Food & drink | The Whisky Fight Club

Stacey Black limbered up for the latest round of The Whisky Fight Club at The Clockwork Rose

FIGHT!! December saw the return of The Whisky Fight Club at The Clockwork Rose. Being a relative newcomer to whisky, I was pretty excited to learn about this special spirit. Strictly regulated and universally loved around the world, I was keen to find out how whisky is created and how each country gives it its own particular flavour.

We were introduced to whisky specialists Joe Ellis and Andrew Hawkins who were there to guide us through three rounds of two competing spirits. This was a blind test, so guests were encouraged to choose their favourite on taste alone, with the odd bit of misinformation from the hosts to knock us off our game a little!

Taking over a comfy sofa in the corner of the cosy cocktail bar, we were handed a pink-hued whisky cocktail. Described as a bit of a palate cleanser for things to come, its ingredients were a secret.

palate cleanser

The two countries in this year’s contest were returning champions Scotland versus plucky newcomer Japan. Having never actually tried Japanese whisky, I was intrigued.

Round One saw Suntory Whisky Toki go head to head with Auchentoshan American Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky. The Toki is a specially-created blended whisky with notes of grapefruit, green grapes peppermint and thyme. Utterly delicious, this beautifully pale whisky was subtle and only a touch spicy. I thought I could taste something similar to toffee, being almost sweet and very smooth.

The Auchentoshan was way more lively! This one was zesty, creamy and had more of that smokiness I usually associate with a Scotch. Also smooth, but with more in the way of coconut and spice, I liked it a lot. The Toki, however, was in the lead for me.

The competitors in Round Two were Suntory Whisky The Chita versus Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky. I found The Chita to be really light and I could imagine having a cheeky snifter of this in the summer months. It’s matured in sherry, bourbon and wine casks which gives it its distinctly sweet and fruity taste. The Highland Park whisky certainly packed a punch with hot pepper, orange peel and cloves. Nicely balanced with honey and peat, this is definitely one for drinking around Christmas. Again, the Japanese offering pipped it for me.

We finished the evening with Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky going up against Suntory Whisky The Yamazaki in Round Three. I found the leather and peaty-flavours of the Bowmore to be really appealing, and I could taste fruit and liquorice. This one was certainly the smokiest of all the whiskies I’d tried so far, but its sweetness stopped it from being too overpowering.

The Yamazaki was the polar opposite. This whisky was sweet, refreshing and incredibly fruity. Unlike some of the Scotch whiskies, I could have had a second glass of this one.

After a quick vote on which was our favourite, the guests chose Scotland as the champion for the third year running. Although I enjoy the smokiness of the Scottish variations, I seem to like my whisky on the lighter side. My personal favourites were the Japanese whiskies – in particular, the Suntory Toki. This one won above all others in my opinion – so much so that I went out and bought a bottle to add to my bar cart for special occasions.

The Clockwork Rose is known for its interesting tasting events, so keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of Whisky Fight Club. Cheers!

The Clockwork Rose
16 St Stephen’s Street
Bristol BS1 1JR
0117 927 6869
www.theclockworkrose.com

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