Zilouf’s is a cool looking joint with one hell of a back bar. I was first introduced to Zilouf’s by the amazing Colin Dunn and felt slightly embarrassed never to have stumbled upon it before, given it is in my neck of the woods in North London.
As well as spectacular spirits, Zilouf’s specialises in fusion cuisine and if the quality of the cheeses and home-made chocolates I’ve tried are anything to go by, it will be pretty special as they only use the best of ingredients.
The cocktail menu shows off Zilouf’s dark arts of mixology, it is enjoyable to read and easy to navigate. I especially like the fact it specifies which glass each cocktail is served in, I’m forever ordering my long haired rocker hubby drinks in dainty girly glasses –which doesn’t go down well.
I made a special visit to Zilouf’s on the final day of my holiday to enjoy the whisky cheese board I was first introduced to by Colin. We had dinner at nearby Public House and the selection of four La Fromagerie cheeses at Zilouf’s matched to four different whiskies proved to be the perfect way to finish off the evening.
We sat at the bar and let Daniel look after us, explaining the cheeseboard is one of his favourite parts of the job and it really shows.
Poacher Double + Glenkinchie 12 yr old
The Lincolnshire Poacher Double is a rich cheese which has been aged for 2-3 years and has a texture not unlike cardboard – think Parmegianno Regiano, a cheese you really need to chew. The Glenkinchie by contrast is delicate, a typical lowland whisky it is light and refreshing with a ripe fruit flavour on the palate and clean finish. On their own neither the cheese nor the whisky would be a favourite of mine, however, together combination truly works and they provide a heavenly match.
Soumaintrain + Dalwhinnie 15 yr old
A wonderfully mellow ripe cheese made from cow’s milk, Soumaintrain has a rind that has been washed in white wine and a texture much like clotted cream. The Dalwhinnie is a very fragrant whisky, some have been known to love the citrusy, appley, sandlewood notes so much they wear Dalwhinnie as an aftershave. The creaminiess of the cheese coats the palate and for some whiskies could be overpowering. But the vibrant acidity from the ripe fruit, characteristic of Highland whiskies cuts through the creaminiess of the cheese and the softness of the vanilla and smokey spice balances the Soumaintrain marvelously. The apple fresh fruit of the whisky brings out the slight sweetness of the rind.
3. Stichelton + Talisker 10 yr old
My personal favourite combination is the Stichelton and Talisker. Stichelton is a hard blue cheese made from cow’s milk in Nottinghamshire, which has a fabulous buttery texture and gentle creamy finish. Talisker by contrast is a little fire bomb with wave upon wave of fiery bonfire flavours which is cooled somewhat by the Stichelton which can stand up to its long chilli smokey finish. Just try it!
4. Bosworth Ash Log + Monkey Shoulder
Monkey Shoulder is a blend of three malt whiskies and has a light gentle flavour of sweet melon, banana, candied orange as well as a touch of spice and oak. The candied fruit finish of the Monkey Shoulder rounds this densely fudged cheese and the wonderful creamy texture of the nutty cheese mellows the Monkey Shoulder. It is the textures here that work so well together.
I highly recommend you experiment with taste, flavour and textures with this cheese and whisky board and play around with combinations of your own – Zilouf’s has been lauded for its whisky selection and so there are plenty of whiskies to choose from.
Zilouf’s is not a whisky bar as such, but a bar that caters for foodies, cocktails lovers, whisky/rum/tequila aficionados – simply people who love their drink really. It truly is the people here at Zilouf’s that make the drinks come alive. The first time I had the pleasure of AC sharing his passion for food, flavour and texture, this time Daniel made our night – explaining the flavour combinations, telling us stories about the history of different spirits and sharing recommendations.
Daniel could tell we were into our whiskies and so took the opportunity to introduce us to Swedish whisky, Indian whisky and Dutch Whisky amongst others. The Dutch Rye whisky was just 5 years old but so full of flavour and with a good bite.
I left Zilouf’s with a reminder of just how well whisky can complement cheese, a new found appreciation of Dutch Rye Whisky (and Swedish whisky come to that) as well as three new cocktail/spirits books on my reading list thanks to Daniel’s recommendations. I’ll definitely be back yet again for more.Zilouf’s 270 Upper Street London N1 2UQ Cheese board is £9 and £23 when accompanied by whiskies