Whisky Magazine Issue 3
This article is 16 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.
Copyright Whisky Magazine © 1999-2015. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.
Whisky is not just whisky, says Claire Macdonald, proprietor of Kinloch Lodge on Skye. What's great with smoked fish might not work with pudding.
Until 15 years ago I had seldom used whisky in cooking. Brandy, yes; wine, of course; rum, calvados – all these and frequently. But not whisky. What kick-started me into using whisky in the kitchen was an invitation to do a cooking demonstration for the Scotch Whisky Association. I began to experiment, and became more enthused with each recipe I adapted. Whisky proved surprisingly versatile; I discovered that it complements a wide variety of foods, both savoury and sweet.
But whisky varies enormously, possibly more than any other alcohol with which we cook. Brandy is brandy from a taste point of view in combination with food, but with whisky one can exploit the differences. For example, I prefer to use a lighter whisky, such as Highland Park, with smoked fish, whereas a more densely flavoured whisky, such as an Islay malt, is, to my taste, better suited to red meat. On the other hand, I like our local whisky here in Skye, Talisker, for the pheasant (or chicken) breasts in creamy sauce with its hint of curry. I also like to use a Spey or Orkney malt in sweet recipes. Whisky, lemon and honey in combination have uses far beyond their medicinal function. Mind you, as far as a remedy goes for soothing the symptoms of a common cold, it is really impossible to beat a properly made hot toddy. Perhaps Whisky Magazine should do its own investigation of the medicinal aspects of whisky: I'm quite sure that it wouldn't be hard to find some willing guinea pigs.