The River Lee Whiskey Club Unveils the Perfect Irish Whiskey and Chocolate Pairing

TheTaste was recently invited to Cork to take part in an exclusive tasting event by The River Lee Whiskey Club, An Evening of Whiskey and Chocolate that showcased a blend of the finest Irish whiskeys matched perfectly with a range of luxury chocolate sourced from all over the world.

The River Lee Hotel, a member of luxury hotel group The Doyle Collection, is a stunning four star hotel perched on the banks of the River Lee. Their bespoke meeting rooms overlook the river and a contemporary waterside terrace and provide the perfect locations for tastings and events.

The Whiskey Club was launched last year with a hugely successful Women & Whiskey event and offers resident and local whiskey aficionados the opportunity to come together for unique and exclusive tastings while discussing topics and engaging with producers.

The latest event was a unique pairing tasting with West Cork Distillers and The Chocolate Shop. We were greeted with a cocktail reception where head mixologist Finbar was creating a refreshing Whiskey Pimm’s and guests nibbled on canapes and pots of curry and shepherd’s pie.

For the tasting itself we were led to The Look Out room, aptly named for its views out over the river and the city. It was here we met the experts, Frank McHardy from West Cork Distillers and Niall Daly from The Chocolate Shop.

As we were treated to the first pairing of the evening, West Cork Original Blend Whiskey & Michel Cluizel’s Mangaro Lait 50% Madagascan chocolate, Frank kicked off proceedings by expertly instructing guests in the ways of whiskey tasting.

Taking the whiskey on the palette and swirling it around to allow the flavours to build. Once swallowed, place a piece of chocolate on the tongue, allowing it to melt slowly which will bring both profiles together. As the melt finishes, enjoy a little more whiskey to intensify the flavours even further. Try this with a number of whiskeys and fine chocolate to find the right harmony of flavours for you.

It was a fascinating experience, discovering the different flavour profiles you can create with different spirits and different concentrations in the chocolate. My favourite pairing of the evening was the West Cork 10 Year Old Single Malt & Domori Occumare 77 – 70% Venezuelan chocolate. The age of the whiskey balanced out any bitterness and strong flavours in the chocolate making a smooth and velvety pairing.

Throughout the evening we were shown how the notes in one can be enhanced or balanced by the pairing, creating a taste experience that isn’t to be found anywhere else.

Niall is an expert in his field and brought us through the characteristics of each chocolate sample that we tasted. He has owned and operated The Chocolate Shop in Cork’s English Market with his wife Rosemary for the last 16 years. Speaking of the pairings he said,

Pairing whiskey and chocolate together is a relatively new flavour infusion, and it can be a case of trial and error due to the complexities of both products. Domori Occumare 77, a 70% rich dark chocolate from the Criollo Porcelana Bean I sourced from Venezuela, has an excellent roundness and persistence that creates an incredible union of apricot jam and cream with the West Cork 10 Year Old Single Malt.

We were also treated to a tasting of The Pogues Whiskey & Pralus Chuao 70% Venezuelan chocolate. After the tasting the experts answered all our whiskey and chocolate related questions to finish off the evening.

The River Lee Hotel will now feature the West Cork 10 Year Old Single Malt and Domori Occumare 77 chocolate on the bar menu so that guests can enjoy the exquisite pairings experience.

For information on the River Lee Whiskey Club and future events call 021 425 2700, email or visit




BioAlison has been writing since she could hold a pen, which came in handy for her degree in English, Media and Cultural Studies. She has been working in media since graduating and is the latest features writer for TheTaste.

Writing for TheTaste allows her to combine her passion for the written word with her love of food and drink. Find her on Twitter @AliDalyo

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