In Edinburgh, there is no missing the change of seasons. The summer heat of the Festival evaporates and Autumn is suddenly there, crisp and amber. It’s bracing, but comforting, because you can almost feel the city taking some time to breathe before Hogmanay comes. Then, before you know it, the low amber sun has disappeared, the lights have switched on, and the smells of the market are wafting through the town.
In that space in-between, we at the Scotch Whisky Experience took some time to mull over new ways to make the world fall in love with whisky. Drawing from our own passions, we put together the inaugural run of Tasting Tales, an experience combining sumptuous whisky-food pairings with storytelling from whisky’s rich and peppered history. And now, as the days have grown darker, we’ve gone back to the charcuterie board to find new inspiration. Indeed, winter is a time for coming together, telling stories, and enjoying the finer things in life – it felt only right to make Tasting Tales festive.
So, the team recently met together after work, with sets of canapés and bottles of whisky, and conducted a small ‘research’ session. When you work here for some amount of time, you acquire a vast library of flavour in your head, allowing you to recommend a whisky for any customer’s personal taste. We put this knowledge to the task of imagining what kind of whiskies would work well with particular foods – for example, maritime and delicate whiskies with salmon, or rich peated whiskies with smoky cheese. We then tried these suggestions with the foods themselves to see how they paired together. To tell you the full and honest truth, it wasn’t a hardship.
Our conditions were that the pairing had to work, and that the stories to match it were sufficiently captivating. Scotch whisky is both so diverse in flavour and endowed with so much fascinating history that the test here was less about finding options and more about narrowing them down. But of course, that’s what we were there to do – some pairings worked very well, but some were just perfect. If you’ve ever been to a whisky-food pairing before, you might have witnessed this: a moment of silence as the spirit and the food intermingle, followed suddenly by a collective, unanimous. wordless sigh. Wide eyes – nodding – laughter. And aye. Everyone has just experienced a moment of gastronomical bliss.
So, we managed to get four of those.
From there, we could then flesh out these whiskies with historical research. And that we did – every distillery, and every bottle of whisky, has its own unique tale to tell. On the new Tasting Tales you can expect stories of viking warriors and great navies, medieval kings and modern giants of whisky, intrepid adventurers and innovative distillers, and most significantly, of winter. Our whiskies for the season will be Dalmore, Dewar’s, Scapa and Ailsa Bay. As a tour guide, contributing to this new tour’s creation has been a genuine joy. And as a storyteller, sharing it with our guests has been a real treat. Indeed, speaking personally, this is something I enjoy doing with my friends in my own time, so to have the opportunity to do this as my job is something I often have to pinch myself for. We really hope that you enjoy experiencing it as much we’ve enjoyed putting it together.
Tasting Tales runs Friday to Sunday at 4pm & 6pm.