Get ready for an absolute dessert of a whisky/food pairing – well-aged Cameronbridge single grain and decadent Portuguese custard tarts!
There are pretty much two rules in pairing food and drink. Either you go for polar opposite flavours, or you go like-for-like. Our first blog in this series was the former, and this one is the latter. Today, we’re pairing a luscious, old Cameronbridge single grain with an equally luxurious pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tart).
These tasty little numbers were actually first created pre-18th century by monks at a monastery in Lisbon, to make use of the egg yolks left over after using egg whites to starch their clothes (don’t try that at home). In 1834, the monastery was closed and the recipe was sold to a sugar refinery, whose owners opened the famed Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in 1837. The original recipe is still kept in a secret room to this day!
They’re an absolute winner with an espresso in the morning, but I’m here to introduce you to a new way to enjoy them: with grain whisky.
Now, well-aged grain whisky works well here because it’s a whole load more buttery than younger expressions, so I treated myself and dug out my bottle of Cameronbridge 27 Year Old from That Boutique-y Whisky Company – I say it’s a treat, and it is, but also less than £100 for a bottle of 27-year-old Scotch? Unreal value right there. Another deliciously affordable contender is the Cambus 27 Year Old, also from Boutique-y.
Cameronbridge takes the title of largest grain distillery in Europe, as well as claims to being the oldest, founded by John Haig in 1824 bang in the middle of the Scotch whisky boom. Irishman Aeneas Coffey went and patented his continuous Coffey still in 1830. John Haig immediately installed one, and the same design is still used to this day. By 1865 however, John joined in an alliance with eight other grain distillers, which became the Distillers Company Limited [DCL] in 1877 – which then became Diageo in 1997. With the closure of Port Dundas in 2010, Cameronbridge is now Diageo’s only wholly-owned grain distillery.
Now I’m lucky enough to have a brilliant bakery near my house which does some exceptional homemade pastel de nata, so if you can hunt those out that would of course be the best choice – but any will do for this taste test! As always, make sure you let us know what you think.
Jess’ tasting review:
I decided to do this after dinner as a sort of digestif/dessert combination. I took a bite of the tart and then washed it down with the whisky. Obviously, the tart is a sweet, buttery delight, and it amplifies all that rich vanilla that you then find in the whisky. But it’s not sickly sweet – the gentle heat and pepperiness of the whisky also cut through the creaminess of the tart, acting as the perfect palate cleanser while also making you want to go for another bite. Even my mum (not a typical whisky drinker) loved it – try this next time you have people round for dinner!