A new business has launched in Dunkeld that’s set to pioneer a new type of event pairing malt whiskies, special gins and fine chocolates at luxury venues across Scotland.
TasteTalk, which has been set up by one of the founders of Iain Burnett The Highland Chocolatier in Grandtully, Peter Hounam, launched last Friday and will look to pair Iain’s award-winning chocolates with various Scottish malts and gins.
Acting as a chocolate shop when the pairing sessions aren’t running, TasteTalk’s premises can be found at 14 High Street in the Highland Perthshire town.
Iain’s stepdad Peter, who helped set up The Highland Chocolatier in 2006, has launched the new business independently from the chocolatier, though he will still be using the fine products.
Peter says: “Over the last few years The Highland Chocolatier has been supplying a number of distilleries, such as Dalwhinnie, with chocolate, so that they could do pairings of some of their malts with some of our truffles.
“Iain doesn’t drink alcohol but he does select chocolates to go with whiskies through smelling them. He helps the distillery choose the right chocolates for the right malts.”
As he doesn’t drink alcohol himself Iain didn’t want to host chocolate and spirit pairings at his business, but is happy to supply the chocolates for TasteTalk and have that run independently from him.
Peter adds: “I’ve set it up as a separate business but the difference is we are turning it into a whole new experience by adding other dimensions to it.
“One of the things we are doing is having very special music written and my colleague, Gillian Marsh, will be doing these live events where she takes people through the story of the chocolate and the whiskies and a bit about our base in Dunkeld.
“She’ll then do a tasting, which at the moment is going to be with one gin and four malt whiskies of different manufacturers, including Edradour, a local distillery near us in Highland Perthshire.”
Naming the experience side of the business “Flings”, Peter expects them to take place regularly at their premises in Dunkeld, though the time, date and price of the sessions are still to be confirmed.
“We’re calling these live events ‘Flings’,” he continued. “Sometimes people call these things ‘flights’ and all these strange words but I thought we would have our own word, so we’re going to say ‘come and have a Fling’.
“Basically we will group together a dozen or more people, couples mainly, to enjoy a tasting and a chat and learn a bit about all the things that we produce.
“The Flings will take place at the Dunkeld premises at set times, but those are still to be confirmed, probably twice a day – in the afternoons and early evening.
“It’s a combination of tastings, chat, music and just a nice 90-minute experience in each one.
“Gillian will also be travelling around five star-type hotels and other venues around the region and will be doing these live events.”
Always fine chocolates
Though the drinks side of the pairings is expected to change regularly, Peter expects to continue sourcing the chocolates from The Highland Chocolatier.
He says: “I think it will always be Iain’s chocolates that we use because, truthfully, if you search Scotland you will not find better truffles than what we produce in Grandtully.
“This is all about creating a really high-class experience. These days, if you want to use a successful idea for tourism it has to be high class and people expect the best.
“In due course, we will be having more variety on the spirits side but it will always be, as far as I can see, Iain’s chocolates because they are the best in Scotland, and we want it to be very much a Scottish experience.
“There will be people who want to hear a bit about Scotland and are maybe visiting for the first time, but there will also be locals who want to join in this too because, I think after the lockdowns, people are desperate for new experiences.”
Doors are open
Having opened the doors to their premises last week, TasteTalk is open every day of the week at various times, with the Flings expected to be launched very soon.
“We opened on Friday of last week, though we haven’t started doing the tastings yet, we’re just selling the chocolate,” adds Peter.
“We’ve got the area ready where we will be doing the tastings and it’s a very attractive setting, actually.
“It’s in an old part of Dunkeld that’s owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is in a very historic building. The walls are three feet thick.
“We’re open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from noon to 4pm.
“When we aren’t doing the tastings we are also a chocolate shop and we’re selling hot chocolates in small, espresso-sized cups.”
More information will be available on the website at tastetalk.co.uk which is expected to be fully updated by the weekend.