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Sunday, 11 April 2010

Turning Japanese

Last Friday, was asked by the lovely folks at The Japan Society to put together a little tasting for a group of keen whisky drinkers. The event was to coincide with the opening of a brand new restaurant in Bishopsgate called Tsuru, which specialises in excellent, modern Japanese cuisine. Both Joel and I had to get our thinking caps on and pair up a whisky menu, which would hopefully compliment the wonderful range of dishes restaurant owner Emma and her head chef had dreamed up, whilst not undermining or overpowering the subtle flavours that Japanese food is famous for.

Across the 5 courses which were served we went with the following:

Vegetable Tempura (Aubegine and Asparagus)
(Paired with Yamazaki 12 yo)

Chicken Yakitori (Marinated chicken, served on skewers with a sweet and spicy sauce)
(Paired with Yoichi 12 yo)

Cornish Crab California Roll Sushi
(Paired with Miyagikyou 10 yo)

Japanese pickle Maki- inari tofu and sweetened Shiitake
(Paired with Hibiki blended 12 yo)

Toasted Seame Mochi Ice
(Paired with Yamazaki 18yo)

The fascinating thing about Japanese whisky is the incredibly unique flavour profile- no matter what age, type of maturation or indeed the inherent style (either peated or non-peated) it always has that 'quintessential' taste of Japan. There are Scotch whiskies that when tasted blind, could lead you to believe they're from another continent entirely, but you really know you're in for something different altogether with Japanese whisky.

After apologising for some of our pronunciation errors, the pairing went down a storm, with the sweet vegetable and creamy batter of the tempura going very well with the light, sharp and fruity Yamazaki 12 and the subtle smokiness of the Yoichi bringing out the lightly grilled style of the chicken dish.

However... our favourite (and I think we can speak for many of the guests in attendance...) was the pairing of Yamazaki 18yo and the Mochi. If, like us, you'd never come across this intriguing dessert before, try nipping down to your nearest Japanese food store- they are a taste sensation!! The dry, but rich fruity flavour of the Yamazaki 18 complimented this sweet (and vaguely rice pudding flavoured) ice cream dish perfectly and we were soon down to our last drop of whisky and Mochi's in no time at all!!

One of the guests menu's with scores

All in all, a superb night. For those of you who have in their collections a Japanese whisky, be it a light and summery Yamazaki, Miyagikyou or Hibiki, a peated Hakushu or Yoichi or even a flavour bomb like Karuizawa - give 'em a try with some food- you'll find the combination of flavours absolutely irresistable!

For more info on the Japan Society click here:

For more info on the excellent Tsuru restaurant click