pairing food with whisky

Pairing Food with Whisky: 5 ways to pair your food with whisky

We show you 5 proper ways to pairing food with whisky, a powerful and delicious spirit that deserves a good dish.

Photo by Pinaak Kumar on Unsplash

Other spirits such as fine whisky find their place at the table, whether with light or heavy dishes, cheese, deli or desserts. In fact, wine is not the only one to be paired with…

When pairing food with whisky you should generally focus on the power of your spirit.

  • Lighter whiskies pair better with smoked salmon and sushi.
  • Medium-bodied ones work better with smoked fish such as mackerel or sardines.
  • However, full-bodied whiskies aged in cask, strong, smoked and peaty work very well with chocolate.

Bartender Shawn Chen of RedFarm bar in New York City, says about pairing food with whisky, that he tends “to focus on the overall flavor profile of the particular whiskey and complement it with dishes that accentuate similar flavor profiles“.


Pairing food with whisky: 5 ways

1. Salads

Yes, whisky can go very well with a salad. For example, lamb’s lettuce and rocket with its strong flavor go very well with smoked sardines, walnuts and mustard vinaigrette. An ideal whisky to pair with would be a young blended that we can cut with a little sparkling water without salt, in a cold glass without ice.


2. Fish

Fish like sea bass go very well with smoked and blended Islay whisky. A perfect whisky for sipping -for drinking in small sips. Other fishes are of course, salmon – preferably Scottish! You can cure your salmon with the same whisky that will pair with your dish.

A wild Scottish salmon will bring out the flavors of a whisky like a Talisker: spicy, peppery and smoky aromas. Or for a smoked salmon, a Balvenie 17 year old Doublewood. Prawns also make for a great food pairing with whisky.


3. Meats

To taste the whisky with meat, you can go for a powerful meat like the Scottish black angus, rather grilled. You can taste it with barbecue sauce, and the whisky should preferably be a pure malt cask strength that can be reduced with water. This will allow you to release nuances of the drink.

You can also taste a beef rib steak with chips with a Redbreast Lustau, an Irish whiskey matured in sherry and bourbon barrels. Rich, creamy and spicy.

Pork is also an option for tasting American whiskey, and one example is to pair Stagg Jr Bourbon with pulled pork.

But for a 100% Scottish touch, there is the 2009 Octomore 6.3 Islay Barley whisky. It will go perfectly with the Scottish specialty: Haggis.


4. Cheese

For cheeses with a strong smell, such as blue cheese, we prefer a full-bodied malt whisky. Softer, creamier cheeses work better with a light, soft scotch to taste. For example, goat’s cheese goes well with a fruity Speyside malt whisky such as Aberlour 12 Year Old. Peated whiskies are not recommended as they tend to overpower many flavors.

Whiskeys such as The Macallan have created guides like the MAC & CHEESE, The Definitive Guide to Pairing The Macallan and Fine Cheese, where we learn about the basics of whisky and how to pair this wonderful spirit with cheese.

Both whisky and cheese making are sophisticated arts defined by traditions and time-honored processes. Complex to master, but easy to enjoy – especially together – The Macallan’s range of flavor notes are the perfect complement to the rich creaminess of artisan cheeses,” says the guide.

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5. Desserts

Let’s not only talk about whisky, bourbon also plays an interesting role in food, and with desserts you can mix one made with corn. It will add a sweet touch with a chocolate fondant and vanilla ice cream. Or, you can try a toffee pudding that will go great with Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Rum Cask Finish Reserve.


Now that you will be pairing food with whisky, what’s your favorite dish to taste whisky to? Discover more recipes.


Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.


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