without drinks somewhere - it was such good value. And in the majority of restaurants, having a main course of venison usually means a price tag of up to £20 alone. So, £40 for the whole shebang seemed almost penny saving!

I'll certainly be looking out for future events at The Ox; we had a great night!


No comments:

Post a Comment