Vamp: A Feast For The Senses

By Catarina Wilk

The five senses of human nature: hearing, vision, touch, smell and taste.
Without any doubt, our senses are by far the most precious gifts from mother nature and, basically, their reaction to specific stimuli and, most importantly, their interaction make life worth living. All of them combined enable us to explore our world and to enjoy the pleasures of society.

Speaking of this, the Scottish whisky brand Chivas Regal, well-known for being the ultimate King of quality Scotch whisky, is a specialist when it comes to good taste.
Founded by the ‘Chivas Brothers’ James and John in the early 20th century, their blended whisky is more than just a delicious alcoholic beverage. ‘With 85 identified unique flavour notes, every taste of Chivas 18 is an entirely new experience’. Its intense and dark amber colour paired with ‘rich, indulgent, multi-layered aromas with hints of dried fruits, buttery toffee and dark chocolate’, make this whisky so unique and one could even describe it as a glorious feast for the taste buds!
By launching the Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection First Fill American Oak Finish in October 2015, the brand takes its iconic Chivas 18 to the next level.

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“For the first limited edition release, Chivas 18 has been gently rested for a period of time in first fill American Oak casks, giving the expression more indulgent vanilla and caramel notes with a deep golden hue. Preserving all the essence of its rich taste, Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection First Fill American Oak Finish has been non-chill filtered.”

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Unique culinary gastronomy that stimulates our fine senses. One name that instantly comes to our mind is definitely the amazingly talented Jozef Youssef. Multi sensory gastronomy is his speciality and true passion!
For that reason, Chivas Regal and the Kitchen Theory founder organised an evening that explored the way how our surrounding affects our whisky experience. That means, by adapting the surrounding environment, our senses become magnified and by this, one can discover the true depth of the actual product. Combining Youssef’s knowledge and Chivas Regal’s utterly delicious whisky, Jozef Youssef let the magic happen!

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Cent: What made you want to create the evening you did for Chivas Regal?

Over the years I have built an appreciation for fine whisky and been fascinated by its variety and complexity. I have a strong preference for Scottish whisky as it is so well balanced (I find American whisky too sweet and Irish whisky a bit to heavy). So when I met with Colin Scott in Strathisla and we began discussing its sensory aspects I knew this was an experience Kitchen Theory had to develop. Colin’s deep knowledge of Chivas Regal’s ageing and blending process is incredible, he is responsible for having identified 85 flavour notes of the Chivas Regal 18 recipe used to create Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection, and this is what formed the bases for the experimental lab we created. Our research into the sensory aspects of Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection also led me to create a sensory guide for a mindful appreciation of this blend.

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Cent: What do you feel has the most effect on someones taste buds?

As humans we experience the world through our senses, this is how we piece together our reality and experiences. Some senses tend to be dominant (such as sight) and many of us rely on some senses more than others. The sensory experiments we designed allowed our guests to explore what they found most impacted their appreciation of Chivas Regal. Over all we tend to confuse taste and flavour; flavour is a combination of both your senses of taste and smell (which our research with Oxford University shows makes up to 90% of what is perceived as flavour). So in a nutshell – smell is incredibly important to our ability to appreciate flavours. With regards to tasting whisky – temperature definitely plays a large role; whisky served at colder temperatures may seem less aggressive but also loses much of its aromatic properties.

Cent: You defined the smell/taste sensation into a sort of good round shape and a bad wiggle shape. Could you explain that a bit for us?

So when most people are presented with you an angular star like shape versus a more rounded cloud like shape we find that if they are asked to assign them titles of Bouba and Kiki that in the large majority of cases people will pair up the angular shape with Kiki and the more rounded shape with Bouba! Fear not if you disagree – this is about perception, there are no right or wrong answers here. These experiments were first conducted by the German gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Kohler and were repeated with the names “Kiki” and “Bouba” given to these shapes by VS Ramachandran and Edward Hubbard. In their experiments, they found a very strong inclination in their subjects to name the jagged shape Kiki and the rounded one Bouba. This happened with about 95-98 percent of the subjects. The experiments were repeated in Tamil speakers and then in babies of about 3 years of age (who could not write)…The results were similar. The only exceptions being in people having autistic disorders where the percentage reduced to only 60. The presence of these “synaesthesia-like mappings” suggest that this effect might be the neurological basis for sound symbolism, in which sounds are non-arbitrarily mapped to objects and events in the world. It is also apparent from research conducted by Professor Spence’s Cross Modal Lab in Oxford that we have food related taste, flavour and textural associations with these shapes and the words bouba and kiki. So for example; place the following ingredients in either the bouba or kiki categories; sweet potato, creamy curd, paprika, rhubarb, lime, green apple. Now chances are the first three ingredients may appear more bouba(ish) to you, and the remaining 3 ingredients are more kiki(ish). The idea here being that the word bouba evokes the idea of more rounded, sweeter and fatty tastes, shapes and flavours, whereas the work kiki evokes more sharp, acidic, citrus-y, crisp, fresh flavours, tastes and shapes.

Cent: How has the experience of working with this project changed your perception or didn’t it? We are interested to know the effect this has had?

As chefs we are used to cooking with wines, Cognac, brandy, and even beer. Whisky is a drink which is rarely used in the kitchen (other than say a whisky sauce). This sensory and culinary exploration of Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection was a wonderful eye opener for the myriad of culinary possibilities for good quality fine whisky.

Speaking of good quality fine whisky, what makes the crucial difference when it comes to quality? Who else could one ask this question if not Chivas Regal’s Master Blender and true whisky connoisseur Colin Scott.

Cent: What do you feel goes into making a truly refined whisky, and therefore what should a drinker of this style of whisky feel when drinking it?

All the whiskies specially selected for Chivas Regal 18 Ultimate Cask Collection, both malt and grain, have been matured for a minimum of eighteen years before being finished in first fill American oak barrels. This long quiet maturation brings a deep intensity of flavours to each of the selected whiskies, so that when blended together and finished Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection is a mature, mellow and complex flavoured blended Scotch whisky in the smooth generous style of Chivas.
Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collections brings a unique taste experience that is profoundly smooth and should be enjoyed and shared by its drinkers, to fully appreciate the rich depth and harmonious orchestra of flavours that are in every mouthful.

Cent: Could you explain in a little detail only, what first fill American Oak finish means?

The term ‘First Fill American Oak finish’ when referring to Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection means that the original Chivas 18 Year Old Scotch whisky is blended to capture the high quality richness and complexity of flavour that we all love, and as an additional ‘finishing’ step is placed for a period of time in an American oak cask. It also means that each American oak cask we have selected to ‘finish’ this liquid hasn’t been used for the maturation of Scotch whisky before.  The wood, with its high vanillin content, helps to beautifully magnify the indulgent vanilla and caramel notes of Chivas Regal 18 Year Old, for enhanced sweetness.  Each limited edition following this will be finished in a different type of first fill wooden cask to magnify another core selection of the 85 flavours palate of Chivas Regal 18.

Cent: What can the colour of a whisky like this tell you about it before you actually sip it? In other words are there colours a drinker should be looking for when seeking a new whisky to try?

After distillation the new spirit, both malt and grain, is a clear colourless liquid that has an abundance of natural characters which are unique to the distillery where it was distilled. During the long quiet maturation in oak casks, the spirit will pick up natural colour from the different casks.
The natural colour imparted from a sherry cask will be a deep dark amber colour, whereas the natural colour imparted from an American white oak barrel is a rich golden colour. The intensity of the natural colour will depend on whether the cask is a first, second or a third fill. The more times a cask is used the less colour is extracted from the wood. Therefore the colour of Chivas Regal 18 Ultimate Cask Collections is the result of selecting all the different casks of whiskies and then finishing the blend in American white oak barrels to present a bright clear golden amber colour.
In general, the colour is relevant for the overall pleasant appearance of the whisky, but most important of all, it is the actual taste experience that tells you all about the whisky. Discovering the whiskies you prefer and enjoy is an exciting adventure, and Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection First Fill American Oak Finish delivers a wonderful taste experience in every drop.

Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection First Fill American Oak Finish is available in Global Travel Retail from 1st October 2015. This first edition will be followed with two further editions in the collection to be launched 18 months apart.

Let’s us go back to the beginning. Our senses. We do all agree that humans are attracted by beauty. Our eyes, meaning our vision make us feel drawn to something.
The world’s favourite Italian liqueur brand DISARONNO is not only well-known for its famous amaretto-flavoured and almond-tasted liqueur, but also for its iconic packaging.
DISARONNO teamed up with Italian designer Roberto Cavalli to produce a limited edition bottle for the upcoming Christmas season. The Italian luxury brand, well-known for its iconic animal prints and colourful designs has revamped the iconic liqueur bottle with prints of its SS 2015 Pre Collection and make it not only a real treat for the eyes, but also a delicious present (hint: don’t forget to try the cocktail recipe further down below).

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image: taken in the .Cent office

DISARONNO Cavalli Sour’ cocktail

1 ½ oz Disaronno
1 oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Sugar syrup
1 ½ oz Prosecco
10 dashes angostura

Another beautiful collaboration that is worth mentioning is definitely GRAZIA Magazine and Tia Maria. The liqueur brand Tia Maria launched a special limited edition pack to celebrate the magazine’s 10th birthday.
A beautiful design, vibrant colours and the taste of Tia Maria’s divine liqueur. Do you need any more reasons to treat yourself? We don’t think so!

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Christmas is right around the corner. Are you hosting a Christmas party soon? You have guests coming over during holiday season and you want to impress them with your impressive barkeeper skills? Well, what a perfect excuse to have a look at SodaStream’s newly launched high-tech cocktail device which will surely lead to admiring looks.
SodaStream MIX corresponds with the growing trend for more advanced and professional home entertainment devices and products in food and drink. With its digital interface, App and Wi-Fi connectivity the SodaStream MIX is fully integrated into the Internet of Things, providing new opportunities for both professional bar tenders and sophisticated home users.” Cocktails 2.0 so to say!

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As you can see, cocktails are always a good idea!
To make it even more fun, Tim Federle’s humorous cocktail book is a nice way of adding some Hollywood glamour to your party. Gone with the Gin pays tribute to history’s most quotable films and offers 50 delicious drinks that are all inspired by these iconic and unforgettable Hollywood blockbusters.

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Another drink that you should definitely add to your cocktail bar collection is Portobello Road Gin’s famous gin. Indulge yourself and try the delicious recipe further down below. A gin-tastic taste experience is guaranteed!

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Amaretti and Pecan Shake

You will need:

37.5mls Portobello Road Gin
18.75mls Amaretto
3 Amaretti Biscuits
8 Pecan Nuts
2 Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
Small scoop crushed ice
a drink or food blender
Aerosol cream
Cherry for garnish

Mix all the ingredients together, blend them and serve the drink in a milkshake glass. Easy!

To round up our feast for the senses, nothing else completes a great evening more than the rich and warm scent of a lighted candle. To maintain the common thread, a Bourbon Oak Smoked Candle is the perfect addition to unwind with a glass of your favourite Bourbon in your hand.

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