The title above says it all and what more can I add than just the fact that I had the honour to taste the damn stuff! We were mighty excited because the Master Chef in question is non other than Geert Van Der Bruggen from restaurant De Lijsterbes and the whole session was talked together by Master Bartender Carl Van Droogenbroeck. Below you can read a report of the Burgundian orgy. Amazing Photographs by Jochen Schollaert.
Macallan superbly masters subtlety. It is the beautiful femme fatale seducing you from across the room with her eyes. This Speyside Stuff gets its mythical qualities through a combination of things, the typical small pot stills being one of them. They’re probably the most famous pot stills in Schotland, appearing even on a Scottish banknote.
The other reason for its distinct flavour profile are the barrels they use. Originally using only Spanish sherry casks and later also Bourbon, Macallan decided to return to these origins and launched the 1824 series. 1824 being the year when Macallan received its license. The series takes pride in using no additional colourisation and all sherry casks.
Actually at Macallan they take their barrels bloody seriously. They even have a person that holds the official title of “Master Of Wood”. Take our word on it, whatever you do, don’t google it. As you’ve already guessed this man is responsible for the casks, it’s not just a cooper mind you, this wizard of the woods (Mr. Stuart McPherson) actually, literally points at the tree they have to cut down to make the barrels. The entire tree-to-barrel proces takes no less than 6 years!! I wonder how he does it. Selecting the trees, I mean. In my imagination he takes a bite out of them and chews on it. It sounds farfetched, but having a “Master Of Wood” surely pays off in the end, a fact proven by their exquisite “Rare Cask” whisky. A real beauty.
A dinner was organised at Restaurant De Lijsterbes and the Master Chef Geert Van Der Bruggen was presented with the challenge to pair food with a selection of five different Macallans, three of which belonged to the 1824 series. So te be clear, it’s not that he devised a menu and then threw some matching whiskies with it. It’s actually the other way round. Much more fun, I can imagine (because you have to taste it a lot of course).
The apero was a cocktail made by Master Bartender Carl Van Droogenbroeck, an Old Fashioned. Made with Macallan Amber, smoked sea salt, maple syrup and Angostura bitters. Simple recipe, great taste. The smoked sea salt was amazing with the Macallan Amber.
Then we proceeded to some starters made of oysters, salted lemon, marsh samphire and a flan of cauliflower. A rather salty dish changed completely by the Macallan Fine Oak 12YO. Well done there.
Next: fried King Scallop, ponzu, smoked celery root and kale. Ponzu is rather interesting actually, it’s a Japanese sour citrus sauce named after the Dutch word for Punch (pons), the father of all cocktails. Actually there are a lot of Dutch words the Japanese borrowed, like ‘doronken’ for instance, which means ‘dronken’ or ‘drunk’ in English. The scallop and ponzu matched perfectly with a Macallan Double Cask 12YO.
Main dish: roasted guineafowl, figs, couscous and forest mushrooms paired with an excellent Macallan Sienna, named after the colour, not the city of course. The apricot, raisins and marmelade flavours of the whisky married brilliantly with the bird and couscous. And as Geert said: “the whisky just begged for a fig!”
The dessert was an absolute stunner. It would have been easy to go for chocolate. Too easy for Geert, he went for Gorgonzola, quince, pumpkin pips and toasted raisin bread. spectacularly paired with the Macallan Rare Cask. The Rare Cask is made with no less than 16 of the rarest barrels you can think of. Some of them so rare they will never be used again. Really a thing of beauty! It made everybody very happy indeed, the dish as well as the drink!
We finished the meal in bliss with coffee and sweets and around midnight we opened the champagne to celebrate Geert’s birthday! What a fine evening it was.