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Pairing Food & Whiskey - Our Best Tips and Tricks

Prabhjot Singh

Pairings of food and alcohol is certainly not a new concept, and we have seen wine and certain foods, such as cheese for example paired together for centuries. However as more and more players enter the distilling game, pairing food and spirits, particularly whiskey, is a new phenomenon that is growing daily.

Whiskey, with its variations that see the spirit take on many flavours such as sweet, spicy, dry, soft, rich, and youthful, when paired with the right foods that bring out its diverse flavours, can be a culinary experience not to be missed.

But how do you selected the right whiskey pairing for your foods?

Not a simple question, but one that can certainly be answered by tasting, experimenting, and sticking to some tried and tested expert tips.

Here are our top 5 tips and tricks for pairing food with whiskey

Tip #1 Compliment or contrast

Enjoying both whiskey and food is the ultimate goal when pairing whiskey with food, and the best way to achieve this is to choose combinations that either compliment or contrast with each other in terms of flavour.

For example, pairing a smoked whiskey with a smokes salmon, may sound complimentary however the smokiness present in the whiskey will in fact completely overpower the smoky flavour of the salmon. As the consume the result will be that you don’t get the best of either product. A better choice in terms of food would be to pair the smoked whiskey with a seafood dish, a cheese, or a more subtle meat. If you are looking for a whiskey option to pair well with a smoked meat, consider a Rye Whiskey.

The key here is to compliment or contrast, think outside the box, and try not to match the obvious.

Tip #2 Choose your game

Game meats, such as venison, are amazing when paired with whiskey, however it is important that you select not only the right game meat to pair with your whiskey, but you also take into consideration how the meat is prepared before selecting the perfect pairing.

Cured game meats tend to have a strong and deep flavour, however these meats can also have a sweetness attached to them as well, In order to preserve the flavours of the meat, it is important to pair a whiskey that will bring out the best of the subtle sweetness. These include smoked whiskeys and bold single malts.  

Tip #3 Avoid Garlic

Any heavily flavoursome or aromatic spice found in foods should be avoided in terms of a whiskey food pairing. Garlic for example that many people cook with and at times do not use sparingly, will completely overpower the flavour of a whiskey. The result, being that the flavours in the whiskey are not enjoyed by the consumer.

Tip #4 Single Malts & Fish – Choose wisely

Fish and whiskey are a dream pairing. Bass and Salmon are the most common pairing and are perfectly matched to smoked and bended whiskeys that bring out the sweetness of the fish. However, the golden rule of pairing whiskey and fish is that uncooked fish, such as Sushi, doesn’t work well and is best avoided, with the powerful flavours associated with the rawness of the fish, again overpowering the flavours found in the whiskey.

Tip #5 Know your Dram – Taste! Taste! Taste!

A dram, being a defined pour of whiskey, is so important when pairing food and whiskey together. If you haven’t tasted the whiskey yourself, it is impossible to understand the flavour to then pair with a dish. Tasting and testing your whiskey and food combinations is the only way to find a perfect pairing. So, taste and taste some more!

Pairing whiskey with food is certainly not a simple process, and some even consider it to be much harder than pairing food and wine. Afterall there is not just a white verses red variant where whiskey is concerned, with whiskey not fitting neatly into two defined categories.

In order to get tasting and pairing, the best place to source the whiskey to fill your drams is to visit Pauls Liquor. Pauls Liquor is proud to stock a premium range of global brands. Our whiskey range includes Single Malts, Scotch, Bourbons, and many others, ensuring that our customers are bound to find a variety to suit your tastes and to pair perfectly with your next dish.

With online delivery available, meaning you can have your favourite product delivered to your door conveniently and easily, even without a bottle shop near you, in addition to having 20 years of industry experience behind us, make contact with us today and we can help you select the perfect whiskey!