HOW TO HOST A PROPER WHISKY
FOOD PAIRING DINNER
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s twelve proprietary flavor profiles lend a great hand when looking to pair whisky with food for an extravagant affair. Easily ordered from “young & spritely” to “heavily peated,” it’s a near foolproof approach to have your whiskies ascend in order of the SMWS flavor profile chart. That said, nuances do exist throughout the chart when incorporating food pairing. Trial and error is easily the best way to learn how to pair food with wine and spirits. When it’s right it’s right – you’ll most definitely know if you let your palate be your guide!
As an example, allow me to take you through a decadent Friday evening amongst my closest friends. When it comes to beginning the evening, charcuterie and cheese are often where I’ll start. In true aperitif fashion, I often find myself to be famished after the first few sips of whisky at the start of the evening. You’ll want to make sure you have a great assortment of cheeses and cured meats, inclusive of items like cornichons, mustard and other accoutrements such as jams, spreads, nuts and dried fruits to usher your guests into the night. Nothing goes better with this first course than a “light & delicate” whisky whispering of pear and stone fruits to pair with!
From there, even if I’m entertaining at home, I’ll often look to the decadence of raw bar. For instance, something as simple as shrimp cocktail or crab legs can be a real statement piece – bravo to those who are even shucking oysters at home! I’ve also been known to break out the caviar with close friends over great conversation – ah, let’s hear it for the finer things! A whisky that is both clean and refreshing and holds up to the savory, rich elements of cocktail sauce, belinis and crème fraîche are our “young & spritely” SMWS whiskies. This is a course where the food takes the center stage and the whisky happily plays a strong first fiddle.
Now that we’ve enjoyed a few appetizers to whet the palate, duck confit or rotisserie chicken are both simple dishes that when done right can be absolutely exquisite. When pairing whisky with poultry, I tend to stick between “spicy & sweet” and “deep, rich & dried fruits,” as I find these profiles stand up well to lighter meats. If going more towards red meat, I’ve found “old & dignified” SMWS whiskies to be nearly synonymous with a robust glass of weighty red wine – often even better! Trust me on this one.
Lastly, when it comes to dessert: save the peat for last! These smoke shows are outstanding with rich, velvety dark chocolate, such as a ganache cake or my absolute favorite, an explosive, creamy flourless chocolate cake. My favorite chocolates will usually have a savory element to them specifically to stand up to the peat; whether it’s sea salt or even olive oil, I find the most savory chocolates go outstandingly well with everything on the very end of the SMWS flavor profile chart, from “oily & coastal” to “heavily peated” whiskies.
And there you have it – a decadent evening at home, entertaining friends and family! W hat better way to break bread together than while showing off your Society whisky collection?