Saturday, April 2, 2011

Accademia Del Gusto, Nautilus, and Single Malt

Academia Del Gusto…a series designed by Nautilus’s Franceco D’Alena. A series with a familiar formula…dinner, wine, and discussion. But Francesco’s recent event on March 25th caught my attention with these two words…single malt. Two words that have been haunting me since my 1st level sommelier course. So after a full course dinner prepared by Francesco, I was ready to rediscover the wonderful world of single malt whiskey…

I took my place at my table on the second floor of Nautilus, a place that seems miles away from the busy Varcaturo intersection where this restaurant calls home. An interior that makes one feel as if you are in the cabin of a cruise ship with its smooth wooden walls and portholes. I sat down in time to receive one of many dishes that Francesco had in mind for the evening. The first plate he set before me was called il tre; crunchy toasted bread alongside shrimp on top of a creamy mashed potato. Falanghina del Taburno from Masseria Frattasi was the wine for the evening to accompany a dinner centered around baccalà. From the first bite of my starter; carpaccio di baccala with dried tomatoes and crunchy celery, I knew that this evening would be interesting. Baccalà found its way in a potato cake…it was comfortable when lightly tossed with pasta di Gragnano. Or alone, cooked in olive oil on a bed of purred red bell peppers. A chocolate flan with ice cream for dessert and I was ready for my lesson.

I was ready to confront once again this single malt whiskey and Francesco presented to his guests that evening a man who, I hoped, would clear things up for me, Michelangelo Di Toma.
Michelangelo wheeled out 4 single malt Scottish whiskeys. A quick and dirty run down on how single malt is distilled, we went right to the tasting. Similar to a wine tasting, we looked at the colors in our glass…we noted the aromas, but when it was time to taste: Don’t sip…chew…was Michelangelo’s advice. Let the whiskey rest on your tongue, moving it around as if you are eating, not drinking. This brings out the flavors and complex aromas much better. We also added water to each glass to enhance the aromas.

Four single malt whiskeys. Each different in age, each producer had their own aging and refining procedure. Thus each glass shared their own aromas whether they be light or intense. Smoky or fruity. Young fruit flavors or those more mature. I tried a glass of 10 year old Glen Grant that presented aromas such as apple, apricots and peach. An 18 year old Glenfiddich which had spent 16 years in the barrel using the soleras method. That after water was added, it could almost make one think of an aged wine due to the aromas of mature cherries.The bottle of Balvenie that Michelangelo presentd was 12 years old that spent two of its years in a barrel used for aging sherry. So its aromas were of dried grapes and sweet cherries. Our last glass was a 10 year old Laphroaig. Once again sweet aromas, but bitter, dry, and smooth in the mouth.
It’s hard to say which whiskey I liked the best, but I can say that this Accademia Del Gusto cleared up a few things for me.

I have now made peace with single malt

Nautilus Enoristorante
Via Ripuaria, 259
Giugliano in Campania 80014
081 8392006
http://www.nautilusitaly.it/

Italian Version


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