April 07, 2020 3 min read

Some people prefer wine and build huge collections of vintage bottles. Still others are always on the lookout for a new craft beer or microbrew to try. In either case, entertaining involves carefully-selected foods to help bring out the flavors of the beverage. If you’re a fan of scotch or whiskey, you may think it’s difficult to find good pairings, but the five below are sure to please.

#1 – Strawberries

Of all the various things you can pair with whiskey or scotch, fruit can be a win – but only when it’s fresh. You should avoid citrus fruits as these can mask the flavor of your beverage or perhaps even make it taste a little astringent, but tarter fruits are a great alternative. Of all the various fruits that pair well with scotch, strawberries are one of the best. Try coring a strawberry, slicing it in half, and giving it a generous shake of black pepper. Add a couple of fingers of scotch to your favorite rocks glass, and after sipping it, take a bite of the pepper-covered berry. It brings out flavors you may not have otherwise noticed.

#2 – Cheese

Though wine and cheese are a classic that is difficult to top, there are several cheeses that pair very well with scotch and whiskey. If you have a spicy scotch, go with a strong, full-bodied cheese to help bring out the flavor. If your scotch is a bit sweeter, go with a softer, milder cheese. To cover all your bases, try serving a variety of three scotches and whiskeys along with three cheeses – sharp cheddar, brie, and gouda are great choices. Don’t forget that we also eat with our eyes, so be sure to serve the cheese on a gorgeous slate server so the colors really pop.

#3 – Chocolate

If you’ve never tried chocolate and whiskey, you’re really missing out. Bittersweet chocolates like Hershey’s Special Dark pair especially well with bourbons as the bitterness in the chocolate brings out the sweet oaky flavor in the bourbon. If you prefer a different brand, try to find one with a high amount of cacao. You’ll want at least 70%, but 80% or greater is even better.  

#4 – Salmon

Smoked salmon, also known as “lox” in some places, is another great food to pair with a scotch or whiskey. When salmon is smoked, it takes in that fiery flavor and can be quite strong. You can serve it with cream cheese on a bagel, then pair it with a high-rye whiskey. The intense smoky flavor will make the whiskey taste almost fruity, which in turn cuts the fattiness in the salmon – almost like lemon would. You can also serve smoked salmon directly from a beautiful bar tray with crackers and cream cheese.

#5 – Protein

The other food pairings on this list are more like appetizers or snacks, so if you want to serve a full meal that pairs exceptionally well with your favorite whiskey or scotch, steak is the best bet. If you’re planning to serve something exceptionally lean, such as a filet mignon, a classic Kentucky bourbon is ideal. On the other hand, if you plan to grill a fatty, rich steak, go with a smokey or spicy whiskey that’s bold enough to match.

Fans of whiskey and scotch have numerous options when it comes to pairing their favorite brands and with foods. The goal is to find a food that brings out the “hidden” flavors in the beverage for a palate-pleasing experience you’ll look forward to recreating time and again.