Not my usual type of review – but every once in a while I like to indulge my partner in wine’s preference. Besides there is nothing more southern than brown liquor. Fork & Fire (website) held a Bourbon and Whisky dinner in late November 2023.
Jefferson Ocean Bourbon
Paired with Grilled Octopus & Romesco Sauce
This is Voyage 28, for those of you counting. [If you want to see the map of where the ship went, check out this webpage.] I admit the idea of aging alcohol on a ship is a somewhat novel one, but having Kelt’s XO (brandy) at home, I wasn’t as impressed as I should have been.
I was supposed to get flavors of salt and ginger, but I did not. I did get a deep sugar flavor after I got the alcohol off the nose. I did quite enjoy the scent. As it breathes it loses the alcohol overtones and you get what you’d expect – a mellow caramelized sugar scent.
As you can see by the picture, the sauce on the octopus is chimichurri. The octopus was sou vide and then grilled. The bourbon brought out the green of the chimichurri and the chimichurri brought out the smokiness of the bourbon. The octopus brought out the peat scent and flavor which gave it a very harsh scotch-like finish for me.
Castle & Key Restoration Rye
Paired with Blue Cheese Grilled Endive Wedge with Candied Pecans
This rye from E.H. Taylor was aged barely 4 years. Now, I’m a fan of rye. And this was a good one – not one that needed to be turned into an old fashioned, but could be enjoyed neat. It was a soft and floral scent with no alcohol on the nose. There is some undertones of caramel beneath the florals. Overall, a good rye.
The salad itself is craveable. The blue cheese brought out the sweetness in both the endive and the rye. The rye made the spiciness of the endive stand out.
Personally, I’d pair this rye with butter blackened sea scallops – so just seared scallops with brown butter.
Suntory Tokiese Japanese Whiskey
Caramelized Scallops with Mushroom Risotto
As the meal progressed, we moved up in proof. This is 86 proof, compared to the Jeffersons which is 45% ABV (alcohol by volume – aka proof). Tokiese is pronounced Toe-kee.
It was a very floral scent with no alcohol (or my nose had become blind to it). I also got some brown sugar. Interestingly, my partner in wine (well bourbon for the night) got cantaloupe and honeysuckle. I can see that. The rep said we should get green apple on the scent and grapefruit on the taste.
I got grapefruit on the finish, but also had high alcohol on the tongue but letting it sit a moment when the alcohol dissipated, I got a nice soft honey flavor.
I’m not sure what to make of this dish. One scallop was plain (and dry), the other was coated with some sort of seaweed. And there was a tempura shrimp. It was a bit like an Iron Chef dish – but I couldn’t find the secret ingredient. The scallop (dry) brought out the apple flavor of the whiskey and it wasn’t bad with the scallop with seaweed. It became quite harsh with the shrimps sweetness. And it was “okay” with the risotto.
Noahs Mill Bourbon by Willett
12-Hour Baby Back Ribs & Double Baked Potato
I didn’t make too many notes on this bourbon as I was too busy enjoying it. It smelled like French toast with blackberry jam.
This is from the last family owned distillery in Kentucky. The same family has owned it since 1935. It’s cask strength and has the oldest whiskey blend they have in it. And the rep noted that it stands up to dilution. Though, why you would want to dilute something as tasty as this is beyond me.
I could taste baking spices and it paired well with the ribs, and brought out the spice in the ribs. It didn’t hurt that rib’s sauce had a bit of the bourbon in it.
Monkey Shoulder Blended Whiskey
Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Bacon Graham Crust
Having had a bottle of this at home, I was curious to see if I’d feel the same about it.
It was really fruity on the nose, but still super heavy on the peat flavor. And personally, I’m not a fan of peat. The peanut butter (not one of my favorite flavors) smoothed out the whiskey and made it almost drinkable – seriously – just almost.
I think this was one of the first dinners Fire & Fork had done, as the kitchen was chaotic. It didn’t help that the Cowboys were playing and half the restaurant is a bar. So, that made it hard to hear some of the reps speak.
It was a good leaning experience for me. And I’ve stopped feeling so weird about sitting and taking notes during a dinner. Unfortunately, most of the choices were not for me and thus my partner in wine got to enjoy them. He quite likes peat. All in all, he enjoyed the dinner and that’s all that matters (it was to celebrate his birthday – but we didn’t tell anyone.. he’s shy that way). I’m looking forward to what else Fork & Fire (website) has in store in 2024 in the way of pairing dinners.