Pairing food with wine or beer is a well-known thing. But what about pairing food with whisky? Here are 5 dishes that go perfectly with a good dram.
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Whenever the topic comes up of which food goes best with a wine, beer or whisky—often at the cellar door, brewery or distillery it’s from—I always feel a bit guilty.
The truth is, I often just enjoy drinking what’s in my glass and not waiting until the perfect meal is on hand to match it with. And I think that’s ok.
But when you get the pairing right, it can bring a whole different set of flavours to your meal that otherwise you would have missed out on.
5 fantastic food pairings for the whisky drinker
Of course, it helps if you already enjoy drinking whisky—though there are lots of tips out there on getting into this excellent spirit.
These 5 easy steps show you the best way to approach whisky and if you’re not sure which whisky you might like, we’ve got a beginner’s guide to the good stuff here.
But if you’re already over that first hurdle, let’s look at what food goes well with whisky.
1. Sweet (but not too sweet)
It might surprise you, but one of the best food and whisky pairings is with dark chocolate.
Choosing a whisky that already has a little sweetness in it will really develop the flavour of the chocolate, and the bitterness and depth in the chocolate will work well with the grain in the whisky.
You might also find that ice cream—especially richer ice cream with plenty of flavour or fruity ice cream—goes nicely with the same whisky.
2. Smoke and char
Another popular match with whisky is smoked or chargrilled meat. A smoked brisket, charcoal barbecue ribs—even hot smoked salmon or smoked chicken—will have enough weight behind them to deal with some of the peatiest whiskies.
Having said that, if you’re not sure of the match, test it out first as some peated whisky can have a strong iodine note that might mess with the flavour of the food. And adding a drop of water to your whisky will help even out tannins of the whisky too.
Choose a light, bright whisky with no peat to go with anything from sushi to fish and chips. The acidity of a lighter whisky will cut through the oil and richness of the food without imposing itself too much on the dish. In the meantime, the seafood and fattiness will give the whisky more body.
Many people think of Champagne when looking for a drink to go with seafood. But whisky can bring flavours to the table that sparkling wine can’t.
What’s more, there are lots of other things that Champagne goes amazingly well with. Here’s our story of grub and bubbles!
4. Rich platters
Most people think of red wine or fortifieds when it comes to pairing drinks with cheese and cured meat, but the opulence and strength of flavour of whisky means the two can keep pace without one overriding the other.
It’s also worth trying different tipples with different cheeses. A peated scotch, a sweeter whisky like bourbon or a spicy rye all lend different influences to a platter.
5. Fruity and nutty
Almost all whisky has some fruit influence in its flavour profile, whether it’s winter fruit, dried apricots, red berries or plums. This lends many whiskies to being great accompaniments to things like Christmas cake, apple crumble or an after-dinner snack of dried fruit and nuts.
Have fun with your whisky and food pairing
These were just a few ideas of what goes well together. And all before we’ve even had a chance to look at whisky cocktails, which—depending on what else is in the drink—have almost endless food-matching possibilities.
But at the heart of this whole exercise, food and whisky—and in fact all food and drink pairings—is supposed to be fun. So experiment, see what happens and enjoy the experience.
You never know, you might discover a new match you never thought would work.