Balblair with Mac and Wild:
A match made in heaven is a term that’s often overused, but every now and again can be appropriately used to great effect.
One of the oldest Highland Whisky distilleries in Scotland, Balblair, teamed up with Mac and Wild, a restaurant that serves the very best of Scottish ingredients, game and meat, to match Whisky with food.
Balblair as a distillery dates back to 1790 and has been producing barrels on the same site since its birth. There are few companies in the world that can proclaim a 225-year residency whilst successfully staying in business, Balblair is one of the few.
Balblair does not sell “aged” Whisky, but rather vintages. You won’t see 10, 15, 25-year-old Whisky on a rolling basis, but particular years vintages. Balblair carefully ages is spirits in various barrels for various periods of time until they judge a Whisky is at it’s best. Then they bottle it. There are so many variables to what produces a particular Whisky, down to such delicate details as what the water was like that year, the particular nuances of the barrels the spirit was aged in, that it takes a real mastery of the craft to produce a perfectly matured Whisky reliably. Balblair has been in the game long enough to have mastered this black art.
We were given a short history of the distillery and then introduced to the food and Mac and Wild’s ethos of quality Scottish food. Our first dish was a starter of Cured Scottish Salmon, with foraged herbs, Nasturtium, Yoghurt and chives. I hardly have to mention it, but the Salmon was gorgeous. There is little to touch Scottish Salmon, and the dish was light, fresh, yet subtle and delicious. This was matched to Balblair 05. The 05 is a similarly bright, slightly piquant citrusy Whisky, and accompanied the Salmon beautifully.
Our main course dish was venison, glorious venison! This was wild venison, from the hills and mountains of the highlands. Properly hung, it had been lightly seasoned, seared, gently roasted for a short period and then rested before being served with chanterelles, Scottish girolles, a parsnip puree and red wine jus. I’m fortunate in life to know what excellent venison is like, and this was just stunning! Mac and Wild are to be congratulated for bringing such quality to the table. Balblair had matched the 1999 vintage with the venison. The 99 was sweeter on the palate, the use of sherry butts in the maturation providing an excellent mid-tone, full-bodied, with a long smooth finish. Venison is a delicate meat in some ways, and it shouldn’t be overpowered by its accompaniment. The 99 vintage complimented it very well indeed.
Our final dish was dessert, a chocolate fondant with candied figs. The fondant was perfect, slightly crunchy on the outside, yet melting in the middle. The candied figs providing a hint of fruit to offset the rich chocolate. The final pairing was the Balblair 90. Hints of honey and raisin, vanilla, this was a whisky to savour, lots of complexity if you let it sit on your palate a while. It was so good I asked for more!
If you like good food and good drink, then there’s no argument, Mac and Wild and Balblair will provide you with an evening meal that you’ll not forget in a hurry. I have rarely tasted such good ingredients, the venison especially stood out, while Balblair Whisky really does make for a match made in heaven!
Mac & Wild
65 Great Titchfield St
Phone: 020 7637 0510
Edderton, Tain, Ross-Shire IV19 1LB
Telephone: +44 (0)1862 821273