A beautiful peaty dram can often be enhanced by having a little snack to complement it. In this article we’ll explain everything about snacks to serve with whisky.
Whisky is an incredibly luxurious, sumptuous drink and sometimes it needs a little something else to break up the rich intensity.
Sometimes you might be hosting a tasting party, maybe you are just having some high-class casual drinks with friends. Whatever the case may be – an evening of drinking whisky can be long and arduous without the proper snacks to accompany it.
The general rules for whisky snacks and food are the ones that follows:
Snacks to serve with whisky
1. Plainer snacks to serve with whisky, if whisky is the star
High quality whiskies are incredibly nuanced, gorgeous pieces of craftmanship that can take decades, sometimes centuries to develop. You can even use those incredible flavor profiles develop your palate if you curate the right variety using a whisky subscription box.
As such, if you are hosting an event or enjoying an evening on your own that really emphasizes the distinct tasting notes of the spirit of choice: ease off the strong foods.
There are some great snacks to serve with whisky in order to create unique, powerful flavour combinations that are otherwise impossible to replicate. However, if the whisky and its tasting notes are what you are interested in, then steer clear of the Gorgonzolas, oysters, and rich and creamy sauces.
When these combinations are formed, the base notes of the whisky get melded and transformed, removing some of the magic of the original dram. In this case, we would recommend the use of plain, maybe slightly salted crackers, maybe coupled with some dark chocolate or mild cheese.
The light dairy and salty crackers make an effective textural juxtaposition to the whisky’s smooth mouthfeel. This allows you to refresh your palate slightly, breaking up flavor notes and rounding off different taste experiences between trying out different drams!
Some specific whiskies, such as scotch might be complemented better with specific appetizers. Check out a list of the best appetizers to taste scotch.
2. If you are trying to match whisky and foods, match associated flavors, not direct flavor profiles.
This one goes against what seems to be common sense, surprisingly. One might think that smoked cheese, or smoked Loch Loman salmon might pair beautifully with a lovely deep, peaty, smoky whisky. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Whisky, an alcohol with literal decades behind its creation, is nothing if not bold. The smoky flavors that roll around the tasting notes of a good, aged malt or grain whisky are ones that present themselves confidently on your palate.
As such, when you try to directly match flavor profiles across whiskies and foods that share some tastes, the flavor of the food is at danger of being annihilated. Smoked salmon has some beautifully rounded and deep flavors that can be entirely washed away by the strength of a more powerful peaty whisky.
A good example of how to choose snacks to serve with whisky is to check how the associated flavors might match. Look on your bottle of whisky – most distilleries will include some tasting notes that will guide you through the whisky’s flavor notes.
Some whiskies might say something like “notes of apple”. If that is the case, think about food that pairs well with apple – hard cheese, cinnamon, pork. So, a whisky like that might go perfectly with a nice pork pie or artisanal sausage roll.
How should you serve snacks with whisky?
This depends on exactly what your function is, and how the food is going with your whisky.
In general, we would advise that for tasting evenings, or any other kind of function focusing on the whisky’s taste, only very plain snacks like water biscuit crackers should be served. This will help break up the intense flavors and smooth, silky mouthfeel of the liquor, while not interfering at all with the strong-tasting notes at play in the beautiful spirit.
If you are setting up a tasting evening, maybe set up rounds of tasting interspersed with rounds of snacks that can break up the different whisky tastings. This will help clear the palates of the people there and provided some much needed ballast to contend with the high alcohol percentages in some whiskies. Some whiskies like the Strathclyde have up to 60% ABV, so some carbohydrates would be much needed.
What are the best snacks to serve with whisky?
Here are some of the best snacks to go with whisky:
- Strong, funky cheeses like gorgonzola with strong, smoky whiskies;
- Salmon and other fish with lighter, bourbon cask-aged whiskies;
- Meats with sherry aged whiskies with higher tannic content;
- Crackers or salty chips;
- Dark chocolates (maybe some salted caramel or chili chocolate).