Last Saturday afternoon I attended The Connoisseurs Fine Wine and Whisky festival. It was an opportunity for people to meet, eat, drink and have a great time. The Connoisseur’s Fine Wine and Whisky festival was an invite only event hosted by Safaricom and Radio Africa happening on the rooftop of Delta Towers. This was a chance to taste some of the best whiskies, cognac and wines of the world, indulge in some gourmet pastries, coffee and cheeses, and try out some great cigars if you so wished. The event started at 2 PM and ended at 10 pm.
It was a beautiful afternoon and the set up was fantastic. Starting with the wooden car and Jameson bicycle and cart that gives the event a classic oldies look. There are barrels all over with stands for the different whisky makers, cocktail bars where one can get their favourite premium cocktail or try something new. For those with a sweet tooth there was also an ice-cream cart, and an Italian bakery was there with its mouth-watering offers. Entertainment was provided by a jazz band.
— Rayhab Gachango (@potentash) September 14, 2016
Comfortable sofas were waiting for those who wanted to rest or chat as they indulged their senses with all the goodies that were available. The question on everybody’s mind was where to start because it was all looking so tempting. Of course I naturally started at the Tiramisu Bakery. I was hanging out with my friend and fellow blogger Mwende Ngao.
There was a program of interesting events starting from 4 pm running up to 10 pm. From afternoon tea with Martell, to Glenlivet Founders Reserve special tasting, a chance to taste and buy some fine Israeli wines from around the world and try some fine cheeses with Wines Of The World beverages, try some raw and baked oysters paired with some Sauvignon Blanc, try some classic cocktails or make your own during the Jameson Mixology masterclass or try Macallan’s Rare Cask Whiskey.
Tiramisu Bakery. This was one of my favourite stands and I kept going back for some of their delicious delights. For the participants who have a sweet tooth like me, this was the heavenly corner as it was also neighbouring Delia’s Icecream who were serving ice cream that just hit my sweet spot. Tiramisu is an Italian bakery that serves freshly baked products from breads, desserts, croissants. Their selection of desserts was just incredibly delicious and I fell in love with their chocolate fudge and chocolate twists.
At the Martell stand we tried the crème Brulee (Tiramisu) that was topped with Martell Cognac. The creme brulee blended with the Martell to create a sweet dessert and they complimented each other. Martell on its own is a bit bitter so it balanced it out very well.
Delia’s ice cream. This is a brand of Brown’s and I have to say that this was the highlight of my day. They had some alcoholic flavoured ice cream like the Cognac Orange made with Martell VS and the Jameson Irish Coffee ice cream.
At the Jameson stand we had Antony Owich who took us through the different ways we could try Jameson. We started with Jameson ice-cream from which was quite sweet. Then we had a tasting of whisky with a shot of Conc. coffee which gave it a bitter taste that was taken away by the sweetness of a shot of melted Jameson Ice-cream just after. We also tried dark chocolate with Jameson which was a bitter sweet experience. Definitely one of my favourite stands.
We tried a cocktail with Glenlivet founder’s reserve. Mine was light on the whisky but Mwende said hers was the perfect blend. It was a cocktail made with sugar syrup, infused with vanilla, lemon juice and lemon bitters. It was also the perfect opportunity to watch Yvonne Wairimu and Wilberforce Ochanga at work making cocktails.
Afterwards we caught up with Melvin Rukunga, The Brand Ambassador Scotch Whiskies, Pernod Richard Kenya. He told us that the industry is moving away from whisky ages because it doesn’t give distillers a chance to play with taste profiles. Now the idea is to play around with the different barrels to give distinct whiskey tastes. The Glenlivet whisky is a whisky that is a blend of casts from the American and European barrels. As he educated us that single malt is whisky made from different whiskies of the same age that are blended by one distiller. Blended whisky is whisky made from different distillers. This was a different type of tasting as for the first time I got to taste whisky with a chocolate cupcake. The whisky was spicy but after taking the cupcake cake the taste was smooth the second time around.
Another favourite of ours was Brown’s Cheeses. They had different cheeses for us to try including a unique mursik cheese called Amalok which is a black cheese that has been treated with leaves from the mursik tree. The best thing about Brown’s is that it is Kenyan company and they have been making Kenya’s finest cheeses for the past 30 years. They had gentle jack, fettah, goat’s cheddar, goat’s milk feta, aged gouda, goat feta, and cheddar among other cheeses. Their varieties of crackers were also awesome especially the rosemary ones. There was a delicious wine and thyme jelly to try with the goat’s milk feta cheese. The cheese is premium, and starts from around 1300 for a kg. Which is reasonable when you realize that it takes 50 litres of milk to make 2 kgs of cheese. The thing about cheese is that it is rich and very nutritious so it is not supposed to be eaten in large quantities or every day. One of the things I tried and liked were the charcoal crackers which are made in a unique process. Banana peels are dried, burnt and made into flour. Browns seems to be a company that is making complimentary products in order to make the best out of their core business, which is making cheese. So creamy ice-cream, cheese, crackers and wine and thyme jelly all have their place, and you could sample them in different stands.
— Rayhab Gachango (@potentash) September 14, 2016
We had to taste the fresh oysters from the Indian Ocean Oyster Company. We tasted them with different sauces and I have to say they are an acquired taste.
Urban Eatery was around to provide biting for everybody and this included sushi, and meat pies.
Baraka Israel, Viva Global, The Wine Shop and Wines Of the World were also around giving people a chance to taste some of the fine wines from around the world and also to buy. One of my disappointments is that at such events is that none of the wine shops ever have sweet wine, it is mostly dry or semi-sweet.
Alexander Kavita of EABL was our last host for the night. We had a great time with him helping us to try 3 different types of whiskey. One of the things I liked about him is that he told us to try stuff but said nobody should impose their taste on you. He said what you like is what you like.
One of the interesting stands was the Macallan stand which I did not visit as I had gone for the Rare Cask Whisky tasting earlier on in the week. You can read the review of the whisky tasting – The Whisky Seduction: When You Tango With A Glass Of Macallan’s Finest Whisky. Let’s just say he would have been a favourite if I had gone to their stand.
It was a great event and I learnt a lot of stuff. It was a great chance to try out the best of the best in terms of food and drinks. It was also a great opportunity to network and meet old friends (hi Kamaitha). If you get an invite to the next Connoisseur event, you should definitely attend.
Pictures below courtesy of Safaricom.