Chocolate and whisky, unsurprisingly, go together extremely well. The warming, complex nature of most whiskies complements and undercuts the luxurious, creamy texture of good chocolate. However, matching the two, like any dish, requires careful thought.
The chocolate mitigates the alcohol burn and more medicinal flavors in some of the whiskies, so you can taste the other notes more clearly than you might alone, especially if you’re not already an expert.
Minty fresh: Peppermint transforms and tames the aggressive nature like Laphroaig 10 Year Old
Which chocolate? Peppermint
Medicinal notes in whisky, like the legendarily polarising Laphroaig, will settle well with a mint chocolate. A perfect after-dinner palate cleanser, the peppermint combination will be an uplifting one, turning the powerful Laphroaig into a rejuvenating, restorative dram.
Light and fruity whiskies
Almond slice: Lighter whiskies paired with toasted almonds cause subtler flavours to linger with a Glenfiddich 12 Year Old or similar
Which chocolate? Fruit and nuts
Subtler whiskies that smack of orchard fruits should be paired with nuts – ideally toasted almonds and raisins. All of these ingredients complement each other: raisin with apple, pear with almond. The lingering flavours are likened to the famous ‘everlasting gobstopper’ from Willy Wonka.
Rich, robust whiskies
Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old richness won’t be overshadowed by dark chocolate and ginger
Which chocolate? Dark chocolate and ginger
Dark chocolate with ginger makes for an intense flavour on its own, meaning a lighter whisky will be lost to the punch of the chocolate. A robust dram like Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old, however, is going to match and balance the high cocoa content and strong ginger taste.
It takes a whisky such as this to stand up to really strong dark chocolate and powerful ginger. The result is ultra-intense and, eventually, sublime.’
Sea dog: Caramel milk chocolate pairs well with Old Pulteney’s 12 year old, whiff of the ocean
Which chocolate? Milk chocolate with caramel
Old sea dogs that whiff of salt and spray work well with great-quality milk chocolate. Ma recommend milk chocolate with caramel tones that will pair perfectly with distinctive tastes like Old Pulteney. Between the whisky and the chocolate, the pair make up salted caramel – a match made in heaven.
Heavily peated whiskies
Once burned: Powerful caramel can go toe-to-toe with fiery Islay whiskies such as Lagavulin 16 Year Old
Which chocolate? Intense salted butter caramel
For heavier, burned caramel-flavoured chocolate, consider a peated whisky. Smoky, burned, sugar-creamy milk chocolate’, more intense than something you’d pair with a maritime whisky, is the choc you should match to Ardbeg or Lagavulin. The end result? Relaxing by an open fire, regardless of whether you’re anywhere near a place with a working chimney.
Fruity and spicy whiskies
Hazel eyes: Rich nuttiness and a high cocoa content perfectly complement Dalmore 12 year old
Which chocolate? Dark chocolate with hazelnut
Really intense hazelnut and cocoa filling collides with contrasting spice and high fruity notes to create a real flavour explosion. The slight bitterness from the high cocoa content, the spice from the whisky and the rich, fruity flavours all combine in a taste that really is the gift that keeps on giving. ‘There’s so many things going on. Think carnivals and Hogmanay at the same time!’
Delicate, fine whiskies
Truffle shuffle: White chocolate, chilli and lemongrass truffle won’t overpower delicate drams like Auchentoshan 12 Year Old
Which chocolate? Chilli & lemongrass truffle
Chilli and chocolate is a popular flavour combo, and pairing a delicate chilli chocolate with lighter, sweeter whiskies like Auchentoshan brings unexpected flavours to the fore. The Cocoa Mountain team recommends a white chocolate truffle with chilli and lemongrass for a subtle, gentle and thoroughly warming experience.
Sweet, oily whiskies
Pecan: The right chocolate will elevate sweet whiskies such as Glenmorangie The Original
Which chocolate? Maple and Pecan
Maple and pecan is a classic flavour combination that can be found in most high-end chocolate boxes. Should you come across one, save it for a caramel, citrus-bouquet sipping whisky like Glenmorangie. The end result feels like maple syrup on fluffy American pancakes, enhancing a whisky that won’t break the bank.
Powerful, Sherried whiskies
White Christmas: Fruitcake notes from Glenfarclas 15 year old benefit from pairing with white chocolate
Which chocolate? White chocolate
Creamy Sherry and rich Christmas cake flavors could battle it out with more intense chocolates, but lose the subtleties of both. The Cocoa Mountain team recommends a high-quality white chocolate as a perfect pairing here.
‘The white chocolate is quite unusual as it’s not too sweet, and will complement, not overwhelm, the whisky. With strongly-flavored whiskies, the chocolate’s there to enhance, rather than compete.
Tasting Your Whisky with Chocolates
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.
Each of the Chocolates have been matched to compliment the Whiskies you are about to taste
Nose the Whisky, allowing the aromas to move through your palate with a slightly open mouth, allowing the initial character to build.
Take a small taste of the Whisky neat, just enough to coat the mouth and cover the palate. Take particular note the feel of the Whisky on your palate.
Add water to individual taste and take an additional small taste, just enough to coat the mouth and cover the palate. Take particular note the feel of the Whisky on your palate
Taste the chocolate, about half of the chocolate, allowing it to melt slowly on the tongue, breathing in through the nose. Note the initial flavor, texture, then secondary flavors and after-note
Return to the Whisky, take another taste again just enough to coat the mouth and cover the palate. Discover how characteristics have changed and how new ones are highlighted
Return to the chocolate and taste the other half, allowing it to melt slowly on the tongue, breathing in through the nose. Note the initial flavor, texture, then secondary flavors and after-note
Return to the Whisky, Discover how characteristics have changed and how new ones are highlighted
Enjoy the finish as you normally would. You will see some interesting variations in the profile of the Whisky.