2020 Comox Valley Whiskey Festival

We had the honour of being a part of the 10th Annual Whisky Festival here in the Comox Valley on northern Vancouver Island this past weekend.  This incredible event was organized and hosted by the Comox Rotary Club and is a fundraiser for the Hospice Society.

The Whisky filled weekend started off on Friday night when we had the pleasure to host a Whisky pairing dinner at Locals restaurant.  We collaborated with Chef Ronald St-pierre to create a 5-course dinner with higher end whisky pairings.  Chef Ronald demonstrated his incredible talent of breaking down the whisky and food flavours and manipulating them like a painter would on his palate to create a culinary masterpiece perfectly paired with the chosen drams.

The first course was an amuse bouche of fresh shucked oysters with horseradish mignonette, smoked salmon pumpernickel bite and a seared scallop with pork belly. We chose to pair these with Glenfiddich 21-year-old Winter Storm Batch 2. This sweet, candy-like Speyside malt was perfectly balanced and was enjoyed immensely with the seafood hor d’oeuvres. 

The second course was pan seared prosciutto ham wrapped sablefish fillet served on baked polenta with a bonito and seaweed beurre blanc and a toasted sesame cracker. This was paired with Glendronach 21-year-old Parliament. This beautifully aged Sherry monster seemed an unlikely malt to pair with a white fish but somehow, the chef found a way to tie it all together and knock it out of the park!

The 3rd course was smoked Muscovy Duck breast served on a French lentil ragout with macerated currant chutney and celeriac puree. We then paired it with Highland Park 18-year-old Viking Pride. This dish was incredibly complex and had a lot going on. Yet, somehow the flavours all worked together seamlessly.  With the two previous courses it was noticed how the food complemented the selected whiskies.  With this pairing, we found that the whisky is what complemented the food.

Next up was coffee crusted Comox Valley Beef tournedos and pan seared marinated Comox Valley oyster mushrooms served on a roasted Farro risotto with carrot and squash puree, horseradish peas, beet chips and truffle oil. This wonderful morsel was paired with Dalmore Cigar Malt.  Again, the coffee and chocolate notes in the whisky paired extremely well with the coffee bean crusted beef dish and the Farro seemed to accentuate the richness of the spirit.

The 5th and final course of the evening was fireweed honey and Anjou pear tart served with a Qualicum Cheeseworks Blue Claire and a Vancouver Island hazelnut crisp. Paired with Lagavulin 12-year-old Special Release Cask Strength.  This smoky but well-balanced dram paired perfectly with the sweetness of the pear and the mild flavour of the Vancouver Island blue cheese.

We cannot say enough about how awesome this event was and how Chef Ronald hit a homerun with every pairing. We are truly honoured to have had the opportunity to work Chef Ronald and Locals restaurant and look forward to, hopefully, doing more with him in the future!

The following night was the Whisky Festival night at Crown Isle Golf Course.  This was the first year at this venue and was a huge improvement from past years!  We were invited to host a masterclass before the Grand Tasting, so we chose to present a Whisky 101 for newer whisky fans and take them on a tour through the Whisky regions of Scotland.

Our tour began in the Lowlands with Glasgow’s malt, Auchentoshan 3 Wood.  We then made our way to the Speyside region and gave everyone a taste of a cask strength sherry bomb, Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 65. From the Highlands, we poured a coastal treasure Oban 14-year-old. We then made our way down to the Kintyre peninsula to Campbeltown, where we enjoyed a dram of Springbank Longrow Heavily Peated. From there, we travelled to the Isle of Mull and Tobermory distillery and sampled another peated expression Ledaig 10-year-old. The final destination on our tour of Scotland was the Isle of Islay where we had a taste of the classic Ardbeg 10-year-old. Everyone at our masterclass seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly and asked a ton of great questions!

We then set up a table in the Grand Tasting where we sold copies of our books and our glasses.  We got great opportunities to chat with new and old malt mates and sample some fine drams from the various brand ambassadors set up at the event. We then enjoyed some heels and special drams back at our suite with our good friends from Shelter Point Distillery and fellow Youtuber Foodquig.

We would like to thank all the organizers and volunteers for a fantastic Whisky weekend and we look forward to doing it again next year!

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