Most whiskey pairings involve cheese and chocolates. But has it ever occurred to you that you can broaden the whiskey food-pairing repertoire? When you invite your besties over for a sumptuous weekend dinner, a gourmet expedition is not a bad idea. It will unfold experiences untold.
The Scots have been pairing whiskey with lamb since long. But this combination has not found way to dinner tables in several regions which includes South Africa. It is common to serve meals with beer and wine but whiskey still remains a digestif.
If you have a lovely piece of lamb waiting in your fridge, why not combine it with your guest’s favorite whiskey this time? Unless you are a whiskey enthusiast, pairing lamb and whiskey can be an interesting challenge.
As the flavors of whiskey can be complex, one should be careful with the spices used as ingredients for the lamb. For rich lamb dishes, a robust and spicy whiskey with long finish, such as Glenfiddich Red Oak would be the perfect complement. A lamb steak goes well with blackcurrant and plum flavors of whiskey. Single malt scotch is the perfect accompaniment to succulent lamb chops. Serve the single malt neat with a light splash of spring water. This allows the scotch’s aromatic complexities to unravel and meld gradually with the distinctive flavor of lamb.
A delicate balance needs to be achieved when pairing whiskey with lamb as the spirit’s robust and playful flavor profile may overpower the dish.
Lamb with dried fruits is a popular dish which you may have already experimented with. The ingredients include apricot, dates, plum, cinnamon, olive oil and black pepper. Among the gold-standard malts, Highland Park 12 would go well with this innovative lamb dish. As the succulent meat falls apart under the mild pressure of the fork and finds way to the taste buds, the whiskey’s flavors seamlessly mingle with the taste of the meat and spices. Sweet smoky finish and a sherry component of the liquor will stand out on the nose. You could also experiment with HP 18, which may turn out even better.
A dram of whiskey also makes a good match with barbecued spring lamb. One of the best ways to cook spring lamb is to keep it simple. Instead of garlic use fresh shallots which add a rich flavor to the slow-cooked gravy. Throw in few sprigs of rosemary in the barbeque embers which add the perfect flavor to the mild, silky spring lamb. A non-peated whiskey such as the Glen Fiddich 15-year old will clearly bring out the sweetness of this heavenly pairing. Do not miss out on this if you are hosting a summer outdoor cookout. The whiskey tastes even better after the outdoor grilling pleasure.
Doing a dish hearty and sophisticated is important if you want to earn the title of the “perfect host.” You may not want to match up to what is served in a Michelin three-star restaurant but a simple desire for the flavor of whiskey to come through can be easily realized. So pour yourself a dram, wear the apron and embark on a delightful culinary adventure.
Post-dinner indulgences can take several directions – you can traverse a more restrained route with a conventional, sugary dessert, or round off the hearty meal with a glass of whiskey.
Or, you can even intertwine the two for a rewarding – if unusual – nightcap.
Does a jaunt to the fair with your five-year-old assail you with visions from your own childhood? Does it revive memories of a jolly carousel spin, the breathtaking view from a Ferris wheel, and of course, the food stalls? Of course, sampling the ubiquitous fare of corn dogs, cotton candy and caramel apple may not impart the same joy you felt back then.
You’ve planned your menu with impeccable finesse. The freshly-caught sea bass is poaching in a pan, simmering in juices of its lime-ginger marinade. A medley of vegetables, handpicked carefully from your grocer this morning, nestles in the oven to roast. Bottles of the finest Scotch sit perched atop your bar counter, lined up invitingly. Each course mirrors a fine culinary sophistication.