Each year on the first weekend of September, Berlin is not only the capital of Germany but also the most important destination for whisky enthusiasts in the whole country. Not only one but two whisky fairs take place in Berlin during that time. One of these, the Köpenicker Whiskyfest, takes place in the contemplative old town of Köpenick next to the shore of the Müggelspree. Thanks to the well-chosen location, the fair’s various tastings are not only held in a close-by bar, but also on an event boat and even on a launch. On Saturday afternoon, Robin Pitz of Villa Konthor invited us into the Duke Bar for a whisky and chocolate pairing with four different drams from distilleries that belong to the South Africa-based Distell Group.
Our first whisky was a Deanston Virgin Oak, which offers great value for money. After spending eight years in an ex-bourbon barrel it was finished for one year in an unused oak barrel. Besides delicious vanilla, toffee and honey notes, the Virgin Oak also possesses fresh citrus flavours that are a perfect match to a type of chocolate called Blossom Garden with cinnamon blossoms and orange brittle. Like all the chocolates in this pairing, this treat was specifically created to be eaten in combination with the chosen whisky.
Bunnahabhain is the only distillery on Islay that mainly produces non-peated whisky. This has historical reasons. Back in the day, Bunnahabhain was the only production site on the island that had a direct ferry link to the Scottish mainland. Thus, they could buy their raw material there. The nutty, fruity and malty 12 Years Old from their standard range was paired with a chocolate called Bonna Heaven containing bread brittle, caraway and coriander.
The last two whiskies of the afternoon came from Tobermory distillery which is currently closed on account of a 2-year renovation phase. When in operation, they spent half of the year producing non-peated whisky and the other half making a peated variation of their spirit. The latter, the bottle and sell under their Ledaig brand. We had a special release of their 12-year-old Tobermory finished in Manzanilla casks. Manzanilla is a dry and rather salty sherry and the only one that is produced outside of Jerez in Spain. Not only was this my favourite whisky of the afternoon, but it was also paired with my favourite chocolate called Muskat Tanimbar with nutmeg and a cocoa share of 58%. A wonderful maritime combination you should definitely give a try. The peaty 10-year-old Ledaig completed the tasting’s line-up in combination with not only one but two different chocolates to choose from. While I found the white chocolate with sea salt and caramelized puffed rice called Kap Verde a bit too sweat for this whisky, the Salty Smoke with a cocoa share of 74% and a refinement with Danish smoked salt turned out to be a perfect companion for such a smoky and maritime whisky.
Deanston Virgin Oak (Single Malt Scotch Whisky / NAS / 46.3% / ~30.00 Euro)
Bunnahabhain 12yo (Single Malt Scotch Whisky /12yo / 46.3% / ~40.00 Euro)
Tobermory 12yo Manzanilla Cask Finish (Single Malt Scotch Whisky / 12yo / 46.3% / ~85.00 Euro)
Ledaig 10yo (Single Malt Scotch Whisky / 10yo / 46.3% / ~40.00 Euro)