If you are mad about meat and like a dram for dinner, chances are you are a steak junkie. It’s no secret that whiskey goes well with a prime cut, done up crisp or left bloody. But, here’s the thing – it’s not just a shank or belly that couples just right with a glass of rich bourbon or scotch. Offal are just as worthy.
The Sicilians cook a mean stew with seasonal vegetables and veal tripe, slowly braised from the crack of dawn and sold as regular street fare. The little pepper, olive oil and lemon seasoning adds the adequate zing you need to pair it with a measure of Kilbeggan 8 Year Old. The young Irish single grain exudes creamy cereals and white chocolate, finishing short with some traces of toffee and butter. Although the pairing might seem counterintuitive, and unlike pairing wine which aims for familiarity, whiskey thrives on contrast which is exactly what this match offers up.
Pate is passé, but that shouldn’t be cause enough to ignore the humble liver. The only problem is, the organ leaves a very strong aftertaste which ends up subtracting from an otherwise pleasant experience. A grass-fed lamb’s liver or for that matter, chicken liver, pan fried with white onions, vinegar, tarragon, pepper makes a great prelude to a glass of Templeton Rye. Capone’s drink of choice – orange, allspice and butterscotch dominate the pallet. Even at 4 years of age, the wood is palpable in every sip and compliments the earthy creaminess of the liver.
The hardest-to-reach places hold the most coveted treasures and bone marrow is a fitting example in that regard. Try it as just an appetizer or as the main course, the buttery texture and the subtle umami is exceedingly more sublime than a cut of Kobe cooked to perfection. Diced marrow even makes an excellent ingredient in a salad or roast platter. The Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch makes for affable company. Combining single malts from Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie, the deeply oaky profile is intercut with strong notes of dried apricots and honey offer a sweet counterpoint for the marrow’s nuttiness.
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.
Typically, a whisky connoisseur is a man of habits. He sits with a glass of Jim Bean after a heartwarming dinner, sharing a weekend round with equally discerning peers – or relishing a solitary moment with his single-malt and bedroom slippers.
Fortunately, Eastern customs are turning this picture upside down.