Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Black Moth truffle vodka launch at 33 Portland Place

I'm standing in the hallway of the grand 18th century residence of Lord Edward Davenport – 33 Portland Place. The walls are mint green, and to my left is a sweeping staircase I desperately want to climb, but I'm ushered through to the cocktail room before I get the chance.

I'm here for the launch of Black Moth, the world's first all natural truffle infused vodka. I'm a truffle nut, so the event was a no brainer.

Before we sit down for a truffle-filled dinner, a selection of Black Moth cocktails await. First up I try the Black Moth with Tio Pepe Fino Sherry. It sounds like a strange combination, but somehow it worked. I bypass the Black Moth Martini and go straight for the stronger poison – Black Moth and Absinthe, with a few drops of Sauternes for good measure, expertly mixed by Panu, the Finnish mixologist.

Cocktail in hand, I get talking to truffle aficionado and self confessed 'forager' Paul Thomas, a young blond with corkscrew curls in a cream suit. 'You'll have to excuse me, I'm a complete truffle geek', he warns me, before explaining how the vodka is made, from sourcing the highly sought after black Périgord winter truffles from Périgord in South West France, chosen for their rich, earthy flavour, to the vodka's vigorous distillations process – each batch is distilled five times and triple filtered for a soft, velvety mouthfeel. 'It took two years to refine the flavour', admits Paul. 'It's been a labour of love'.

The vodka is 100% British, made from grain. A bell tinkles and we're summoned to dine. We move into a wonderfully shabby chic conservatory with a domed glass ceiling and paint peeling off the walls. In keeping with the theme, everything is black, from the chandeliers to the table cloths. Silver platters piled high with black truffles are decadently dotted about the room. It's all very gothic chic - like a scene from Anne Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho.

We begin with a Black Moth shot. It's interesting to taste it naked. I think I prefer it straight; more of the flavours come through. The nose is incredibly potent – earthy and slightly oily, it smells remarkably like the Périgord truffles it's infused with. I wasn't sure if they'd be able to pull it off, but they have. The palate is surprisingly smooth for a vodka.

Dinner begins with a palate cleanser – Black Moth sorbet, swiftly moving on to a starter of Lobster Cornish crab salad with truffle beluga caviar jelly and soft poached quail egg. It's a work of art, finished off with three big slithers of Périgord truffle. I'm in heaven. On to the main: Welsh Salt Marsh lamb stuffed with truffle, with a pistachio crust in a wild mushroom sherry jus. I deviate from the Black Moth and move to the Rioja on offer – an excellent wine match for the juicy, tender lamb.

Desert is an exciting affair – white chocolate pannacotta and truffle vanilla sorbet served with a trio of Beatrix Potterish blackberries in an exquisitely crafted golden sugar cage. The truffle sorbet is subtle and delicious. I can't quite believe, after three courses and numerous cocktails, that I'm not truffled out, but I clearly can't get enough. To round off the evening we're presented with a pretty pink Moth Flower cocktail in tiny egg cup glasses. It tastes of Palmer Violets and takes me straight back to the playground.


  1. I just bought some of this today so cant wait to try it!

  2. "truffle infused"?

    does it actually contain truffle at all!?

  3. I'm neither a fan or an avoider of truffles, but I really like this vodka.
    I drink it with a mixer (as I do with all my vodka) and it delivered a really nice rounded flavour with no hard overtones. Very smooth and moreish.

    Interestingly the bottle is corked which is the first vodka I've seen this way. It re-seals well, which is just as well as it has to lay flat in my freezer.

    I was lucky enough to keep the bottle I photographed as part of a a magazine article: