My wife and I had gone to Helvetica for a series of whisky and chocolate tastings and we'd finally progressed to the last pairing of the night.
Now this last whisky to be tasted with a chocolate was a whisky that most people would likely think wouldn't be a good whisky for it. I know I was semi skeptical.
That whisky was Ardbeg.
Specifically Ardbeg 10 yr old.
Now I'd had quite a few different expressions of Ardbeg over the last year or so, but I'd yet to try the 10 yr old so I was pretty curious.
I was even more curious how well it would pair up with the chocolate.
Especially considering that the chocolate was to be malt balls or malteses as I believe they're known in the land down under.
For the record I REALLY don't like malt balls.
Like REALLY don't like.
But first off, let's see this whisky that has everyone talking!
So I take the tasting glass and start to nose around and the very first thing that hits me is peat, lots of peat and smoke, almost bonfire type smoke, but at no point does it kill the nose for me, rather it almost enhances the other aromas coming from my glass.
Underneath the smoke and peat is a sweetness. Smells a bit like pears and pineapples, vanilla, possibly a bit of apple in there, and along with this lovely sweetness is the always present aroma of burnt band aids and iodine.
A very awesome nose that instantly takes me the isle of Islay and Ardbeg!
I decide to finally take my first sip of Ardbeg 10 yr old. Now I've tried quite a few Ardbegs before, Renaissance, Corryvreckan, Uigeadail and the mythical Lord of the Isles.
So I had a fair idea of what to expect flavor wise and I wasn't disappointed!
The smoke, peat, iodine are all immediately evident in the mouth, but underneath all of that the pears say hello to everyone in the room to. A very very yummy whisky!
Pepper appears in the mouth with a small bit of kick and spice, but not unpleasantly so.
The finish is long with a smokey flavor and a bit of pepper giving you a kick in the face as it goes down.
Quite yum as I have said before!
But as much as I love my whisky, the point of this entire visit is to try the pairing of whisky and chocolate.
Now the little page we're given when we arrived said that the malt in the chocolate that we're trying with this whisky, the malt balls.
Now I take a sip of the Ardbeg and take a cautious bite of the malt balls.
And the flavors EXPLODE in my mouth! It's this lovely perfect combination that does indeed bring out the malt inside the whisky and the malt balls in a way that enhances the best flavors of the whisky and the chocolate.
The only way I can describe it is brilliant.
Now the tasting notes we were given suggests cracking the malt balls open and sucking the Ardbeg through it.
My wife does this after having just tried the malt balls and whisky together and says that this way of drinking the whisky is even better.
She actually describes it as lovely.
This is coming from someone who while will try smokey and peaty whiskies, will not drink them again once she has tried it.
I attempt to do this, but I seem to be having some problems.
This is probably due to the fact that I'm a bit of a troll and an utter klutz with anything non animal related.
I try and try to manage this cracking of the malt balls and drinking the Ardbeg through it, but sadly I have no success.
Even better is that Ardbeg 10 yr old is an easily accessible whisky over here in Australia and retails for anywhere from $85 to $110 dollars!
Not too bad!
Now this was supposed to be the end of the night, but not for us!
We aren't able to get out here often enough and I'd love to try the new Ardbeg Day whisky and I haven't tried my George T Stagg so we shall be a little while longer!
As before the whisky review score can be found down below while the chocolate and whisky pairing score is found right here.
Ardbeg 10 yr old and Malt Balls 94/100