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A Foolproof Guide to Pairing Whiskey With Food

Meet Lux Row Distillers Team Member Kelsey Lyon
September 21, 2018
8 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Bourbon
October 15, 2018

A Foolproof Guide to Pairing Whiskey With Food

Whiskey on its own is perfection. But it doesn’t have to be a loner. It cozies up to food in a surprisingly compatible manner.

Fine whiskey, including bourbon — served straight, on ice, or in a stimulating cocktail — combined with the right food can be a match made in heaven. You just need to observe a few basic rules.

Think Like a Wine Enthusiast
When you’re deciding what to pair and how, follow the lead set by wine.

For lean and delicate items such as chicken and seafood, a sommelier would recommend a light white wine. The whiskey equivalent would be a light, lower-proof that doesn’t overpower the food.

For big, bold dishes such as steak that traditionally call for red wine, choose a whiskey that’s full-bodied and higher-proof.

Consider the Proof
Higher-proof whiskeys have a bigger presence and more dominant flavor.

A 100-proof bourbon such as David Nicholson Reserve calls for an in-your-face entrée with an assertive presence; something like blackened rib-eye with chimichurri, the vivid-green, brightly flavored sauce with parsley, garlic, and oregano.

On the lower-proof side, an 80-proof whiskey such as Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon has a smooth personality that’s tailor-made for a mellower dish like pasta with mushroom cream sauce.

Then Consider the Flavors
The best whiskey-and-food moments happen when you matchmake similar flavors. Whiskey has many notes, from smoke to caramel to honey to vanilla. A smart pairing can draw those flavors out.

For a dish like barbecue pork, boasting lots of caramelized flavors, choose a bourbon with a strong caramel presence on the palate, such as David Nicholson 1843.

Zesty fare such as a charcuterie plate with cheeses and spicy salami pairs smashingly with a ryed bourbon high on spice such as Old Ezra.

Don’t Skip Dessert
With its many layers of honey, caramel, vanilla, raisins, and stone fruit, whiskey represents the perfect mate for your sweet ending. Be it cheesecake, devil’s food cake, or a cinnamon-scented apple crisp, there’s a whiskey that fits.

For fruit desserts like apple crisp, nothing feels more right than the harmonious autumn-spice flavors of Rebel Yell Ginger Whiskey. Pair rich, creamy desserts such as cheesecake with Rebel Yell Root Beer Whiskey to evoke the pleasures of a root beer float.

Chocolate and bourbon were destined to be together. Which is more complex: a bite of deep, dark chocolate cake, or a taste of Blood Oath Pact No. 4, itself redolent of caramel, vanilla, and chocolate?

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