The Macallan and Food Pairing – 4 Powerful Matches

Bottle of The Macallan 12 Double Cask near an old lantern

Ever wondered about what The Macallan and food pairing would work out best for a tasting? Here’s your answer!

The art of pairing food with its perfect drink is called such because of the necessary attention to detail and subtlety. The flavor profiles of different beverages bring out unique background flavors and details in different foods.

In this article, we will explore what goes well with Macallan whisky, specially the 12 year old Double Cask expression. There are sweet, savory, and salty options available for whatever you might be craving.


Table of Contents – Sip this article!

  1. The Macallan Background
    1. Flavour Profile
  2. The Macallan and Food Pairings
    1. The Macallan and Cheese
    2. The Macallan and Nuts, Olives and Dips
    3. The Macallan and Meats and Seafood
    4. The Macallan and Sweets
  3. Overview


The Macallan Background

For the purposes of food pairing, the focus on drinking will be the classic Macallan 12 years aged in a sherry oak cask, single malt scotch whisky. You will find other suggestions, but use this Macallan as your baseline for selecting food pairings.

This whisky comes from Scotland, and has been created in one of the first legally licensed distilleries in the country since 1824, and have been operating nearly consistently ever since. Macallan comes from the Highlands, which is a protected region of Scotland that contains 50 distilleries, and even boasts a tasting path called the “Malt Whisky Trail”.

Each variety of Macallan brings a slightly unique aroma and backdrop to the senses, but this bottle is revered for its consistent quality.

Macallan 12 is a “single malt scotch that has been aged for 12 years in oak” and absorbs its distinct flavor as a single malt because it is made at one single distillery with only melted barley, and very specific wood.

The Macallan invests a large amount of money into the wood they use to create the barrels for aging the whiskys.
While Macallan offers double, sherry, and triple oak varieties, we will focus on the classic: the sherry oak.

bottle of macallan 12 double oak on a tasting table
This article will be focused on The Macallan 12 years Double Cask, since it is aged in Sherry Casks and one of the brand’s classic expressions.


Flavor Profile

The flavors of whiskies and all the Macallan expression from the Highland region tend to have flavor profiles that are fruit forward, sweet, spicy, and with a hint of vanilla. Highland whiskys are products of their quality environment – there are secluded, pastoral ranges, clear rivers, and a warm climate that provide smooth whiskys with complex flavors.

These whiskys, particularly the Macallan, are usually lighter and sweeter than other comparable Scotch single malt alcohols. They are noted for their complex yet elegant flavors, with hints of smoke and ripe fruit. The Macallan 12 Double Cask is also more of a medium to deep amber color than other Scotch whiskys, and it has a smooth and creamy texture that makes it appropriate for sipping slowly.

The flavors emerge over time with the Macallan 12, and the nose changes quickly as it aerates and “serves to teach newcomers patience when forming opinions” on the whisky they like to drink, or how to make the best The Macallan and food pairing.

This whisky is complex in its aroma – there is a hint of spice (cinnamon or baked fruit), with a hint of dark sherry and fruit in the back.

The flavor tends to linger on the sweeter side, making food pairings an exciting and varied experience.

Bottle of The Macallan 12 Double Cask near an old lantern
The Macallan 12-Years Old Double Cask Whisky has a complex and elegant aroma and flavour profile that pairs great with other bold foods.


The Macallan and Food Pairing


When it comes to The Macallan and food pairing, there are fewer tried and true combinations than that of a smooth drink and the bite of a perfect cheese. The cheese selection you make will entirely depend upon whether you are looking for a savory contrast to your The Macallan, or a sweet compliment.

The Macallan 12 lends itself well to a pairing with aged gruyere. This cheese tends to be full of garlic and onion flavor (without being overpowering) and sweet nuttiness – these play off the smokey and fruity notes in the classic whisky.

The melty Alpine cheese raclette also balances these flavors well, as it brings a nutty, milky flavor profile to the table. For fans of bleu cheeses, the Macallan 12 years sherry oak has two strong contenders in its field: cambozola and the Bayley Hazen Blue. Both of these cheeses are creamy but with slightly sweet notes.

Other cheeses include challerhocker, and asiago, which are a bit sharper, nuttier, and creamier than others, and are sturdy and flavorful enough to be eaten on their own.
Cheese is a great option for The macallan and food pairing

Nuts, Olives, and Dips

Nuts, olives, and dips always make their way to a tapenade bar or charcuterie plate, and for good reason. These salty snacks not only whet our appetite for whisky but compliment the complexities of the flavor profiles.

For The Macallan and food pairing, the slighty sweeter nuts are the best option. The smooth and fatty Spanish Marcona almonds, the crunchy macadamia, and even dried coconut chips all play off the light smokiness and sweetness of The Macallan 12.

Olives come in many varieties and choosing the right one to pair with Macallan comes down to simplicity. Canned, jarred, black, green – any kind of olive can pair well, even if it is stuffed. The key is to choose one that will not overpower the drink but stand alone as a salty balance.

Surprisingly, a classic combination of chips and salsa, usually reserved for tequila and rum based beverages, works well with this expression of The Macallan. A salty, crunchy corn tortilla chip paired with a slightly sweet salsa (think pineapple, mango) will compliment the fruitiness of the whisky.


Meats and Seafood

Whether for a meal or a snack, pairing whisky with a protein is a classic way to enjoy the multitude of flavors.

When choosing a meat to pair with The Macallan, you want to be cognizant of its inherent sweetness. Pairing the whisky with an overly smokey or too salty dish will compromise the flavor quality.

Red meat pairings for The Macallan are best done with steak, particularly grilled. The heartiness of the meat pairs with the sweetness of this spirit, and you can choose from multiple cuts – New York strip, rib-eye, or anything with a high fat content.

Another The Macallan and food pairing you might want to try out is fish and sea food. But again, it is important to be aware of the salt levels in these dishes. Too much salt can detract from the whisky’s flavor.  Simple sushi and sashimi with scallops and crab pair well with The Macallan, as well as most river fish (trout, bass, perch, etc.). Avoid saltwater crustaceans and fish, again as their salty flavor can overpower the whisky.
Plate of meat with a glass of whisky near


As The Macallan has a fruity and spicy sweet nose to it, there are multiple dessert and sweets options that you can enjoy with your end of meal drink.

When it comes to The Macallan and food pairing, there’s one desert that work out wonders: it is the vanilla crème brulee. The smokiness of The Macallan is balanced with the caramelization of sugar on the crème brulee, and the hint of apricot and vanilla is enhanced. This also tempers the sweetness of the brulee by pairing it with a whisky.

Fruit tarts, especially those made with apples, pears, and cranberries, pair well with single malt whisky. It is best to avoid citrus fruits, as the sourness can be off-putting when paired with the subtle smokiness of this expression.


Overview of The Macallan and Food Pairing

In general, the flavors and dishes you in your The Macallan and food pairing will depend on your mood and what is available.

Remember to not overpower your beverage and stick with simple flavor pairings. Salty, sweet, fruity, and smokey are all wonderful balances for this drink. It is best to avoid overly smokey, pungent, or bitter pairings.

Allow the complexity and beauty of The Macallan to be the first thing you appreciate and follow your nose (and stomach!) to the perfect satisfying pairing for your taste buds.

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