When it comes to an evening of fine dining and whiskey appreciation, Level Two at Hinchcliff House provides the ultimate setting. On this particular occasion, whiskey enthusiasts and food connoisseurs gathered for a remarkable dining experience hosted by none other than Master Distiller Brendan Coyle, the visionary behind High West Whiskey. It was an evening that took us on a journey through the world of whiskey, complemented by a delectable four-course menu expertly paired with High West’s finest creations.
The Journey of a Master Distiller
To kick off the evening, we sat down with Brendan Coyle, who shared his journey to becoming a Master Distiller at High West Whiskey. When asked about what inspired him to pursue a career in whiskey production, his passion for the craft was evident. Brendan, a self-proclaimed science nerd, described whiskey as the perfect fusion of various scientific disciplines. He elaborated, “Whiskey is cool because you get to play with all the best sciences, and in the end produce a product that brings everyone together to have a great time. It’s the coolest science project for grown-ups.”
Celebrating the Diversity of American Whiskey
Whiskey enthusiasts often treasure the distinct flavours and characteristics that different regions and types of whiskey offer. High West Whiskey, under Brendan’s leadership, beautifully celebrates the diversity of American whiskey. Brendan emphasized the brand’s commitment to innovation and complexity. He highlighted Campfire as an excellent example of their innovative approach, and their Rye, with its spicy profile of cinnamon, clove, and mint, as a testament to their dedication to delivering exceptional and unique flavour experiences. Furthermore, High West’s Bourbon, with high rye mashbills, stands out for its earthy complexity rather than just sweetness.
Balancing Tradition and Innovation
In the world of whiskey, craftsmanship and tradition are highly regarded. We asked Brendan Coyle how High West Whiskey balances preserving traditional methods with pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new techniques in the distillation and aging process. His answer was as bold and adventurous as the brand itself. “The only traditional methods I really need to follow are compliance and regulation (so I can call it what I want to call it on the label), and the laws of science. Beyond that, I consider it all fair game.” High West’s willingness to experiment and challenge the norm undoubtedly sets them apart in the world of whiskey.
Now, let’s dive into the highlight of the evening, the exquisite whiskey and food pairings.
First Course: Corn Bisque Clam Chowder with Crab Meat
Served in a charming shot glass, the corn bisque clam chowder was a delightful opening act. The rich, velvety soup was perfectly complemented by the briny sweetness of the crab meat. Paired with High West Double Rye, the spicy and complex notes of the whiskey provided a lovely contrast to the creamy chowder, creating a harmonious balance that set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Second Course: Torched Whiskey Glazed Salmon Crudo
The second course, a torched whiskey-glazed salmon crudo, was a work of art on a plate. The delicate, buttery salmon was enhanced by the whiskey glaze’s subtle smokiness. The cucumber, buttermilk, and sorrel dressing added a refreshing and tangy dimension to the dish. Paired with High West Bourbon, the whiskey’s caramel and vanilla undertones beautifully complemented the salmon, making for a delightful combination that left us craving more.
Third Course: Brooklyn Valley Pasture Fed Striploin
For the third course, we were treated to a perfectly cooked Brooklyn Valley pasture-fed striploin, adorned with a delectable whiskey jus. The tender, flavorful beef was a testament to the culinary expertise on display at Level Two. Paired with High West Campfire, the smoky and spicy notes of the whiskey harmonized impeccably with the succulent striploin. The broadleaf rocket provided a refreshing contrast, and the whiskey jus tied it all together, resulting in a pairing that was nothing short of exceptional.
Fourth Course: Chocolate, Whiskey, and Wattleseed Tart
To conclude the evening on a sweet note, we indulged in a chocolate, whiskey, and wattleseed tart. The dessert was a mixture of flavours and textures, with the wattleseed lending a unique and earthy dimension to the chocolate. The surprise exclusive whiskey from High West, available only at the dinner, was the ideal companion to this dessert. Its undisclosed profile teased our taste buds and added an air of mystery to the grand finale.
The High West Whiskey dining experience at Level Two at Hinchcliff House was an unforgettable journey into the world of whiskey, artfully curated by Master Distiller Brendan Coyle. The whiskey and food pairings were on point. This event led High West Whiskey’s dedication to pushing the boundaries, a philosophy embodied by Brendan Coyle himself.
Cheers to High West Whiskey and Hinchcliff House for a truly exceptional evening with friends! ps. there was a silent auction and someone won a rare High West Rocky Mountain Rye 16 year old.