Single Malt Whiskies Paired with Cheeses
The key with pairing whiskies with cheese is to identify the different styles of whiskies and the Scotch Whisky Flavour Map is a great help in identifying them (can be found on google very easily)
From the light floral aromas and tastes of unpeated Lowland malts to the smoky, peaty heavyweights from Islay, with Highland, Speyside and Island malts in between, there is a wealth of aromas and flavours.
The other key factor in the malts is whether they have been matured in sherry or bourbon casks - totally different tastes develop dependent upon the wood.
One of the interesting things to note is that so many of the tasting notes used to describe whiskies are the same as those used to describe wines - floral, grassy, smoky, nutty, citrus, fruity - all words familiar to turophiles as well as whiskyphiles.
Of course, taste and flavours are very personal and one man’s delight will be another man’s poison but notwithstanding that, there are some simple guidelines that can be followed to make the most of the unusual (to some) pairing of cheese and whisky.
It is impossible to avoid naming specific malts as they vary so much but here are a few of the outstanding pairings we have tried and have proved very popular with a broad spectrum of customers - even the non whisky drinkers (although they are now converts - to their preferred style of whisky)
Glengoyne 10 year old (unpeated and matured in sherry casks) - a light floral style malt - fantastic with any triple cream cheeses that Burgundy and Champagne are famed for - e.g. Chaource, Vignette, Delice de Bourgogne
Auchentoshan Three Wood (matured in bourbon, olorosso and pedro ximinez casks) - this is a great whisky for newcomers to whisky - light but with a deep richness particularly from the PX casks - like a light christmas pudding - most amazing combination when paired with top quality Swiss Gruyere - we used Le Cret and it was voted the best combination by almost all of our customers - nutty, rich, grassy, complex - the whisky and the cheese
Highland Park 12 year old (matured in sherry casks on Orkney) - rich and peaty without being too smoky - we found that an Aged Gouda was a great match for this Orcadian smoothie
Ardbeg 10 year old (a smoky phenolic monster from Islay and matured in sherry casks) - the rich complexity of this great malt worked like a dream with salty Roquefort (we used Vieux Berger) - the saltiness from the Islay sea air and the saltiness in the blue were a sublime pairing.
Final note - when tasting whisky, it is advisable to add a very small amount of top quality spring water to the whisky - about one fifth as much water - this helps the aromas and flavours open up and reveal themselves to the drinker