Kevin Clark is a hospitality legend. Over the past decade and a bit, he has worked across the world with some of the greatest bartenders both behind the bar and as a colleague within the industry.
During Eat Drink Perth, Kevin is getting into his Whisky and ahead of one of his tastings, held at Wolf Lane, he gave me the low down on the Perth hospitality scene and why he loves Whisky so much.
How long have you been bartending?
I’ve been bartending for 16 years now. Initially to make some cash whilst I travelled, but had so much fun I continued to stay and learn more. Hospitality is great to meet new people and the majority of people I’ve met and worked with are fantastic!
What makes the Perth hospitality scene special?
Perth is such a small community, but still has pockets of people/venue staff that hang out together. I think if you can find the right venue and the right team where you can grow and learn whilst enjoying what you do, you will have a much better experience.
What is it about whisky that you love?
I love Whisky as well as most other spirits, but with Whisky there’s such a variety within regions and then there’s the romanticism with the concept a good friend told me. “With food, technology, cocktails and fashion we’ve changed the way we eat and live. Whilst the way we drink Whisky, we drink it the same way our fathers’ father did and even before that, generations long gone. We still mostly drink it neat to enjoy, savour or even to relax”
What makes a good whisky?
A good Whisky can have a number of factors, but it’s all up to the drinker and what they’re looking for from the Whisky they’re drinking. Age, Smoke, Peat, mouthfeel, colour, fruit all come into play and it depends on how you feel. Single Malt, Blended or Single Grain can all be enjoyed thoroughly and equally as everyone has differing tastes. It can be as simple as an experience as well, the first time I tasted Whisky or the first time I tasted a pleated Whisky. Or even the first time I had a Whisky with my Father/Grandad/Uncle/Mother or whomever. I believe that plays a big part of what ‘your brand’ is.
I don’t have many favourites due to fact I get to enjoy and taste so many, but a few memorable Whisky sessions have come up with some cracking ones I’d love to taste again. Single Malts, Fortified or cask strength have been awesome to share with friends.
Whisky and chocolate, huh?
Using these matchings or pairings runs along the same lines as with cooking and using flavours. It’s interesting and fun to match and change sometimes preconceived ideas about Whisky. But we can drink Whisky and eat just the same as it’s done with Wine.
Dark Chocolate can bring out flavours and sweetness that aren’t even in the chocolate, but within the Whisky. We’ve worked with Bahen & Co in Margaret River where Josh had custom made a Smoked Sea Salt 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate which pairs well with Talisker, which has the smoke, salt matching with the Chocolate. Oysters with Islay Whisky pair well, even adding a drop or two to the oyster before downing it is ridiculous! Cured Meat also works and cheeses can be fun to pair too. Smokey and Peaty Lagavulin has been matched with Roquefort cheese if you like that kind of thing. Funnily enough, these bold flavours also match well with Lapsang Souchong tea and even Beetroot juice!
What can a novice expect from the event at Wolf Lane?
People can expect and introduction to Whisky and the regions, as well as the experience of matching some of the flavours within the Whisky with delicious Chocolate from the Margaret River Chocolate Company. Win/win situation for all really.
If you were going to go to any bar in Perth to order a whisky, where would you go?
There seems to be more bars with a bigger back bar of great Whisky choices but Helvetica, Dominion League, Varnish on King, Bar Lafayette, Door 49 and so many more have plenty of Whisky available along with fantastic staff to chat to whilst you enjoy your experience.
Kevin Clark is presenting the sold-out event, The Sweetest Regions, A Whisky and Chocolate Tasting at Wolf Lane, Thursday 14 April at 7pm. For more information on other events, visit Wolf Lane at http://www.wolflane.com.au and check back here for the details, post event!