Hawksmoor does a good steak; Johnny Walker does a good whisky*. I was excited to be invited to a Burns night feast that Hawksmoor Johnny Walker threw. I found a meat-eating friend, donned my only tartan garment and set out to enjoy the evening. And did I!
The haggis and hogget nuggets were spicy, rich, cheese-stuffed nuggets of joy and I cannot quite decide whether they went best with the smokey kimchy ketchup (which I might have eaten straight as it was) or the haggis gravy (a concept I’m going to copy). We enjoyed them with an apple-themed whisky cocktail, a refreshing foil to the nuggets.
The second dish was smoked salmon with herbed crowdie and tattie scones. It was paired with a My Bonnie Bell, a Scottish take on the negroni: Johnny Walker Gold Label, Suze (a gentian-flavoured amaro), and sweet vermouth. It was beautiful and subtle.
A red, red rose accompanied the steak feast. Whisky and red wine syrup mixed to make something very special both in colour and flavour. It had a lot to stand up to: perfectly medium rare rib steak, fried onion and bone marrow skirlie, celeriac and Spenwood salad, beef dripping Lorne sausage, whisky and peppercorn sauce, ash-baked neeps and tatties. The skirlie was amazing: soft, caramelized onions with melt-in-the-mouth bone marrow. Bliss! The celeriac and Spenwood salad was a welcome cut to all that rich umami.
The cheese course came with the Johnny Walker 4 corner malts. Clava and Glenkinchie was my favourite pairing. We rounded a luxurious dinner with a pear frangipane tart with Scottish heather honey, accompanied by The Parting Kiss. And that’s where the evening should have ended. Except these guys know how to throw a party. We ended with the warm cuddle of a Johnny Walker Blue Label. I remember selling those when I worked in what’s now The Scotch Whisky Experience. It wasn’t very special to finally taste it.
* Actually, several.