When you think of food and whisky pairings, cheese, chocolate and meat may come to mind, but cupcakes? Elements of Islay international brand ambassador Mariella Romano hosted a whisky and cupcake evening for our Covent Garden shop’s Ladies Night tasting.
Believe it or not, those bundles of spongy, iced goodness are a very good match with whisky. Mariella paired a variety of cupcakes with Elements of Islay whiskies, a range of single malts from Islay packaged in laboratory-like bottles. This is what we tried:
Elements of Islay Br6 with pistachio
With a core line of vanilla running through this Bruichladdich whisky, the pistachio was a harmonious, nutty accompaniment. The spicy and fruity notes in this whisky were well balanced alongside the savoury notes that the pistachio bought to this partnership. Definitely a pairing for people who enjoy the savoury side of life.
Elements of Islay Ma1 with Peanut Butter & Jelly
As Bunnahabhain’s heavily peated sister, Margadale needs something sweet to accompany it, so what better than the good old-fashioned American staple: peanut butter and jelly. The cream and acidity of the cupcake cut through the smoke but also created a creamy, luscious pairing.
Elements of Islay Peat Full Proof with Lemon Meringue
Lemon meringue pie is one of my favourite desserts, so I was looking forward to this one. The cupcake had a dollop of meringue on top and lemon infused throughout the sponge, with the citrus cutting through the highly smoky Peat. My favourite pairing!
Elements of Islay Bw4 with Lamington
Lamingtons are traditional Australian cakes made from squares of sponge coated in chocolate and rolled in coconut. I hadn’t tried them before but they worked really well with the tropical Bowmore in glass number four. The coconut topping enriched the pineapple and mango, culminating in a smoky finish – a match made in Caribbean heaven.
Elements of Islay Lp7 with Nutella
What goes well with chocolate? Salt. The smoky Laphroaig with notes of seaweed and salt was teamed up with nutty and creamy chocolate. The medicinal quality of the whisky needs a rich flavour to balance it out and the Nutella cupcake was the perfect partner.
Elements of Islay Oc3 with Red Velvet
Oc3, an Octomore, was the smokiest whisky we tried. The red-velvet cupcakes offered silky-smooth, rich flavours which really held their own against the waves of smoke. Rather than fighting the smoke, the cupcake worked really well with it, creating a beautiful pairing.
I would highly recommend anyone to get out of their comfort zone and try some cupcakes next time they pour a dram. People are becoming ever more adventurous and I really believe that whisky and food pairing will be in the same position as wine and food matching in a few years – watch this space.