Last night I was all set to head home after work to snuggle up on the sofa and hide away from the dull and dreary January weather when I got an unexpected, last minute invite transforming my Friday night plans. My lovely boyfriend, Keiran, works at 5pm.co.uk and was invited to a Whisky Blending Dinner at Arisaig in partnership with the Whisky Ambassador - and luckily he had a plus one invite so I got to go along too!
We trotted along to Arisaig, a lovely contemporary Scottish restaurant located in Merchant Square, not quite sure of what to expect from the night ahead. I dined in Arisaig just two weeks ago for the first time after hearing rave reviews from Fiona, and the food was absolutely delicious, so I knew I was in for a good meal.
We were greeted by the lovely owner Naveed, or Swav Nav as he is known to a select few in the hospitality industry, and seated at the Whisky Blending table, along with fellow whisky lovers and a few friends from 5pm.
Joe and Sue from the Whisky Ambassador then introduced themselves and that began our lesson into all things whisky. The Whisky Ambassador programme is the UK’s only accredited training course about whisky, so we were in safe hands. In between delicious courses, Joe and Sue talked us through the different types of whisky, blending and distilling techniques, along with some funny industry insider anecdotes.
After our meal, the real fun began. Naveed set us all up with our grain whisky, the base for our own blend, and four malts along with a beaker and pipettes for measuring. We then all set about making our very own blended malt whisky.
Now I’m not a whisky drinker myself, however, mixing the blends and creating something that was truly unique to me, that I also liked the taste of, was so much fun. We even got to name our own whiskies, bottle them up and take home. I named my whisky creation ‘Blended Madness’ as I really had no clue what I was upto! However, I really do love the end result and that’s what matters. Kerian named his blend 'Whisky Revival' after his new band!
What we ate
To start I had the lentil and vegetable soup to warm me up from the freezing, wet journey into town (I must say the soup at Arisaig is the best I have had yet - just don’t tell my mum) while Keiran opted for the haggis patties with an onion gravy (which I managed to steal a bite of – delicious!).
Then for the main I choose the salmon on a bed of crushed potato with buttered greens – the salmon was cooked to perfection and served with a lemon drizzle which added a lovely tangy flavour. Keiran chose the breaded haddock and chunky chips served with mushy peas and homemade tartar sauce – I didn’t manage to steal a bite so it must have been too good to share!
When I was assured that there is a whisky out there for everyone, I must admit I was a bit sceptical, however I was gladly proved wrong last night. I had such a great night filled good food, meeting new friends and learning a whole lot about whisky. Look out on the 5pm big deal page for another one of Arisaig’s Whisky Blending dinners and get yourself along for a truly wonderful evening!