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. Having it with food was considered bizarre. Though it was a common practice to have something to eat with Whisky in European and Asian countries, it remained a little unconventional in the US until now.
However, thanks to the connoisseurs who are pairing foods that go extremely well with this divine amber colored liquid which comes in many forms- whisky, Bourbon, Scotch, or Rye, it is slowly gaining popularity in the US too. 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.
For example, Bourbon has a hint of vanilla and caramelized sweetness in it so it goes well with foods having this caramelized component. The general rule of thumb is, Light whiskies go well with seafood and spicy meals, Medium whiskys go well with high protein meals whereas full bodied whiskys go well with hearty dishes containing high-fat content.
Here are top 7 foods that go along well with different types of Whisky:
- Dark Chocolate: 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. 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. Whereas America’s favorite bourbon goes well with almost all kind of chocolates.
- Cheese: 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 Whisky. 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.
- Dried Fruits and nuts: 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 whiskys, 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.
- 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 bourbon 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 or rye whisky, goes well with rich, fatty dishes like meatloaf. Healthy meatloaf served with barbecue sauce goes well with strong whiskies.
- Smoked Salmon: Smoked Salmon marries well with whiskies with high rye content. The smokey flavor of the Salmon gives the bourbon 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. It can be served with American whiskys such as bourbon and whiskies having high rye content. The caramel flavors in the bourbon complement the apple pie exceptionally well.
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.