Sandwiched between the chaos of Great Eastern Street and all it throws at you on a Friday night (from drunk revellers to laughing gas inhalers), a warehouse space in New Yard Inn was transformed into a Whisky and Game Bar. A night hosted by The Scottish Malt Whisky Society and The Wild Game Company this was an opportunity for whisky and game lovers to sample the Glorious 12.
Before you get excited, this pop up has ended, but it was so good I just had to write about it, apologies in advance for being a wicked tease. For four days only, diners feasted on woodcock, grouse, rabbit, roe deer, hare, venison, partridge, pigeon, wild pig ribs and mallard. With the dishes, 12 single cask whiskies had been carefully paired. Once diners were registered on the guest list, everyone was temporarily tattooed with a stag.
Small plates were in fact, clay pigeon shots and paired with the drams which had been carefully selected from the Scottish Malt Whisky Society’s bottles.
All the wild game on the menu was from The Wild Game Company
. London foodies will be familiar with the name – these guys won the Young British Foodies Street Award for 2012/13 and have a regular market stall at Whitecross and Kerb. Andy Waugh is a chef and the man behind the company.
The Scottish Malt Whisky Society is a members club that bottles hundreds of single cask whisky each year. Membership allows you entry to their clubs in both London and Scotland, a membership box (which includes a tasting notes book, membership pin and three half bottles of whisky) and access to the world’s widest selection of exceptional single cask whisky.
The only guns that were on site were those spewing corks, randomly, as gunslingers (in the loosest of terms) hoped to secure a year’s membership to the Society by firing at cardboard cut outs. But like all fairground games, there’s always a catch, a dodgy gun, the amount of targets you have to hit to win, or in my case a little too tipsy from the four drams (some of which I didn’t finish) to hit anything but the ceiling.
At the two sittings, diners would be treated to talks by Scottish Malt Whisky Society Brand Ambassador John McCheyne
and on the night we visit a chat about meat cuts and courses held at Thom Hunt’s 7th Rise Woodland Adventures company in Truro. Everything from skinning your own beastie, to making your own knife, foraging, cooking in the wild, shooting and bushcraft. I think the Vixen skin he has so delicately draped around his neck was one of his works-of-art.
The Scottish Malt Whisky Society is a members club that bottles hundreds of single cask whisky each year. Membership allows you entry to their clubs in both London and Scotland, a membership gift box (which includes a tasting notes book, membership pin and three half bottles of whisky) and access to the world’s widest selection of exceptional single cask whisky and the ‘Unfiltered’ whisky magazine.
Diners chose from one of three menus.
I chose from Menu Two – A Walk On The Wild Side
Roe Deer Striploin with Frites and béarnaise, paired with 35.120 (58.1%) 12 years – Sugar and spice and all things nice. A malt that is matured in sherry casks, the flavours cutting through the roe deer and adding sweetness to the Bearnaise sauce. The Roe Deer was cooked perfectly and the chips were deliciously crisp.
The Grouse, Brioche and Fig came with dram 7.96 (55.1%) 21 years – Subtle Quality in a Lady’s Handbag. Old fashioned perfumes, along with fruit cake, lipstick and leather spring to mind. Add water and the smell changes to geraniums and Twister ice lolly.
Smoked Rabbit, Sweet Pickled Cucumber, Spring Onion and Ciabatta was served with dram 66.57 Asian Delight (59.1%) 10 years. The light smoke flavour from the whisky became sweet when supped with a mouthful of rabbit, turning fresh and then savoury at the finish.
Dram 76.120 (58.9%) 10 years – Sweetie shop wish list was poured with with the Honey-Roasted Woodcock and Samphire as the tasting notes suggested. Young whiskies pair really well with strongly flavoured game meats to bring out the qualities in both.
My guest John loves a tipple and chose Menu Three – Brace Yourself, here’s his take on the food.
The Pigeon, Apple, Chorizo and Balsamic Syrup was slightly sweet along with a slight game taste and was lovely and tender. The spicy smokiness of the chorizo acted to further enhance the sweetness of the pigeon. All in all, a lovely dish to start. It was served with Dram 59.51 (51.5%) 30 years – A refined Cocktail. This rich 30-year-old whisky worked really well with the spiced-up game.
Wild Pig Ribs With Radish Salad was next up and they were lovely and crispy on the outside, but just came off the bone at the slightest touch. This dish came with a dram of Galleon attacked by pirates 3.225 (57.2%) 16 years.
I have never had wild mallard before, but I will certainly be having it again. It has a more pronounced flavour than ordinary duck and is no less tender. It was served with a sweet onion chutney that worked amazingly well and paired with A whispering dram 9.91 (53%) 23 years. A classic style of whisky, floral and perfumed, which helped the duck.
Finally, a cured meat selection which included salami and dried sausage. I am not usually a fan of venison but the way it interacted with the peppercorns and spices within the mix was something I have never tried before and can thoroughly recommend it. The sharpness of the peppercorns cut through the game flavour of the venison wonderfully. There was also juniper berries present which leant a nice sweet finish to the dish. The plate was paired with 53.198 Beware of the monster (61.4%) 6 years. An early peaty whisky, tamed by adding water, an excellent pairing with punchy dark meats.
Menu One – Toe In The Water included hare, venison rogan josh, buttermilk partridge and smoked salmon – again all paired with drams from the Society.
Click on the links for more information on joining the Scottish Malt Whisky Society
or where Andy and The Wild Game Co
pitch up, visit his website. I hear he’s opening a new restaurant in Soho soon, so do keep your eyes peeled for that.
I was a guest of the SMWS.