02 August 2010

Ryan reports from the Drinks Factory lectures of Bar10

Dave Broom and Bernard Lahousse

The much-anticipated Drinks Factory showcase of Bar10 began proceedings with the tour de force coupling of our favourite drinks writer- Dave Broom, and much applauded creator of www.foodpairing.be - Bernard Lahousse.

The pair took the audience on an exploration of flavours and scents- and what better example to highlight this than Scotch Whisky? By analysing fractions of the whisky, representing each stage of the production process, Dave and Bernard illustrated what and why certain flavours were created through each phase. This was done by dissecting Longmorn Single Malt into its component parts, then finally carrying this through to analyse the blend to which the distillery lends itself- Chivas Regal. At each stage, from grain to finished product, Dave would describe the process and explain the factors that influence the flavours present. This was complimented by Bernard elaborating upon the notes present and explaining how compounds form and relate to each other- giving everyday examples as means of grounding his points; for instance, a stronger, fuller flavour from a mushroom can be created by cutting laterally than it would be by cutting from top to root. This was also developed by Bernard explaining flavour pairing at a compound level, and using a few catalogued scents, he could demonstrate how flavours relate. Several scents were passed around the audience with more than one person correctly identifying the mystery compound. This was graphically illustrated with the use of Bernard’s website where pairings and replacements for flavours and ingredients can be found.

Dave began with new make Longmorn, and then showed how flavours develop as they interact with the wood. This was described by tasting young Longmorn in European Oak (Quercus Robur) and American Oak (Quercus Alba) and in a series of different size of barrels to see how this affects flavours and aromas. These were all then compared with Grain whiskies, and finally in the final products of Longmorn 16 and Chivas 12. By having each denomination to taste, Dave and Bernard were able to describe not only the influence of the process- for example fermentation of barley creates certain compounds due to the yeast and conditions specified, and the impact of American Oak due to the make-up and treatment of the wood lend more eugenol and vanillin to the spirit- but also, they were able to discuss the complexity of the resulting spirits and the wealth of flavour compounds present. As could only be expected, the floor flooded with a host of questions, reluctantly capped by time restrictions- but of course, Dave Arnold and Tony C were due to follow.

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