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Issue 28 - Southern inspirations: cooking with bourbon

Whisky Magazine Issue 28
January 2003


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Southern inspirations: cooking with bourbon

Martine Nouet crosses the Atlantic to bring you some fine recipes using quality bourbons

Bourbon is a delightful companion to food because it is usually drunk with ice and therefore at a lower alcoholic strength, which suits a table drink well. But it is also a great ingredient in food because of its rich, aromatic profile. The high percentage of corn in the mashbill brings sweet flavours to the distilled spirit, a characteristic that maturation emphasises with vanilla and caramel aromas released by new wood; a concentration of flavours not so frequent in single malts, especially in young ones. I compare cooking with bourbon to cooking with cognac. The strong influence of wood on both spirits favours wonderful combinations with desserts, probably the more obvious choice when you start concocting food and spirit combinations.

Here are some quick tips: add a few tablespoons of Blanton's Single Barrel to ice cream with maple syrup and caramelised pecan nuts; pan-fry bananas in melted butter and dark sugar, then pour a small glass of Maker's Mark into the pan, stir well and pour all the juices over the fried bananas. I would choose Blanton's for its spiciness and Maker's Mark for its sweetness. Of course, adding bourbon to any fruitcake is a real bonus.

But don't restrict it to sweet dishes. Mellowness does not only suit sweetness. On the contrary, using bourbon in savoury dishes creates a very interesting flavour balance. You will often find ingredients such as vinegar or lemon juice in bourbon recipes. That sour touch counterbalances the sweet contribution of th...

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