Another great micro-adventure from the beloved SMWS. A short lived (couple of days) popup restaurant featuring a whisky bar, and a sit down meal with a great selection of drams from (mostly) this outturn paired with proper game tapas from The Wild Game Co. I was very lucky to attend the preview which runs for the next couple of days – mostly sold out with some tickets left on the Saturday night, however the bar is definitely worth a visit and you don’t need to be a member to drink there. The pop-up is at 31 New Yard Inn, London, EC2 and runs on September 11 and 12 2014 (tomorrow and Saturday!).
A couple of things struck me about the experience. First, even if some of the pairings jarred a little with me, the quality of the game, its cooking and (obviously) the whisky is so high that as a tapas experience, it really works even if the pairing doesn’t. Second, game really does enhance interesting whisky – it brought out the earthy, bloody, primal nature of both elements. Just being in the atmosphere of charring meat and deglazing fruits and sugars changed the experience of the whiskies (many of which I’m recently and intimately acquainted with) into something much more savoury, juicy, toothsome but removed some of the delicacy and finesse. So while I have just given notes for these, I’m giving them again as an interesting comparison for my (pretty niche) audience.
I would definitely recommend this. It’s not exactly dinner – you’re having tapas and might need something else afterwards, but as an exciting and invigorating food and whisky experience, it’s really good.
We started with a big whisky.
117.3 Hubba-bubba, mango and Monstera, Cooley, 25 years old, 58.5%
Nose – Complex, dark and wooded, goes very nicely with the smell of charring game. Toffeed and herbal. Almost a BBQed pina colada thing going on here.
Body – Spicy, balanced, toffee in a wicker basket. With water, more fruit and sweetly wooded.
Then we moved onto the food. There are four menus of 4 whiskies and tapas to choose from – fish, game, and more boldly flavoured game and whisky. I went for the latter.
59.51 A refined cocktail, Teaninich, 30 years old, 51.5%
Nose – Jewelled, bright and malty sweet. Candied barley.
Body – Epic structure, game, Sauternes, redcurrant… hang on.
Finish – Long, wood bitterness. With water, opens up with more berries, more toffee on the palate. Very good.
with Pigeon, apple, chorizo and balsamic syrup.
Lovely pigeon, very salty chorizo. A seriously good tapas. The whisky goes with the apple, but the food is too earth and bloody to go with this sweet, jewelled, old, sexy whisky.
3.225, Galleon attacked by pirates, Bowmore, 16 years old, 57.2%
I already know I love this whisky.
Nose – Immediately more masculine, lightly sherried and wonderful peat. Ripe and salted plums.
Body – A little sourer than I remember, massively peated, earthy and exciting.. this is going to go well with the pig ribs.
with Wild pig ribs with radish salad.
The nose on the Bowmore really compliments the sweet musk of the wild pig. Wonderful just smelling the whisky and the food together. The ribs are sugary, covered in Sichuan peppercorns, soft and delicious. This really works. While I am particular about BBQed ribs, and have eaten a lot of them, this isn’t the same thing – these are much more in the Chinese style of short cut ribs in honey and spice. The radish salad goes well with the Bowmore and the pork, and as a pairing it works as you are compelled to go back and forth and hold them in your mouth together. Highlight.
9.91, A whispering dram, Glen Grant, 23 years old, 53%
Nose – Lovely and sweet with the gamey stuff working in around it. The cereal and red berries really work with the general funk of the place.
Body – Balanced and tasty numbness, great wood and fence panels.
with Mallard served medium rare with marmalade, soy and honey.
Really quite rare but lovely. There is an oddly coastal element to this – think it’s the blood? Maybe it’s the Bowmore still on my palate and in the glass next to me. The pairing does clash though, the sweet old Glen Grant isn’t up to the blood and metal in the mallard – perhaps when they made it there was more marmalade on the plate.
Next up was supposed to be 10.77, Beware of the monster, but I understand it was too rare and popular and it’s been substituted for an old Caol Ila. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s a lovely dram.
53.198, Wasabi on a California Roll, Caol Ila, 18 years old, 59.1%
Nose – Sweet cigarette smoke, perfumed. Undercurrent of glazed carrots, cereal bar, redcurrants and blood.
Body – Peppered, wooded, sweet peat.
Finish – Medium, toffeed, toffee apple. Lovely balance.
with A selection of cured meats.
Very exciting, very dark, a small amount of dark cured game sausage and I think mallard breast. Lots of salt, pepper and chilli. Really brings out the blood and gunpowder in the Caol Ila, a very good pairing.