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Old Pulteney at Manchester House with Aiden Byrne
A moment of madness perhaps, or just a little curiosity led me to accept an invitation to travel up to Manchester for an evening of food and whisky pairings with Old Pulteney and Aiden Byrne. Living in London I know many of the top chefs and restaurants in the Capital. But, there’s seldom an excuse to visit restaurants up north and the combined pull of getting to meet Aiden while enjoying some food paired with aged whiskies from Old Pulteney made this an invitation I couldn’t refuse.
I had an excellent journey up to Manchester on the Virgin West Coast service. First Class seating meant that my trip included a meal and wine as well as use of the Virgin Lounge at Euston. The big advantage for me was that I could spend the journey catching up on some work. When I wasn’t eating or drinking that is!
In Manchester, we were whisked away to the Lowry Hotel and I quickly settled into a large and comfortable room. It wasn’t long before we were in the bar enjoying an Old Fashioned looking out over the canals
Manchester House is just a short walk from the Lowry and once there we were giving another cocktail. Seduced by the view, I accepted. Though, knowing that we’d be drinking more whisky I really shouldn’t have done so.
The idea behind the pairings is that as Old Pulteney matures, it pairs better with different ingredients. So, the 12-year-old will work well with white chocolate, oysters or fudge, while the 21-year-old pairs with Christmas cake, rare beef and pralines. Aiden had produced his own dishes for us to try with each of the whiskies.
We started with the 12-year-old single malt, which retails at £35. It has a sweet citrusy nose, with a short finish and notes of toffee and banana. It was paired for us with a nori rice cracker topped with cured salmon and seaweed salad. Deliciously piquant, it made the perfect partner for our first whisky. Aged just in American oak, this whisky had a noticeable briny character.
Next, up, the 17-year aged Old Pulteney. Retailing at £80.85, this was our table’s favourite whisky. It has a sweet nose, appley and woody with just a hint of butterscotch. Aged in hand selected second fill American oak (ex-bourbon) and first fill Spanish oak (ex-Oloroso sherry casks), it tastes sweet with a dry spicy finish. This was paired for us with a Chicken liver and wild sugar parfait, tobacco scented chocolate and spiced plum puree. Beautifully sweet, soft flavours that complemented the whisky perfectly, I finished mine without pausing to take a photo, so am using the photography kindly provided from the evening by Old Pulteney
Finally, the 21-year-old whisky, with a retail price of around £110. While we loved the full-bodied nose and elegant vanilla, smoky taste, our table voted for the 17-year over this. But, of course, we wouldn’t have turned either down. The ageing process here is similar to the 17 year old using a mixture of second fill American oak and first fill Spanish.
Our food pairing of poached lobster with smoked apple puree and vanilla oil was delicious. Actually, I could easily have eaten the whole plateful.
Old Pulteney is known as the Maritime malt, partly because of its location, on the tip of the North East coast of Scotland. The distillery was founded in 1826 in Wick, at the time the busiest fishing port in Europe. And, because the casks mature on site, they ‘breathe in’ the sea air. It’s a fine and delicate single malt with a fascinating story. I’m not suprised that Aiden, the Chef Patron of Manchester House, was happy to work with Old Pulteney to create these delicious pairing.
And, I’m more than happy that I took the time to visit his stunning restaurant, with views out over the rooftops of Manchester. Just a little sad I didn’t experience more of his food.
For more about Old Pulteney check their website
Manchester House is at 18-22 Bridge Street, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3BZ