Whiskey drinkers know that chocolate and whiskey flavors go amazingly well together. Like bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly, and milk and cookies, there is something about the whiskey and chocolate pairing that makes it so much more than the sum of its parts.
Now, these two flavors come together in an intriguing confection. The well-loved Nestle’s KitKat now comes in a whiskey-flavored variant. And not just any whiskey, mind you. The distinctive smoky flavor that greets you when you take a bite of this particular KitKat variant is whisky barrel-aged, which makes it so much more desirable than other whiskey-flavored chocolate concoctions on the market.
Land of the Rising KitKat
It may or may not surprise you to know that this ingenious treat comes from Japan, a country known for some unusual flavor combinations. This particular product is the creation of renowned Japanese patissier Yasumasa Takagi, who has frequently set the culinary world abuzz with his interesting twists on familiar favorites.
With Whisky Barrel-Aged KitKat, Yasumasa sought to create a flavor blend that appeals to Japan’s enormous whiskey fan base and the equally large audience for unique KitKat flavors.
The Japanese are some of the biggest whiskey consumers in the world, which is all the more remarkable considering how small the country is. Japan has a long and colorful tradition of producing fine whiskeys, many of which have earned a devoted following.
A large part of Japan’s renown as a center of whiskey production is mainly due to two men: Masataka Taketsuru and Shinjiro Torii. Together, the partners set about making smooth and elegant whiskeys ideally suited to the Japanese palate. The result was the establishment of the massively successful Suntory company.
Even today, Suntory is still known among whiskey enthusiasts all over the world for its excellent products. In any case, the company is only one of many in the country that produce Japanese whiskeys, which comprise smooth, subtle blends and single malt variations.
The creation of Whisky Barrel-Aged KitKat
Combining the whiskey and chocolate flavors isn’t quite as simple as soaking store-bought KitKats in a vat of whiskey. Only the finest cocoa nibs from Ghana are used in the creation of the chocolate. These are immersed in Scotch whiskey and left to age for no less than 180 days, during which time the nibs soak in all the whiskey’s rich and complex flavors.
It doesn’t end there. The casks are then rotated weekly to ensure that all the nibs come in contact with the wooden surface inside the barrels.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the entire process is the type of barrel used. As befitting of a product of this quality, only specialized casks are used in the infusion and aging process. These are obtained from a small Scottish island called Islay, the home of the finest peated Scotch whiskeys in the country.
The story behind the Islay casks
Much of the allure of Islay whiskey lies in the use of peat for flavor expression. Peat is essentially decayed vegetation that is left behind when barley is dried. As the barley is broken down and distilled, the peat imparts a unique smoky and earthy character to the distillate.
Islay is known for some truly revered whiskey brands, including Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Port Ellen. Islay whiskey enjoys something of a cult following around the world, and its fanbase is growing all the time. Although some whiskey drinkers are somewhat put off by its intense and distinctive flavor, many who persevere become lifelong devotees.
As for the Whisky Barrel-Aged KitKats, the flavor isn’t quite like anything Nestle has produced in the past. The rich, bitter chocolate is infused with subtle earthy notes and campfire smoke, much like the best whiskeys. The finish is long and satisfying, with a depth and complexity that you won’t get with any store-bought chocolate bar.
Unfortunately, getting your hands on these tempting treats won’t be as easy as walking into your local 7-11 or confectionary store. They will only be available in the higher-end boutiques of KitKat Chocolatory, limiting their accessibility, as you can imagine. In any case, you can get Whisky Barrel-Aged KitKat beginning on December 15 at just under three dollars apiece.