Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Rebel's Guild: The Glenlivet Dinner

I've previously said, on multiple occasions, that there aren't enough Whiskey pairing dinners in the local area. With the diversity of whiskey now available, there are plenty of food-friendly options for a creative chef. Thus, I was intrigued to learn that Rebel's Guild, a Revolutionary War themed restaurant/bar at the Revere Hotel, was instituting a series of monthly whiskey dinners.

Rebel's Guild, which serves English-style pub fare, opened in April 2018 and is led by Executive Chef Sean Dutson. Dutson, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, has plenty of varied experience, from front of house management and executive chef roles in both independent restaurants and large-scale urban hotels. "His philosophy is to create a menu that is both balanced and diverse, that offers flavors to excite and delight every guest."

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and on the dinner menu you'll find items including Crispy Buffalo Oysters, Smoked Duck Breast Crostini, Lobster Fritters, Short Rib Ravioli, Berkshire Blue Burger, Brick Pressed Chicken, Meatloaf, and Old School Prime Rib. Dinner entrees range from $19-$34.

I was fortunate to attend, as a media guest, their first monthly Scotch dinner, a collaboration with The Glenlivet. During the course of this dinner, we enjoyed a Scotch cocktail and four different Glenlivet Scotches, all paired with food prepared by Executive Chef Sean Dutson. This was my first visit to Rebel's Guild and I was impressed by the cuisine, and the pairings worked very well. I've long enjoyed Glenlivet Scotch so it was a treat to have several different bottlings paired with various dishes.

Overall, it was a fun and tasty evening, made even more special because I finally got to meet, in person, Frederick Wright, who has commented on my blog far more than anyone else. It was a chance meeting as I had no idea he would be attending this dinner. We enjoyed plenty of interesting conversation over the course of the evening, and it was such a pleasure to finally dine with and raise a glass with him. Thanks to Frederick for all your fine comments over the years and thanks also for making the Glenlivet dinner even more fun.

The evening began with a cocktail made with The Glenlivet Founders Reserve Scotch, Madagascar infused vanilla, Kleos Mastiha liqueur (Greek), and sour cherries. Such an interesting taste, a nice balance of sweet and sour, with an intriguing spice element. I need to return to check out more of their cocktail program as it sounded fascinating from what I heard at this dinner.

Accompanying the cocktail was a series of tasty and plentiful hors d'oeuvres. The Applewood Smoked Bacon Deviled Eggs put a nice twist on the traditional deviled eggs, adding a bacon element. The creamy filling had a delightful smoky aspect, and just enough bacon taste, without overwhelming the dish. Frankly, these were some of the best deviled eggs I've tasted in quite some time.

These Skewers were stacked with beef, goat cheese and two types of beets. The meat was tender and flavorful, and the goat cheese creamy, enhanced by a touch of balsamic.

The Almond Stuffed Dates were a simple but delicious item, a nice blend of flavors and textures.

There were also Artichoke and Boursin Fritters, which the others at the dinner stated they enjoyed. I'm not a fan of artichokes.

My personal favorite of the hors d'oeuvres were the Pulled Pork & Cornbread Shooters, made with pulled pork, corn bread and topped with coleslaw. The cornbread was moist and delicious, with plenty of tender, savory pulled pork. A fine combination and I had several of these shooters, refraining from more so I would have room for the rest of my dinner. Highly recommended!

After all of that food, the four-course dinner began, opening with a Apple & Butternut Squash Bisque, topped by creme fraiche and spiced pecan dust. The velvety smooth bisque had plenty of apple flavor, with a little bit of sweetness, balanced by the creme fraiche. A fine start to the meal, and it would pair well with our opening Scotch too.

The Glenlivet Distillery, which was founded in 1823, was the first distillery to receive a commercial license to distill. They sell about 6 million bottles each year, and produce at least a dozen different bottlings, which includes a number of limited releases. The Glenlivet representative opened with some important advice, that you can drink your whiskey how ever you like it. You can add water, ice, or even Red Bull if that is your preference. That is sage advice with which I fully agree, and also shows that Glenlivet isn't trying to be pretentious, and tell people exactly how they should consume their Scotch.

Our first Scotch was The Glenlivet Founders Reserve Scotch ($35), a non-aged Scotch that generally is comprised of a blend of whiskies that are aged from 6 to 18 years. It is aged primarily in ex-bourbon casks, has a 40% ABV, and is one of their newer releases from the last 5 years. It is considered to be a good introduction for newcomers to Scotch and I would agree with that sentiment. The Founders Reserve is light and dry, with nice flavors of citrus, hay, and vanilla. It drinks easily and worked well with the bisque, cutting through its creaminess.

The next dish was Confit Poutine, the chef's own twist on a classic dish, using pulled duck, sweet potato wedges, cranberries, sage gravy, and cheese curds. This was pure comfort food, an excellent and seasonal blend of moist, flavorful duck with savory gravy, slightly and crisp sweet potatoes and squeaky curds. The addition of the curds helps to root this dish in the classic, and this would certainly warm and please your belly all winter.

Our next Scotch paring was The Glenlivet 12 Year Old ($35), which is the #1 selling Scotch in the U.S. and is said to be responsible for the promotion of the single malt category. It too is light and dry, but with more complexity and depth of flavor, as well as some bright fruit notes, including a touch of pineapple. There are also touches of vanilla, honey, and caramel notes in this whiskey. Elegant and delicious, this is a very good value, which is probably the major reason it is a top seller.

Our last savory course was an ample plate of Pork Belly & Sea Scallop, with sugar pumpkin risotto, caramelized brussel sprouts, and a wild berry compote. The scallops were seared perfectly and were sweet and tender, the pork belly was crisp and tasty, and the risotto was sweet and creamy. More excellent comfort food, perfect for the season.

This course was paired with The Glenlivet 15 Year Old ($65), which is aged in ex-bourbon casksand then finished in French Limousin oak barrels. This is a more delicate and elegant whiskey, with intriguing and complex flavors, including salted nuts, citrus, caramel and a spicy backbone. Such a delicious Scotch, which also possesses appealing aromatics. An excellent value at this price.

Dessert was one of my favorite dishes, a Cinnamon & Apple Bread Pudding, accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We need more Bread Pudding in the Boston+ area, and it was good to hear that Rebel's Guild usually as a bread pudding on their dessert list as Chef Dutson is a huge fan of this dish. I loved his version, moist and flavorful, with just the right balance of flavors. I would stop here just to have this dessert.

The final Scotch was The Glenlivet 18 Year Old ($100-$125), which is aged in a combination of ex-Bourbon barrels and ex-Sherry casks. I'll note that they only use authentic Sherry casks, which certainly matters to me. At a 43% ABV, I found this to be a superb Scotch, and at this price, for an 18 Year Old, this is a very good value. The whiskey contains a complex and enticing blend of tastes of figs, raisins, citrus, red fruits, baking spices, and a hint of chocolate. There is so much going on in this elegant but powerful whiskey. A superb sipping Scotch, though it also went well with the Bread Pudding. Highly recommended.

This Scotch dinner was $75 per person and that was certainly a bargain for all of the food and drink, especially considering the quality of it all. Chef Dutson prepared plenty of delicious comfort food and I certainly want to return to try more of his menu. And the Scotch pairings were interesting and worked well. I highly recommend you check out Rebel's Guild and look out for their next whiskey dinner.

1 comment:

Frederick Wright said...

Richard - it was really a fun night, and great to meet you in person finally! I remain impressed by the quality and creativity of the cuisine at Rebel's Guild, and their cocktail program is playful and diverse. Looking forward to a return visit.