Chocolate and Scotch
Some people’s idea of heaven is a fine whiskey, great chocolate and a good cigar. By the way, enjoy fine Scotch in a snifter or a wine glass rather than a rocks glass—it’s better for nosing the aromas. Photo by László Rákoskerti | IST.




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KAREN HOCHMAN is the Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE. PETER ROT is its Chocolate Specialist.


December 2007

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Chocolate

Pairing Chocolate & Scotch

Whiskey And Chocolate


CAPSULE REPORT: Pairing chocolates with wine and spirits is even more enjoyable than eating chocolates by themselves. If you haven’t already seen our wine, spirits and chocolate pairing guide, take a look. Below, a particular evening we spent with Laphroaig single malt scotch, known for its smoky peat flavor and creamy sweet oak, and some smoky, creamy single-origin chocolates.

You want to match a chocolate that goes with the whiskey. When you’re drinking a blended Scotch it may not make that much of a difference. But single malts have very particular flavor profiles. They can be herbal, grassy, fruity or smoky. Single origin chocolates can be the same way. As with wine (and coffee), they take their character from the terroir and microclimate. Just as you pair your wine to the weight, sauces and seasonings of your dish, for the most pleasurable experience, you should do the same with your chocolate.

Laphroaig & Chocolate Pairings

Recently we sat down with a panel of three Scotches from one of our favorite single-malt producers, Laphroaig: the 10-year, Quarter Cask and 30-year. Laphroaig is a startling Scotch if you’ve never experienced it—smoky and peaty flavors (think cigars and lapsang-souchong tea). We started by tasting some blended chocolates from a top chocolate producer, and the combination didn’t sing.

So, we went to single origin cacao. When you have a smoky whiskey, look for a smoky chocolate. Java, Indonesia, Sao Tome (an island off the west coast of Africa) and Vanuatu (a South Pacific island near Australia) are known for growing beans that have smoky flavor notes. Mostly, the flavor comes from the terroir, but sometimes it can be enhanced through gas dryers (as opposed to naturally air-drying the beans).

The Origin Chocolates

Here are some worthy chocolate mates for Laphroaig. See how many you can acquire for a tasting. If you want to see how smoky chocolates compare to other styles of chocolate (or, to try other styles of chocolate with a different profile of whiskey), select some bars from our Chocolate 101 article, where we group bars by flavor profile, including fruity and sharp, nutty and woody, tart and tangy and sweet and spicy. Here are the smoky boys:

  • Pralus: Java 75%, Djakarta 75%, Sao Tome 75%, Fortissima (blended)
    Pralus used to make a Vanuatu 75%, from the island nation in the South Pacific Ocean near Australia. But there have been sourcing problems; if you can find it, grab it. Pralus is one of the great chocolatiers of France—and the world; his style is a dark roast of beans that many people find too severe (if you love espresso, you’ll like Pralus). Read more about Pralus in our House Tour, a review of the great chocolate houses of the world.
  • Michel Cluizel: Tamarina 70%, Vila Gracinda 67%
    Cluizel had sourcing problems with its Sao Tome Tamarina beans, and replaced the bar this year with beans from the Vila Gracinda plantation also in Sao Tome. Tamarina has grassy and licorice notes; the Vila Gracinda has earthy notes along with the licorice notes in the bar. Michel Cluizel is one of our favorite producers of single origin cacao, and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. You an also read about this great chocolatier in our House Tour article.
  • Neuhaus: Sao Tome 75%
    This bar is highly smoky, with fruity and green olive notes.
  • Bonnat: Asfarth 65%
    Bonnat is a dark milk chocolate. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, the chocolate has milk in it—i.e., it’s milk chocolate—but it has a higher cacao content. In this case, it has the cacao content of a semisweet or bittersweet chocolate bar, depending on whose scale you use, while keeping the creaminess of a milk bar. It’s a great experience! Read more about Bonnat in our House Tour. Bonnat chocolates are also certified kosher.
  • L’Artisan du Chocolat: Madong 70%
    A smoky, leathery notes from beans grown in Madong, New Guinea. This brand is London-based and not easy to find in the U.S. Connoisseurs have it shipped in, but it may be easier to have a London-bound friend pick some up for you.

Have A Tasting Party

It’s easy and fun to have a Scotch and chocolate tasting party. Just follow the instructions for our chocolate and wine tasting party.

Learn More About The Flavors Of Chocolate

If you’d like to learn more about the flavors of chocolate, see these two helpful articles:


Pairing Scotch With Dinner Menus

If you’d like to have a dinner party that’s all Laphroaig, here are some menu ideas from other Laphroaig dinners.

Single Malt “Scotch Social”
Served at Neomis restaurant at The Trump International Sonesta Beach Resort:

  • Wood Grilled Duck
    Marinated in Dalmore 21 Years Old and Glazed In Drambuie
    With Curried Root Vegetables
    Dalmore 12 Years Old Highland Malt Whisky
  • Lamb Loin Cigars
    Roasted New Zealand Lamb en fuille de bricke
    Spiced Vanilla Pear Chutney and Country Braised Greens
    Dalmore 21 Years Old Highland Malt Whisky
  • Chirashi Zushi
    Black Mustard Rubbed Salmon Over Jerez Vinegar Barley
    With Grilled Shiitakes and Smoked Chile Mayo
    Laphroaig 10 Year Old
  • Black Ginger Cake
    Bittersweet Chocolate stuffed with Ginger Truffle
    Topped With Cigar Malt & Hazelnut Brittle
    Dalmore Cigar Malt

Scotch Dinner at Gallery M in Tampa, Florida
Catered by Wayl Of A Time

  • Hors d’Oeuvres
    Scotch Egg
    Arbroath Toasties
    Dalmore-Infused Terrine d’Foie Gras
  • Cock a Leekie Soup
    Crispy Fried Leeks
    Dalmore 12 Year Old
  • Grilled Scottish Salmon
    Verjus Braised Cardoons, Chayote Squash, Smoked Tomato Beurre Blanc
    Laphroaig 10 Year Old
  • Wood Fired Elk Loin
    Purée of Truffle Parsnips, Baby Carrots, Laphroaig Demi-Glace
    Laphroaig 15 Year Old
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake
    Scotch-Infused Vanilla Ice Cream, Wayl Tuille; Caramel Sauce
    Dalmore Cigar Malt

Scotch Dinner at Buckley’s, Merrimack, New Hampshire  

  • Hors d’Oeuvres  
    Tenderloin Toasts With Hoisin Whiskey Sauce
    Laphroaig-Glazed Scallops
    Scotch-Infused Foie Gras Canapés
  • Scotch-Infused Venison & Dried Fruit Terrine On Toasted Brioche
    With An Onion Fig Relish
    Dalmore 12 Year Old
  • Smoked Salmon Ravioli With A Whiskey Cream Sauce
    Laphroaig 12 Year Old
  • Sugar Cured Filet With Potato Pancake, Quarter Cask Demi-Glace And Caramelized Onion-Dijon Butter
    Laphroaig Quarter Cask
  • Chocolate Cigar With Vanilla Scotch Ice Cream
    Dalmore Cigar Malt

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