International campaign links whisky with coffee, chocolate and cheese

Jo Gilbert

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has launched an international campaign to unite experts from across the food and drink world, linking flavour profiles of whisky to those of coffee, chocolate and cheese.

The campaign is a challenge to ‘Flavour Fanatics’ across France, the Netherlands, the US, Australia and the UK to open up their palettes in the hope of promoting the versatility of Scotch whisky and other foods and drink with strong flavour profiles.

The society said the campaign is a good way to get members to focus on taste and flavour rather than the label on the bottle.

“Often people have preconceptions about how something may taste before they try it –for example if they have heard of the brand before, or if it has a particularly high price suggesting it will taste amazing,” Helen Stewart, senior brand manager for the SMWS explained.

“We encourage people to look beyond factors like that and focus entirely on flavour. The coffee and cheese worlds take a similar approach as flavour is also fundamental and constantly evolving in those fields too.”

As well as placing the emphasis on quality, the campaign also hopes to make whisky more accessible by playing in the foodie trend in the UK.

“Some people can find whisky inaccessible due to the often complex terms such as regional classifications and all the different distilleries,” Stewart said.

“Focusing on flavour is by far the most fun and easy way to approach whisky. At the society, we don’t reveal the name of the distillery where the whisky has come from for example – this removes any preconceptions people may have about that distillery. We also write evocative tasting notes and choose flavour–led bottle names that help people approach the whisky through the lens of flavour.”

“We find that the younger generation who have an appetite to discover new foodie experiences are also very open to exploring the whisky and spirits world,” she added.

“Whisky works well in pairings with many types of food, whether it’s seafood, meat or cheese. There are so many flavours to be discovered in food and drink that working with food experts definitely helps make spirits like whisky stay relevant in contemporary culture.”

A series of events will take place in a number of countries, where speakers from the SMWS and from different fields of food and drink such as coffee, chocolate, cheese, spice, baking, foraging and restaurants will explore the significance and development of flavour.

The ‘Flavour Fanatics’ events begin in Paris with an event for the drinks trade and media on 24 April at the Chocolaterie Jaques Genin.

In the UK, the SMWS will stage a ‘Flavour Fanatics Sensory Symposium’ event for consumers at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, London on May 10, where food futurologist Dr Morgaine Gaye, coffee roaster Dumo Mathema, cheesemonger Ned Palmer, and wild food forager Fergus Drennan will speak.

This will be followed by other ‘Flavour Fanatics’ events at the society’s venues in Edinburgh and London throughout May, June and July.



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