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Issue 128 - Simple Food Pairings

Whisky Magazine Issue 128
June 2015


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Simple Food Pairings

Whiskies with cheese, seafood and chocolate

The black sea salt with volcanic ash plays off the smoke in the whisky,” a voice calls from outside the walk-in fridge. “But does it cause the fattiness of the pork to become unctuous?” I query. “Potatoes just won't work, let's look at braising barley with some Lapsang Souchong tea in the bouquet garni,” was the reply, “we could play up the sherry character with some soaked figs!”

Pairing whisky with a main course is a balancing act; working to show off the best in each element of food and the whisky. It is easy for one to overwhelm the other. Enjoying food alongside whisky can cause each to change, the dominant flavours muting or amplifying in concert with the accompaniment. Where there are a lot of elements on a plate, it can become unwieldy and fall flat. One wrong step, one poorly chosen garnish or sauce, and the pairing is ruined.

While some of my favourite whisky pairings are multilayered and complex, requiring hours of trial and error (and a dismayed kitchen porter left with the washing up) I also love the quiet simplicity of pairing a single element with a complex whisky. Some of the most effective pairings I have experienced have been of this stable: simple and uncomplicated. In its natural state, food has such breadth of flavour and the mantra of what ‘grows together goes together' can lead to some stunning yet simple food pairings.


One of my favourite ways to enjoy whisky alongside food is pairing whisky and sushi, especially when the...

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