Pairing a bottle of whiskey with a delectable snack remains to be one of the most controversial topics to this day. With a wide variety of whiskeys available, some of which include: bird dog whiskey, Jameson’s Irish whiskey, the Macallan 18-year old, Glenfiddich’s aged whiskeys and a ton of other options to choose from; it is only appropriate that you enjoy them with palatable food items. History has it that drinkers never consumed a grain of food with whiskey, but when connoisseurs started developing combinations based on the flavor notes, some of these pairings were highly acclaimed.
To break it all down, whiskey usually comes in three different flavors – light, medium and full-bodied. Food pairings with each type of whiskey differ a lot from each other. For example, light whiskey calls for salty/spicy meals, medium whiskey demands a high protein snack with it, and full-bodied whiskeys require you to feast on the high-fat part of the menu. If you’re hosting a fun-filled card night at your place, be sure to check the types of whiskey you’ll be serving and organize the food table accordingly. If you find yourself pondering over the myriad of choices available, worry not, read on for seven food and whiskey combinations that’ll liven up the atmosphere of your gathering.
Hold your horses; this does not refer to the cheese slices you can pick up at a local grocery. We’re talking about the type of cheese that you serve on a plate along with crackers. Cheese and whiskey share a couple of attributes – both undergo an aging process, and both come in a variety of flavors. This makes whiskey and cheese the so-called ‘one true pairing.’ Munching on salty cheese while sipping a spicy-flavored whiskey brings out the saltiness of the cheese, making your taste buds crave for more.
The rules for choosing the correct type of cheese are the same as the different flavors of whiskey; light and smooth whiskey pairs well with creamier cheese, while the strong-tasting blue cheeses work wonders with full-bodied Malts. For example, you can enjoy a slice of Brie, a piece of creamy cheese with a whiskey that has sweeter notes towards its end. Of course, you need to try different whiskey-cheese combinations to find the perfect taste for yourself.
2. Apple pie
Being a sweet dish, people often enjoy a slice of apple pie with a light, aromatic whiskey. A dark caramel flavor in your whiskey complements the hints of cinnamon and vanilla in the apple pie. If you feel the apple pie crust is too much for your palate, you can always opt for apple crumble as an alternative to the pie. Moreover, a serving of vanilla ice-cream on the side only adds to the rich experience of having the pie-whiskey combo.
If you feel like the pie is too simple a dish, you can add a dash of whiskey to it during its preparation and pour a generous amount of bourbon-caramel sauce over the pie for the ultimate side dish.
Ahh, this one is a paradise for whiskey lovers. The cocoa in chocolate helps in adding to a smoky flavor of the whiskey. For chocolate, the rule is pretty straightforward – the stronger the whiskey, the darker the chocolate, i.e., the higher the cocoa content in the chocolate. This is the reason that dark chocolates are the preferred choice with strong bourbon whiskeys. You can opt for milk chocolates when you’ve chosen a lighter whiskey for your drinking session. You can add citrus flavors to your chocolate, like orange-flavored chocolate, which is best known as an addition to a glass of Scotch. You can try a bunch of other chocolate flavors like mint, ginger, chili, etc. and decide what works best for you.
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4. Smoked salmon
This one’s a real feast. Smoked salmon is one of the best partners to a whiskey with high rye content. Since whiskeys with higher rye content tend to have an intense taste, the smoky flavor of the salmon helps in enriching the feel of the drink on your tongue. Additionally, smoked salmon is a high-fat dish making it the premier choice with a full-bodied whiskey. The smoky notes in the salmon also enhance a sip of bourbon (even though it is milder) by giving it a spicy, fruity taste.
5. Red meat
A good, fatty steak is all you need with a bottle of strong whiskey. The beef in the steak pairs well with the smoky and deep flavor of the whiskey. However, you need to check the ingredients you’d be using to grill your steak along with the fat content of the steak. Typically, people prefer having a rich steal with a full-bodied, smoky whiskey whereas leaner cuts generally go well with milder whiskeys like the bourbon.
If steak isn’t what you crave, meatloaf is an alternative you could look at. The smoky (or spicy) flavor of the whiskey cuts right through the fat content of both steak and meatloaf; giving you a pleasant drinking experience. Also, who doesn’t love a well-organized BBQ grill with booze?
6. Dried fruits and nuts
A bartender’s favorite, you’re sure to find a bowl of these bad boys lying around in the bar you frequent. On the other hand, if you enjoy your drink in the comfort of your holy abode, you should consider switching to dried fruits and nuts as a snack for your drinking sessions. Nothing beats the crunchy texture of some pistachios with a strong whiskey as your drink. If you have a high percentage of salty nuts in your bowl, you should consider mixing them up with some sweets, dry fruits to make for a delicate flavor balance. No one likes a sharp taste lingering in their mouths for long.
7. Pork ribs
Pork ribs are your ultimate savior when you don’t know what to serve your guests at a well-planned soiree. You don’t want to over-marinate them with a gallon of barbecue sauce though as it would drown the overall flavor of the whiskey. Talking about the whiskey, you should always aim for a full-bodied and robust whiskey with this one, due to its high-fat content and heavenly taste. Any strong whiskey cuts right through the fat content of the snack you’re consuming, making it the optimum drink.
By now, you probably understand the basics of pairing food with whiskey. You can either start by choosing your whiskey or your food and work your way up to the pairing part. Once you try different combos, you’ll start understanding what you like better. And this one goes without saying – don’t be afraid to experiment.