In the same way that sound and sight can evoke memories, so can taste, but as Elliot Pascoe from Death & Taxes in Brisbane points out, that doesn’t necessarily need to be of a specific time or place.
“Rather than that, I wanted to evoke that sensation of going to a time or place. When you are sitting in a plane, and you feel that G-force or as you’re walking through an ancient forest and feel that pine in your nose or even that incredible silence and solemnity of a frozen lake.
“That moment when you are just there, you are present.”
During this year’s Diageo World Class Talisker Challenge, contestants were asked to create a cocktail that would take you out of your current environment and into a world that was captivating. And to do that employed the clever art of layering complex flavours as pioneered through Tiki drinks.
“Tiki culture is transportive, and I wanted to make a transportive drink,” said Pascoe. “What I wanted the judges to be inspired by all these places that got me to sit up and take note of life.”
With that inspiration, Pascoe created a three-layered drink called Limnius, that not only incorporated Talisker but also Passionfruit, Thyme, Orgeat, berries and Sherry.
Pascoe describes the flavour of the drink as linea, as it follows a strict progression because it is a layered drink. “A good cocktail is one where you taste it and think ‘oh yum’, a great cocktail, is where you sip it, and on the second sip I think ‘I’ll have another two, please’.
“It starts as dry Sherry with funky berry, you’ve got this pine in your nose that’s resinous and alpine and then pushes through to this big waxy, beautiful, tropical palette that has lots on spread on the tongue.
“The finish is where the red clay kicks in and on your retronasal tasting, which is what happens when you exhale aftertaste, then you get that earthiness that just keeps that taste bouncing along in your mouth”.
How it was made
Although Scotch isn’t often associated with Tiki or tropical drinks, Pascoe belies that once the preconceptions of a spirit are stripped away, you are just left with flavour and flavour is just another colour on the artists palette and it’s used with other colours to create a composition that conveys a message.
“I rested Talisker for a short time on a piece of red clay – if you fire red clay it becomes super poris and I didn’t want that agressiveness to it, so what I did was hit the red clay with nitro which froze it and then poured the Talisker onto it.
“What that does it freeze the Talisker to the block but because the freezing point of alcohol is so much lower than that of clay, if you hang it it drips right off and gets a very, very gentle earthiness to it.”
Having spent some time in Central Australia, Pascoe wanted to marry that vast, earthy, still of of the land with the wild, raw, primal nature of the scotch.
The second layer embraced the tropical natiure of the challenge and took Pascoe back to eating passionfruits as a child in the hinterland. He wanted to represent the extreams of coast to the mountain so added his favourite herb, Thyme and then sweeted the deal with the Tiki staple, Orgeat.
“I mixed that all together and then used Agar Agar to clarify it. So you go from this really gluggy, gelatinous mess and put in what is essentially an activated gelatin which strips out the body and you are left with a clear liquid.’
From memories of travels near Helskini, the third layer of wild forest berries was derived. These were lacto-fermented before meing put into Amontillado Sherry.
“Lacto-fermenting is a technique that humans have been doing since time in memorial,” Pascoe pointed out. “If you put something in an alkalised environment such as salt water it will start to ferment.
“I let that ferment run for a little while, just to get that little bit of toastioness, a little bit of salt, a little bit of funk and strain that off and put it into Amontillado Sherry, which is a dry Sherry and very nutty.
“And then inorder to make it float because of the relative dencities of liquid, I nitrojised it. So what I did was place it into a canister and pumpoed nitrus oxide into it and what that does it give it a creamy texture without the cream. It’s like a very, very fine fizz just to give the cocktail a little sparkle and bubble.”
Pascoe had a middle of the might inspiration about the flavours that he wanted to incporporate.
“I see flavour in the way that I see colour and I could see dusty red, vibrant clay-ish reddy brown and I see yellow and green. I had ideas of colours and I didn’t want to talk about a specific scenario because although it might be relatable, it wasn’t somebody elses reality, they haven’t lived that.
45mls of red clay rested Talisker Whisky
75mls of the agar clarified passionfruit, thyme and orgeat
12.5 mls of floated berry Sherry
Add a large ice cube into a Whiskey glass, then add each of the three compantants of the drink.