That’s right, wine-lovers: you don’t have a monopoly on pairing your favorite drink with cheese. Believe it or not, most whiskey flavors pair really nicely with certain cheeses. You can eat them plain, pair them with crackers, or even go the whole ten yards and make a grilled cheese. It doesn’t matter. Here are a few of our favorite whiskey and cheese pairings. Try them out at your next whiskey tasting party and let us know below or on Facebook what you think!
Smokey whiskeys are definitely an acquired taste, but for those that love them, there is no beating that powerful flavor. In this case, you don’t want to fight it– because you won’t win. Any smoked cheese (smoked gouda is always a favorite, of course) is bound to be a perfect fit here. The gouda gives a perfect kind of creaminess while still asserting that smokey flavor.
Rye whiskey is notorious for its spice and its dryness. With something so flavorful and strong, you will need a cheese that’s rich and creamy. A Camembert is usually our favorite here, but we’ve also partnered it with brie before and not been found wanting for that delicious creaminess. If you are opposed to the cream and would rather have something with some texture, try a parmigano. Not parmasan, mind you. Parmigano is that real Italian stuff, hard and crumbly in all the right places.
Bourbons have a sweeter taste that other whiskeys, often leaving notes of caramel or vanilla in your mouth. For this cheese, you don’t want to go TOO sweet, though. You want something savory that will compliment it. Instead, consider Comte, which has a nutty flavor. Beaufort or Gruyère may also satisfy that palette without being overwhelming. If you do want to get a little sweetness in there, pair an aged chedder with some dried fruit. Apricots and figs are always winners.
Lagavulin 16 and other peaty whiskeys have very complex flavors. But pair Scottish with Scottish. While they are definitely smokey, the full-bodied taste of Isle of Mull cheddar and its complex flavors will be a great companion. Many of those Scottish whiskeys also have the taste of the sea with them, as they are usually brewed near the ocean and take on its iodine taste. Because of this, you can pick a salty cheese for these pairings without any fear. Aged cheeses, especially gouda, have strong, salty flavors since their salt crystals come through better with age. And while it may seem like blasphemy to pair an Irish whiskey with a Scottish cheese, the same goes for barley-based Irish spirits as well.
At any whisky tasting, you’re going to do well if you have distinctive flavors to show off. The same goes for cheese. You don’t want everything to be exactly alike or your guests will get bored. And when in doubt? Go for the gouda. Everyone loves gouda.