Bunnahabhain recently teamed up with Michelin star chef Geoffrey Smeddle to create a bespoke pairing menu to complement three of the brand’s signature expressions: Bunnahabhain 12YO, 18YO and 25YO.
For the month of February, visitors to The Peat Inn, Geoffrey’s restaurant nestled in a picturesque corner of Fife near St. Andrews, were able to take the ultimate whisky and food pairing tour with the limited-edition menu. The menu consisted of three courses which have been expertly developed by Geoffrey to wonderfully match with Bunnahabhain expressions.
Geoffrey and Bunnahabhain together form the perfect partnership. The Peat Inn, which dates back to the mid-18th Century, derives its name from the rural wooded area surrounding the adjoining fields where peat was once dug. Known as the welcoming taste of Islay, Bunnahabhain Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky is quite distinct from other Islay malts due to its use of un-peated malted barley.
For the food pairing, the award-winning chef has taken inspiration from his own memories of drinking Bunnahabhain and his favourite Scottish ingredients.
Geoffrey Smeddle said: “I took my first sip of Bunnahabhain back in 2002, when I was working as a chef in Chicago. My girlfriend brought me a bottle on her visit, as a taste of Scotland, a moment that was lovely for so many different reasons. From then on, it has been my favourite malt. My girlfriend subsequently became my wife and at our wedding we toasted our marriage alongside the piper with a dram of Bunnahabhain in hand. For me, it’s a malt which captures the spirit of romance.
“There’s a true synergy with this partnership - Bunnahabhain helped bring my wife and me together and with this menu I’m marrying delicious ingredients with three very special expressions. The progression of the dishes - accompanied respectively by Bunnahabhain 12YO, 18 YO and 25YO - is designed to reflect and complement the complexity and refinement of this truly remarkable malt whisky.”
From partridge and salmon to juniper berries and salsify, Geoffrey has created a feast which celebrates Scotland's finest seasonal produce and enhances the flavours of Burn Stewart Distiller’s flagship malt:
Below you will find images of the dishes as well as simplified recipes that Geoffrey has created to allow you to try these wonderful combinations of Food and Bunnahabhain at home.
12YO: Smoked trout with dill crème fraîche and avocado purée
For the smoked trout:
400g smoked trout fillets, trimmed of skin and pin boned removed
250g thick crème fraîche
A rounded dessertspoon of chopped dill
For the avocado puree:
2-3 dessertspoons crème fraîche
1. Cut the avocado in two then remove and discard the stone. Scoop the flesh out of the skin and place the flesh into a small hand blender chopping bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and blitz until smooth. Taste and adjust then transfer to a disposable piping bag for now and refrigerate.
2. For the sea trout: flake the flesh of the sea trout into a bowl then add the crème fraîche and chopped dill. Stir in well, taste and add a little fresh ground black pepper and lemon juice if desired.
3. Divide the mixture between four serving plates, using a pastry cutter ring (about 7 cm wide) to form a neat shape. Leave a gap at the top of the ring of about half a centimetre. Cover this space with the avocado purée to create a lid or cover. Remove the ring and serve with melba toast or oatcakes and a dram of Bunnahabhain 12YO.
18YO: Roast pigeon with crispy parsnips and Bunnahabhain Gravy
2 whole pigeons
A few sprigs of thyme
2 to 4 cloves of garlic depending on size
4 large parsnips
500ml brown chicken stock
100ml of dry sherry
120ml Bunnahabhain Malt Whisky (in the restaurant we use Bunnahabhain 18YO but 12YO is equally good)
Salt and black pepper to grind
Oil and unsalted butter
1 dessert spoon of redcurrant jelly
1. Peel the parsnips and cut lengthways into four or six depending on size. Trim so the sharp edges are slightly rounded then set aside for now.
2. You should buy your pigeons whole and gutted by the butcher. To cook, season all over with salt and sear until golden brown all over in a splash of oil in a suitable sized frying pan. Transfer to a pre heated oven at 180oC and roast for 8 minutes. Remove and rest for 5 minutes before serving loosely covered in tin foil.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large roasting pan or tin on the hob and add oil when hot. Add parsnip wedges and fry until just turning golden brown. Place tray in oven to roast the parsnips for about 10 minutes, turning them half way through.
4. To make the sauce: tip out excess fat from the pans used for roasting the birds. Add the sherry and whisky and bring to the boil. Reduce by three quarters. Add the stock and reduce this by two thirds then whisk in the redcurrant jelly and a spoonful of butter. Grate in a generous amount of nutmeg, season with salt and pepper then strain into a warmed sauce boat.
5. Carve the birds and distribute the meat between serving plates with the parsnips then serve at once.
25YO: Caramel poached pears with chocolate sauce and Bunnahabhain laced mascarpone
4 conference pears
500g caster sugar
An inch long piece of cinnamon stick, optional
2 cardamom pods, crushed, optional
For the chocolate sauce:
300g plain chocolate, chopped
300ml double cream
To finish and serve:
A 500g tub of mascarpone (this will be more than you need probably but it is hard to serve less without looking silly)
A spoonful of Bunnahabhain 12YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky
1. Peel the pears carefully with a swivel head peeler, making sure that you keep the outline shape neat and not looking jagged or rough.
2. Meanwhile, heat a sauce pan large enough to hold the pears. To this pan, add the sugar and warm it so it melts then allow it to turn dark golden brown. Taking great care, and holding the pan at arms’ length with a towel to protect your hand, slowly add the water. It will spit and hiss but do not be alarmed, this is normal due to the heat of the sugar. Now return to the stove top and warm the liquid so the sugar dissolves. Add the cinnamon and cardamom if using. Add the pears and poach gently until tender, about 20 – 25 minutes. Once done, remove the pan from the heat and leave the pears in the pan of liquid to cool.
3. Make the chocolate sauce: melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Warm the cream, milk and butter in a heavy based pan. Stir this into the melted chocolate, set aside and keep warm if serving straight away. This can be made and chilled a day ahead. If the sauce cools and thickens too much, warm it again gently over a pan of simmering water or for 30 seconds in a microwave. It will need to be liquid to serve.
4. When the pears are cool enough to handle, drain them on an absorbent paper towel. Trim off half a centimetre from the base so they can stand upright. Using an apple corer or melon baller, scoop out the central core of each pear by accessing from the trimmed base, then store in the caramel liquid until needed.
5. To assemble and serve the dessert: brush chocolate across the plate. Drain and dry the pears then place just off centre. Using a dessert spoon dipped in hot water, place a scoop of mascarpone beside each one and serve. If you prefer not to serve the pear whole, you can slice the pears in half then slice each half into thin slivers and arrange on the plate instead.
The restaurant menu also included three canapés or ‘tasting props’ designed to be enjoyed alongside a single dram of each of the Bunnahabhain expressions.
Michelle Lansdowne, Senior Brand Manager at Burn Stewart, said: “This is a very exciting partnership for the brand – Geoffrey is an imaginative chef who really brings the flavours and characteristics of Bunnahabhain’s core expressions to life through his innovative dishes.
“He’s the perfect fit to create this menu not only because of his long standing history with the brand but because of his incredible craftsmanship, emphasis on local, Scottish ingredients and attention to detail in every aspect of his work.”
The multi-award winning Bunnahabhain is the flagship malt whisky from Burn Stewart Distillers and is exported to over 30 countries globally. The superior quality of the whisky is widely recognised and the brand consistently wins awards in international competitions.