Whisky & Cheese Pairing

Whisky and food pairing is quickly becoming a hot trend to help you pioneer the latest style of Scotch drinking in the safety of your own home tastings.

The principles and knowledge they have built while pairing Cheese and Wine for years gives us a great starting point for the types of pairing to look for with Whisky.

Let’s keep things simple and say that generally speaking when pairing Wine and Cheese you are looking to unite two strengths of flavor. Whisky and cheese work in the same way. In other words, a smelly, hard blue cheese requires a strong, full-bodied Malt while a soft and creamier cheese works best with light, smooth tasting Scotch.

Whisky & Chocolate Pairing

Chocolate and whisky are a perfect pairing. The higher alcoholic strength of the spirit works perfectly to cut through the fat of the chocolate and bring out the best flavors on the palate. When sampled correctly they can be a great way to experience whiskies and even change your impression of a whisky entirely.

To get the most out of a chocolate and whisky tasting, we recommend starting by taking just the smallest sip of whisky, just enough to coat the mouth and cover the palate. Now that you’ve had a taste, take a small bite of your chocolate of choice and let it melt on your tongue and interact with the whisky. Repeating the steps of small sips of whisky followed by the chocolate will start to bring out more flavor as the chocolate and whisky interact. 

Whisky & Cigars

What makes a whisky good for cigar pairings? Initially, I thought a peated malt, something equally smokey, would be fitting. However, the smoke in peated malt can sometimes conflict or compete with the tobacco smoke flavors. To complement the dry, acrid, acidic, and ‘hot’ flavor of a quality handmade cigar, you really want sweet, full, fruity or malty drink that can stand up to the strong flavors of tobacco.

I am no expert in cigars, less so on pairing them, but it seems to me that The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve has all the boxes ticked. A robust, ultra smooth and luxurious malt that can complement any quality cigar. The big sweetness contrasts with the earthy, dry nature of cigar smoke, and does not fight with any flavor aspects of the smoke, like a peated malt might. The orange notes are pleasantly palate-cleansing.

Food Pairing

There’s always been a controversy as to whether or not whisky is an appropriate drink to pair with food, but the popularity of the idea of pairing whisky with food is growing. It’s interesting to note that earlier whisky was always had on its own i.e. without any food.

However, thanks to the connoisseurs who are pairing foods that go extremely well with this divine amber colored liquid which comes in many forms. In order to pair the whisky with foods, you should have a basic idea of the classes and types of this spirit. The flavor of Whisky varies from light to full-bodied; from a touch of sweetness and fruit, with citrus notes, to more complex and bold with strong peat, earthy and smoky notes.

According to the flavors, food is paired with Whiskies in a manner so that neither the whisky or the food dominate or overwhelm the flavors of the other. Rather they should complement each other’s flavor and help elevate the experience. The general rule of thumb is, Light whiskies go well with seafood and spicy meals, Medium whiskies go well with high protein meals whereas full bodied whiskies go well with hearty dishes containing high-fat content.

With younger generations turning towards drinking Scotch whisky, it is experiencing a true renaissance. When drinking Scotch, sipping slowly to allow yourself to discern all of the complex flavors is a must. Pairing food with Scotch is almost an art form. If you’re new to drinking whisky, read our guide to how to drink Scotch.

You don’t have to be a food connoisseur to have Whisky parties at your home but you should certainly know the basic flavor characteristics of the spirit that you intend to serve. Play with ideas and you’ll soon be an expert in pairing food with your favorite drink.

Here are top foods that go along well with different types of Whisky:

Grilled Steaks: If it’s a dinner party and you are unsure what to serve with Whisky go for grilled steaks. This pairing can never go wrong. Steaks go very well with medium bodied rich whiskies. Whiskies having rich deep and smoky flavor really works well with beef. Though you need to experiment a bit according to the flavors that you are putting in your steak and it’s fat content. For instance, if you are going in for a leaner steak a meduim bodied whisky goes well with that.

Meatloaf: Meatloaf goes well with strong peaty whiskies. The high alcohol content and spiciness of full-bodied whiskies, like a flavorful single malt whisky  goes well with rich, fatty dishes like meatloaf. Healthy meatloaf served with barbecue sauce goes well with strong whiskeys.

Smoked Salmon: Smoked Salmon marries well with Light fragrant whiskies with a touch of sweetness – e.g. Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie. whiskies. The smokey flavor of the Salmon gives the whisky a spicy fruity taste. These two flavors complement each other really well. 

Apple Crumble or Apple pie: This dessert goes amazingly well with light fragrant whiskies having a touch of sweetness. The caramel flavors in the Whisky complement the apple pie exceptionally well.

There is an excellent desert menu on our site, Cranachan which can be made with blackberries also.

Cheese

First, we need to cover how to drink Scotch with cheese. Just like pairing wine with cheese, there are many great opportunities when tasting Scotch with cheeses. Whisky and cheese share so many things in common. Both are aged and both come in so many different flavors. This is the reason why cheese makes such a good pairing with Whiskey. Aged cheddar goes well with Whiskies having a smoky flavor. While strong blue cheese goes well with spicer Whiskies. Soft cheese such as brie or goat cheese goes well with light fragrant whiskies with a touch of sweetness.

The vast variety of flavors in both different kinds of Scotch whiskies and cheeses lead to easy matchups. Spicy or smoky Scotch varieties such as the Islay varieties and Laphroaig pair wonderfully with a stronger cheese like Roquefort. The intensity of the cheese can stand up to the peaty flavor of the Scotch for a bold tasting. For lighter Scotches such as Glenmorangie, consider a lighter, milder cheese like Brie. The softer palate of the cheese will complement the honeyed fruit and vanilla undertones of the Scotch whisky.

Dark Chocolate

It may seem surprising to talk about chocolate and pairing food with Scotch but it’s actually quite common. In fact, the several distilleries offer a Scotch and chocolate flight to guests who tour the facility. For many, the chocolate can mitigate the more harsh sting of the whisky and allow for a fuller experience of the flavors in the whisky

Chocolate and whisky really compliment each other. Instead of opting for sweet sugary chocolate go for good quality dark chocolate bars. Experiment with chocolates and its recipes here, mix and match till you find the perfect match for your spirit. Salted hazelnut chocolates go well with Single malt Scotch whisky.

Dark orange flavored chocolate is a good choice to experiment with Scotch as the citrus note in Scotch will really enhance the orange flavor of the chocolate. Plain dark chocolates go well with strong whiskies. Milk chocolates, plain or with a hint of ginger or chili, works well with rye whiskies. Salted hazelnut chocolates go well with Single malt Scotch whisky. Experiment with dark chocolates and a variety of flavored bonbons and mix and match to find a favorite compliment.

Fruit

Not all varieties of fruit work well with Scotch whisky, but those that do are impeccable. We recommend trying pear and apple while avoiding anything citrus as it will overshadow the whisky flavors. You can even consider a dessert such as an apple crumble or apple pie. The sweetness of the apple coupled with the brown sugar will go well with whiskies with a caramel undertone. Dried fruits such as apricots can also make for delightful whisky pairings. The key here is to experiment to find your tastes, as you learn how to drink Scotch you will find your tastes gravitating towards certain flavors.

Dried Fruit and Nuts

Sweeter nuts will go well with strong peaty whiskies, whereas sweeter whiskies go well with bitter ones. Smoky flavored whiskies go well with heavily roasted nuts

For an easy pairing solution, buy a canister of mixed nuts or a party mix, and try to find a favorite!

When you are learning how to drink Scotch whisky it can be a useful tool to help you more fully experience the complex flavors of the whisky. As you plan your next whisky tasting.

You can’t ever go wrong with dried fruits and nuts. Just be a little innovative to mix and match. Although you need to be careful in mixing the flavors. Keep in mind what flavor of nuts and whisky compliment each other. For example, sweeter nuts will go well with strong peaty whiskies, whereas sweeter whiskies go well with bitter ones. Smoky flavored whiskies go well with heavily roasted nuts. You can go in for a premix pack of party nuts as well.

There’s a reason why you will almost always find nuts for snacking in pubs across the United Kingdom. Scotch whiskey works wonderfully with nuts, and there are countless possibilities for pairing flavors. Pairing food with Scotch is easy when it comes to this snack item.

NOTE: Anything very spicy, bitter or laden with garlic should be avoided as it will kill some of the flavors in the whisky. These flavors can stick to the tongue and reduce your ability to appreciate the subtleties in your dram.

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