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.
Desserts and whiskies have always made a harmonious marriage. From pies and cupcakes, to entire books written on the perfect whiskey-caramel sauce – a dash of liquor adds a layer of complexity to the richness of dark chocolate and the nostalgia of sliced apples – bringing out the best of both worlds: the highlight of age coupled with the joys of childhood.
That’s precisely the charm of a dessert-whiskey pairing.
The bold silhouette of each complementing the other in perfect concord, the bittersweet alcohol is an ideal companion to traditional sweets – like the crème brûlée. A crème brûlée comes with a volley of daunting associations – notoriously difficult to make, the thickness of its sugary crust and a barely-set texture instills fear in the hearts of many master home-cooks.
So, should you push the boundaries with a rebellious helping of alcohol on the side?
The crème brûlée is known for its nuanced flavor profile, with a sharp, sugary sprig emerging from its caramel envelope. Hence, pairing it with medium-to-light whiskies proves particularly effective. Lighter blends like the Chivas Regal 12 Year Old can be overwhelmed and pushed aside on the palate. On the other hand, the peaty oiliness of Johnnie Walker Double Black is too contentious for a light, creamy combination.
Experts, connoisseurs, and discerning amateurs alike seem to prefer a floral concoction.
Tyrconnell 10-Year-Old Single Malt Madeira is a mellow Irish whiskey with 46% ABV and a pronounced floral note – evoking an almost wine-like presence (it’s flair for food-pairings is no surprise). With a clear yet bold aroma, Tyrconnell begins with a refined balance – letting the freshly-burnt warmth of caramel wafts through. On the palate, the Single Malt hits all the right notes.
A highland touch, akin to chocolate-roasted almonds, plays with the slight bitterness in the toasted sugar. A creamy suggestion of honey reflects the dessert’s delicately firm body, and a hint almost-stark sweetness (like ribbon-candy) carries the subtlety of the brûlée one step further. With a finish that’s ‘soft and sweet’ this whiskey aged in Madeira wine casks evokes a sense of sophistication – reminiscent of the archetypal crème brûlée.
Good things, they say, often come in small packages. At your next dinner party, then, why not shelve the familiar long-neck, and bring out its more petite cousin instead?
To live a life full of adventure, one has to escape the ordinary. If you are up for this quest and willing to go beyond the cliché, food and whiskey pairing is the emerging culinary art. Whiskey and food matching may seem daunting because of the former’s complex character, but once you delve deep into the process, there are some ridiculously delicious flavors waiting to explode in your mouth.
Venerated as a patrician tipple from the West, Whiskey had long shared a quintessential bond with the Maharajas and societal elites of the Indian sub-continent. Today, it survives as a motif of bygone aristocracy for the rich, as a good old friend for the middle class, and lastly, as an uncharted ambition for the poor.