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  • Lynn

Whiskey Business

Whiskey pairing guide for World Whiskey Day.

May moves us toward warmer days in small waves marked amidst the last coughs of departing Winter. May days are made for whiskey. A spirit for all seasons, ‘the water of life’ works on the rocks, neat, simple or stirred into cocktails both hot and cold, mild or bold.

Since its origins in Scotland circa 1494, whiskey continues to grow in size, scope, and popularity. It’s easy to understand the appeal perhaps most of all through a pairing primed to bring out the best in each style of the spirit. Follow this guide to get going and from there let your imagination run wild.

While most styles of whiskey contain characteristics across all four spectrums, use this guide to discover ideal pairings for any whisky organized by the foremost dominant



Pair whiskeys with a higher corn content, such as Bourbons, Tennessee or Irish whiskeys, with sweet accompaniments like aged gouda, chocolates, berries and cherries. Spirits made using higher amounts of corn are natural partners for foods with a sweeter side.


Kaaslands Kanaal, a sweet Proosdij cheese that I will have a review of next week, has a sweet nuttiness that pairs nicely with whiskys on the sweeter side, such as Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey.


Smoky whiskeys are available in a wide range from light and crisp to medicinal and heavy. Peated whiskeys like Single Malt Scotch or Irish whiskey made with peat can stand up to even the smokiest foods while creating a smooth, balanced bite.


Compass Box Whisky "The Peat Monster" has "smokiness of a driftwood fire with more medicinal peat notes. Orchard fruits and rich cask-derived creaminess balance the multi-layered smoke". This bold whisky calls for a unique, slightly smoky companion such as Brooklyn Cured's Smoky Beef Salami.


Cue the savory category for those extra earthy, rustic, and/or funky flavors. Most common are Japanese and Indian whiskeys. Don’t fight the funk but instead match it with washed rinds or salty, aged, natural rind cheeses to find unique, bold, harmonious combinations.


Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky has a multifaceted flavor profile including hints of barley, nuts, honey, apricot, rum and apples. Pair this complex whisky with mild Fromagerie Germain Langres AOP washed-rind cheese. Its firm paste has a complex taste that is not overwhelming with a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture.


When looking for spice try rye. Rye whiskies come from either Canada or the US and lend hotter, more savory notes. Match rye with spicy yet fatty, creamy accompaniments for a taste that packs a punch yet finishes with a mellow creaminess.


Bulleit Rye Whiskey is smooth, with hints of vanilla, honey, and spice. Enjoy this sweet and slightly-spicy whisky with hot, spicy and creamy Kindred Creamery Ghost Pepper Colby Jack for a contrasting yet complimentary pairing.

These are just suggestions to get you started--there's no right or wrong and everyone’s palate is unique. Experiment (responsibly!) to find your favorites.


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