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Astonishing the Palate: When Whiskey Meets Cheese

“What butter and whiskey cannot cure, there is no cure for!”

This Irish proverb rings true for all happy tipplers. The quest to find the perfect bite to complement a particular dram has been the age-old pursuit of whiskey connoisseurs. While wine and cheese are a match made in heaven, aficionados and intrepid drinkers are increasingly trying out unique pairings— the unconventional, if not daunting pairing of whiskey and cheese demonstrates a fine culinary sophistication that the epicurean in you can’t resist to pursue.

So, for your next evening soirée, we suggest focusing on three flavor profiles— sweet, smoky and spicy. Hard, sharp cheddars are better matched with a dram of fruity whiskey, while blue cheeses, like Roquefort or gorgonzola, are best served with a peaty single malt.

The velvety richness of a good, ripe brie or saltier, aged cheddar balances elegantly with the lingering citrus and oak notes of an aged Glenlivet. Sweeter scotches like the Glenmorangie or lighter whiskeys with accents of passion fruit, orange and vanilla also complement the saltiness and creaminess of brie.

The intense savoriness of light bodied cheese goes hand-in-hand with the smoky and rich flavor notes of a classic bourbon like the Elijah Craig. To experience boldness, try the Nord Hollander— a sweet and savory cheese with layered complexities of caramel and sea salt.

A dram of the Glenfiddich 15-Year-Old Speyside paired with the intense Blue Paradise can also make you indulge in one of those “knock your head back” culinary thrills. The honey notes from the scotch mingle with the savory flavors of the blue cheese to tantalize your taste buds.  There’s a layered heat from the whisky that works beautifully with this double-cream blue-veined cheese.

After you’ve enjoyed sipping your dram of Scotch, bloom it. Add about 9 drops of room temperature unchlorinated spring water to your dram. Nose it. More flavors should open up. Now sip it with a bite of the cheese for a heady dose of complexity.

Serve your pour with limited accessories—some unsalted nuts, a slice of French baguette and a dried fig or two on each plate. Do not overcrowd the plate.

Go ahead and try out these interesting pairings that create extraordinary flavor blends—bringing out the best in both. With harmonious pairings like these, you will surely make your next party an affair to remember.