The aroma and flavor of chocolate is a pleasurable discovery when drinking good whisky. It’s a prevailing flavor that appears in elegant Scotch whiskies, blended malts, single grain whiskies from the 1970s and ’80s, barrel proof bourbons, wheat whiskey, and even Indian and Taiwanese whiskies. Chocolate flavors are perhaps most identifiable in whiskies matured in American oak sherry casks; the spirit penetrates the char layer to draw out the wood extractives, particularly vanillin formed from the thermal degradation of lignin, and other oak-derived congeners. In addition to wood, some whiskies derive chocolate notes from specialty roasted malts, which can lend chocolaty and toasted cereal flavors, just as they do for porter and stout beers.
Once you’ve latched onto chocolate flavors, try to discern between creamy milk chocolate through to dusty cocoa and bitter 100-percent cacao. As any serious chocoholic will tell you, chocolate itself includes a bounty of flavors and may be vinous, fruity, or offer mocha and espresso, aging tobacco, walnut, worked leather, or spice notes. These lavish flavors are ideal for delectation after dinner or perfect for pairing with the taste of a fine robusto cigar.
Unwrap the Chocolatey Goodness
Milk Chocolate—Arran 18 year old: fresh citrus, honey, ginger
Dark Chocolate—FEW Spirits Delilah’s 23rd Anniversary: rye spice, Whoppers, char
Cocoa—Tipperary Boutique Knockmealdowns 10 year old: cinnamon, sultana, stewed fruits
Cacao Nibs—Exclusive Blend 1993 23 year old: Brazil nut, blackcurrant, dark rum