Pairing Whiskey with Cheese
Move over wine, cheese has a new best friend. Unheard of in decades past, pairing whiskey with food has become a tasting phenomenon. Complementing the bold expressions of whiskey with the creamy mouth-feel of farmhouse cheese can reveal new characteristics to both your cheese and whiskey. We’re going to look at what you need to know when it comes to selecting the right cheese to partner your dram.
There are added benefits to enjoying cheese alongside a whiskey; the high fat content in cheese actually slows down the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream. I know what you’re probably thinking and yes, that does mean you can drink a little bit more whiskey than usual. But don’t overdo it – remember we’re here to discover new flavour profiles, not to get locked!
Tricks of the Trade
The best way to pair whiskey with cheese is to simply experiment. Select a whiskey, have several cheeses at hand and see which one works best. Of course there are several ways to ensure the best results. Firstly, know your whiskey. Is the whiskey sweet, spicy, fruity, smoky? Don’t feel confident enough to distinguish between the varying styles of whiskey? Never fear, typically your whiskey will come with simple tasting notes inscribed on the label. You can of course do a little research online, or pop in to your local whiskey specialist and tell them what you’re looking for.
Remember that your sense of taste and smell are closely associated with the part of the brain that evokes memory. This in part means that the whiskey may elicit varying tastes unique to each person in your party. Take note of all these tastes and carry them forward into selecting the right cheese bearing in mind some people will enjoy different pairings more than others.
Contrast & Complement
The key words to remember when pairing whiskey with cheese is contrast and complement. For example, a lot of Irish whiskies can be described as sweet. With regards to contrast, what kind of cheese would pair well with a sweet whiskey? You guessed it, a salty one. An example of such a pairing that’s commonly featured on our Deluxe Whiskey Trail of Dublin – Durrus Cow’s Milk Farmhouse Cheese & Tullamore DEW 14y/o Single Malt. Durrus Cheese is made in West Co. Cork and has been bathed in a brine to absorb salt prior to sale. This leaves the cheese with a creamy yet slightly salty flavour which perfectly complements the sweet and complex Tullamore DEW.
When complementing a whiskey with cheese or vice versa, we can look at other traditional cheese pairings and draw inspiration from that. For example, blue cheese is often paired with Port. It just so happens that there is a multitude of whiskey that exists that has been aged in Port casks. A great Irish example of this is The Tyrconnell Port Finish Single Malt. A highly regarded Irish Single Malt whiskey that pairs exceptionally well with Cashel Blue Cheese from Cashel Farmhouse Cheeses based in Co. Tipperary!
Of course after everything’s been said, it’s entirely up to you what pairings work and which ones don’t. Taste is entirely subjective so we encourage you to experiment yourself one of these cold evenings. Drop into one of the many Sheridan’s Cheesemongers and your nearest whiskey specialist and let your imagination run wild. Or if you’re feeling up to it, join us on a Deluxe Whiskey Trail in Galway or Dublin where we pair whiskey with cheese, seafood, and chocolate!