Food and whisky, a match made in heaven! This article will feature recipes and whiskey and food pairing. It’s a concept that we believe in so much that we want to share it with the world along with the health benefits of whiskey.
We dedicated to finding the best food and snacks to pair with bourbon We are a collective of travelers and whisky enthusiasts who want to showcase and promote the fantastic food and drink we discover along our travels.
Food With Whisky
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.
Whiskey and Food Pairing
Trying to find the best food pairings with whiskey couldn’t be easier now thanks to our comprehensive guide. Whiskey doesn’t have to be consumed exclusively at the bar. Some of your whiskey’s best notes could be unlocked through a good food pairing. The 6 best food pairings with whiskey are:
- Smoked salmon
Steak is one of the best pairings with whiskey. With a long-established relationship, steak and whiskey get along very well.
Steak and whiskey are both very versatile in style and flavours. Different cuts are best paired with a variety of whiskies. A fattier ribeye steak can go well with a smoky Ardbeg Uigeadail, whereas a leaner steak cut is nicely paired with an American whiskey, like Bourbon or Tennessee style. Whiskies with a more balanced flavour are best to pair with leaner cuts.
However, if you’re looking for a whiskey that works with most cuts, then find yourself a smoky whiskey. Strong peaty whiskies from Scotland with earthy and smoky notes are a steak’s best friend. Medium-bodied rich whiskies are also a versatile choice when choosing your whiskey.
2. Smoked salmon
Unlike with steak, pairing a whiskey with smoked salmon is a delicate and precise task. The salmon has a delicate, smoky, creamy flavour. Pairing smoky, strong whiskies here would be a mistake. The strong flavours of the whisky would overwhelm the salmon, making for an unenjoyable and unappreciative experience.
A rye whiskey would be best to pair here. Rye whiskies are drier and more fiery than other whiskies. A single malt Scotch from Speyside would also be another good recommendation. A Scotch like this is delicate and creamy, just like the salmon, making for a perfect fit to balance flavours.
Cheese and whiskey are a perfect combination. What’s best about this pairing is the sheer variety of combinations you can make. We’ll make it easy for you here…
Soft cheeses like brie or goat’s cheese require a touch of sweetness. Imagine it’s like pairing the cheese with honey, it’s amazing. Sweet, malted barley Scotches like Glenmorangie are the best fit here.
Strong blue cheeses like Roquefort or stilton need a stronger note. Having a spicy noted whiskey would be best. The rich, peaty flavours of an Islay malt, such as Laphroaig, is a good choice. A Canadian rye whisky would also be just as good.
Soft, mild, creamy cheeses like burrata or mozzarella need whiskies with lighter notes and fragrance. The trick is to not overwhelm the cheese with the whiskey. An Irish whiskey like Green Spot is recommended for its light, crisp notes.
Cheddars can be split into two: mild and mature/vintage. Mild cheddars need a nicely balanced Bourbon. A vintage or mature cheddar requires something to challenge the strong flavours. A peat whisky from the Highlands would be our recommendation here.
Next cheese night, instead of bringing a bottle of wine, have your guests bring a different bottle of whiskey each. Pair them with the different cheeses for the ultimate tasting experience.
Maybe you’ve never thought of marrying these two elements together, but you should. The best chocolate to do this with is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate holds more intense notes to be extracted compared to milk or white chocolate, which is much sweeter.
Rich, spicy truffles pair well with a fruity GlenDronach. Whereas a dry, bitter dark chocolate is better with a peaty single malt from Islay. A chocolate containing spices like chili or ginger needs a fiery rye whisky as a pairing to fully enjoy its body of flavours.
Nuts also go well with whiskey. A Macallan whisky with sherry-like notes is perfect for an almond chocolate. A sweet, nutty hazelnut chocolate will be best paired with the nutty notes of Tullibardine single malt Scotch.
Of course, as is Scottish tradition, you can enjoy a whisky alongside a traditional haggis. Add a splash of water to reduce the intensity of the Scotch whisky and enjoy the flavours of both. The excellent combination of herbs and meat means a whisky can really refresh your palate during the meal.
Our guide of whisky expert tips to drinking whisky gives you all you need to know about haggis and whisky.
Sushi and whisky have become a new, exciting pairing in the world of whisky. The great rise of Japanese whisky in recent years has meant this combination has become a hit. Japanese whisky has been modelled on Scotch whisky in its production and grain mash.
Depending on the type of sushi being eaten, we offer these two whisky recommendations. For sushi with subtle ingredients, a Suntory Toki alongside it compliments it well with its light, refined flavours. For sushi with much stronger flavours, drinking a smooth, smoky Yoichi single malt will perfectly balance the flavours in your mouth.
Snacks to Pair with Bourbon
Whiskey may be considered the “water of life” but what is life without a little bit of good food to go along with it? Pairing snacks with whiskey may be a controversial move because whiskey does not go well with just anything. It’s important to be strategic in what you pair with it. For your next boys night in or house party, we’ll help you plan a menu that goes beyond just the drinks. Here are the best snacks to complement the tasty flavor of your whiskey drink or cocktail.
The reason cheese is a go-to snack to pair with whiskey is because they are both available in a variety of flavors and both are aged. Some cheeses are sharp, others are mild and a few are stinky. As such, not all cheeses pair well with every type of whiskey. If you’re drinking more of a smoky whiskey, pair it with a sharp, aged cheddar. Does your whiskey have a slight sweetness to it? Softer goat cheese or brie pair well with lighter, sweeter whiskey. You can add an apple or pear spread to serve along with the softer cheeses as fruity flavors are a nice complement to whiskey.
Nuts or snack mixes
Snack mixes that include pretzels, sesame sticks, rye chips and peanuts are a great option to munch on while enjoying whiskey. If you’re thinking of adding nuts, pay attention to the types of nuts as the ones you think might pair well with whiskey do not. As a general rule of thumb: heavily roasted nuts go well with smoky flavored whiskey. Sweet nuts like pecans, pistachios and Marcona almonds are a great complement to peaty, strong whiskey. And contrary to what you might think, a more bitter nut (say, Brazil nuts or walnuts) works best with a sweeter whiskey.
As with the other snacks, there’s a wide gamut of sweets to choose from when it comes to pairing with whiskey. A standard option that you can’t go wrong with is chocolate as it’s a perfect complement to whiskey. Overall, the best type of chocolate to experiment with is dark chocolate (the higher the quality, the better). If you’re tasting a strong whiskey, try plain dark chocolate. And milk chocolate (plain, or hint of chili or ginger) tastes great with rye whiskey. Have any salted hazelnut chocolates lying around? Pair them with a single malt whiskey.
Aside from chocolate, another dessert that brings out the best flavors in bourbon is either apple pie or apple crumb. Bourbon with a high rye content works well because of its natural caramel flavor.
Although meat isn’t a snack per se, it’s a great option to pair with whiskey if you’re looking for more of a meal to serve. If you’re serving whiskey with a high rye content, like bourbon, smoked salmon is a perfect choice. The smoked salmon gives your bourbon a fruity, spicy flavor.
Likewise, a juicy grilled steak is a fantastic option to pair with whiskey. As with the other options outlined here, try experimenting with different cuts of meat and seasoning. Medium bodied, smoky whiskey works well as the flavor complements the beef. On the other hand, a leaner steak can go really well with a bourbon. Experimentation is really the game when it comes to whiskey and the snacks you try pairing with it. Want an easy way to experiment with unique types of craft whiskey? Look no further than Rack House Whiskey Club. Rack House scours the U.S. looking for the best distilleries with the most interesting stories to curate a unique subscription box filled with full-sized bottles of hard-to-find small batch whiskey. We’re building a community of premium craft whiskey drinkers, and you’re invited. Join us!
Health Benefits of Whiskey
1. Cancer prevention
Have you ever thought, “at least it has antioxidants” as you down a glass (or three) of red wine? Good news: Whiskey has antioxidants, too! Whiskey (especially single-malt) is high in ellagic acid, an amazing antioxidant that can stave off cancer-causing free radicals.
But this is all theoretical science. Whiskey isn’t a fail-safe way to prevent cancer, but its antioxidant benefits just might help you out.
2. Heart health
Booze can thin your blood. That means a daily shot of the good stuff might lower your risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks. Plus, small amounts of whiskey can raise HDL levels in your bloodstream which may help prevent heart disease.
Reminder: Alcohol cannot replace actual medical care to prevent or treat heart issues. Self-medicating with any alcohol is a big no-no.
3. Lower risk of dementia
If you can’t remember how you got home from the bar last night, you can blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol. Booze def isn’t good for your short-term memory, but it might help you in the long run.
A 2003 study from the National Institute of Health (NIH) showed drinking one to six standard drinks a week can lower your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But even 2020 research shows we need more studies to prove this.
The calming effect from the alcohol in whiskey may help curb your stress and help you relax. The increased circulation may also help oxygenate the blood which can add to the chill vibes. While Jack Daniels might take the edge off, it’s not a cure-all for stress.
But please note: Whiskey isn’t the answer to reduce stress or anxiety, especially if it becomes a habit. It’s never safe to use alcohol as a way to cope with stress.
Having anxiety also makes you more susceptible to an alcohol use disorder, so moderation is super important. Plain and simple: alcohol shouldn’t be used as a coping mechanism.
Whiskey might be better booze for folks with diabetes. It’s gluten-free and has very little sugar due to the distillation process. Just be sure to buy a brand that doesn’t add any sweet stuff to the batch.
Whiskey might also help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but no research is conclusive and it’s a little mixed.
A 2010 study suggests long-term moderate alcohol intake can stabilize your body’s insulin. However, a newer 2015 meta-analysis showed this reduction in risk only applied to women and Non Asian populations.
Another 2017 review found that light-to-moderate alcohol intake didn’t stabilize blood sugar, but it also didn’t increase it in people with diabetes.
Take note: Heavy drinking isn’t healthy anyway, but it can also increase your risk of diabetes. So, it’s all about moderation, folks.
6. Skin health
Like most alcohols, whiskey has killer antiseptic properties when used topically. This helps control excess oils and can dissolve dirt and bacteria off your skin.
That means whiskey might just benefit your skin if used as a toner to tame pimples and blackheads. But alcohol can also be super drying and irritating to the skin.
7. Help you sleep
Fancy a night cap? Drinking whiskey before bed might help you relax and get some Zzz’s. Just be sure to keep it light and don’t rely on it as a sleep aid. Too much whiskey can have the opposite effect and can disrupt your sleep.
And even though research shows alcohol might help you fall asleep faster; it also shows even small amounts can disrupt your sleep during the night.