A classic pairing for wine – certainly – but how well does cheese pair with whisky? With whisky and food pairing recently developing into something of an art, many whisky lovers are agreeing that whisky and cheese is definitely something worth a try! So if you enjoy a snack alongside your evening dram, then this guide is definitely one for you!
Like with pairing wine and cheese, and with pairing whisky and other foods or cigars, you typically want to unite or compliment the flavours present in each element. So a strong, full-bodied whisky will require a hard, smelly or blue cheese, whereas a smoother sip will work best with soft and creamy cheese. You should also consider the salt and fat content of each cheese, as this will impact the way the whisky balances out. Creamier cheeses are likely to have a higher fat content, so will need a whisky with more acidity to keep it balanced.
The smoky flavour of Scotch needs a cheesy partner of equal intensity. Stilton and Roquefort are good choices, as the bold flavours of the Scotch can match them, rather than overpower, as it may do with a subtler cheese. While you may think that a smoked cheese would work well with the smokiness of Scotch, think again! They can be a little too similar, rather than complementary, which can make the flavours clash.
Whiskeys produced in Ireland can be lighter, with citrus or vanilla notes, making them a diverse drink that can be paired with either richer or softer cheeses. This makes a rich, yet soft cheese, such as Brie, the ideal choice!
Bourbon tends to hold sweeter notes, with softer caramel and vanilla flavours present in each sip. Because of this, Bourbon tends to pair particularly well with nutty and sharp cheeses such as Manchego or Cheddar.
Rye whiskey is often full-bodied with hints of spice and earthiness, so it works well with both hard and rich cheeses. Harder cheeses, such as Parmesan, Gouda and Gruyere will work wonderfully with this bolder whiskey. On the other hand, the robust, spicy notes are an excellent match for richer cheeses, like Camembert.
As well as the whisky type, other factors will determine a whisky’s flavour. The type of barrel a whisky is matured in has a pretty big impact on some of the flavours that are found within it. For example, if it is aged in a Sherry cask, then it is likely to have some nice fruity flavours, which would pair really well with a goat cheese.
The best way to discover the perfect whisky and cheese pairing is, of course, to get tasting yourself! Your personal preferences will play a big part in what you consider to be the best pairing, so why not try some Scotch whisky – here at Havana House we have an extensive range to get your tasting journey started! What pairing do you think would work well together? Leave a comment below to let us know.