Are you a food lover? How much attention do you pay to what you drink with it?
Pairing food with a drink is nothing new. Wine and food have always gone together with the basic guidelines being red wine with red meat, white wine with seafood and champagne with oysters. In fact, there are probably a lot of choices that you make about which drink to have with a particular dish without even realising it.
If, however, you are not consciously making a decision as to which beverage to have with food, you really are missing a trick. The right drink can enhance the taste experience and the wrong drink can ruin a perfectly good meal. Pairing suggestions now extend to all types of alcohol from wine and beer to spirits and cocktails.
As a general rule, the main qualities of an alcoholic drink that affect its interaction with food are the body and the alcohol content. The body of the beverage, especially in the case of wine, can be described as either light-, medium- or full-bodied. Each one will not only feel different on your tongue but will also affect the enjoyment of the meal in different ways. A lighter wine or beer would complement perfectly a light or delicately flavoured dish and yet be somewhat lost against a rich or spicy plate of food.
Similarly, the level of alcohol in a drink can affect how it interacts with food. Lower-alcohol beverages are better suited to pairings with more subtle food flavours whilst those drinks containing more alcohol can begin to feel a little ‘hot’ in the mouth, and this can be exacerbated by hot and spicy food.
But what about whisky? With its higher alcohol content and its robust taste, surely it would obliterate the taste of any food that you ate with it…..
You’ll be pleased to hear, however, that this is not the case. So let’s look at Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskies and some examples of tasty food pairings.
Briny oysters will sing on the palette when combined with a shallot dressing. To complement this, the whisky would have to have a similar freshness. Thus the 10-Year-Old Malt with its clean apple notes is ideal. This would also complement, for example, roasted langoustines and an apple and fennel salad. The crisp, palate-refreshing flavours are a marriage made in heaven.
But what about scallops? The clean sweetness of seared scallops complements the 12-Year-Old Malt whisky’s soft oak finish and a ginger and chilli dressing helps to bring out the dram’s tropical notes. Similarly, the lemon tartness and spice of gravadlax brings out the citrus notes of the whisky, which in turn balances the richness of the fish.
Rich and Meaty
Hearty, traditional and distinctive in flavour, black pudding gives a slightly salty kick to any dish. Thus to try and pair this with a whisky, you’re looking for something with a complementary sweet citrus taste. The 15-Year-Old Malt is perfect for this. Because of the slight oaky finish of this whisky, it is also ideal for dishes such as guinea fowl, which although slightly gamey, is much more subtle than pheasant or grouse.
As far as roasted meats and the rich, earthy flavours of mushrooms go, we would recommend looking for a whisky with a rounded fruity taste. Glengoyne’s 18-Year-Old Malt has a wonderful taste of red apples and orange marmalade. Together, they’re pure luxury.
Salty and Spicy
Now let’s consider salty or spicy food. Obviously, the food itself will have a robust flavour so you’re looking for a whisky that can hold it’s own but can balance the savoury with sweetness. The intense cinnamon nip and honeyed raisin taste of the 21-Year-Old Malt is a perfect choice. A perfect balance of sweet and sour. This whisky would also complement the creaminess of goats’ cheese.
On the other hand, the roasted honey sweetness of a glazed ham or bacon looks for a whisky to provide balance – the 25-Year-Old Malt with its spicy liquorice finish is the perfect match. A simple but rewarding pairing.
Haggis is Scotland’s national dish. Meaty, oaty, fiery and moist with a distinctive earthy flavour, haggis needs a bold partner. The Glengoyne Cask Strength Malt with its fruity, peppery notes is perfect with this classic Scottish dish.
Similarly, if you fancy a curry, try the Cask strength. The perfect balance it is an excellent match for a spicy, peppery, or sweet curry.
So as you can see, if you think about the types of foods that complement each other and then choose a whisky with similar qualities you can’t go far wrong. Good luck experimenting with your own combinations – Sláinte mhath!