“Whisky is all about education, understanding and driving flavour exploration,” says Greg Dillon, spirits connoisseur and editor of the Great Drams blog. “The depth of flavour, the variety and the intrigue of whisky is what is driving the trend towards whisky being a great accompaniment to meals.”
Clearly, wine isn’t the only drink capable of being the perfect match for food. Whisky is gaining in popularity as the ideal partner for a range of dishes, from light starters to desserts. The many flavour descriptions vary from light to full-bodied; from a touch of sweetness and fruit, to more complex and bold with strong peat, earthy and smoky notes.
Whisky is a great match for seafood, cheese, smoked and roasted meats, and desserts. The lighter styles fare better with smoked salmon and sushi, while medium-bodied whiskies work with smoked fish such as mackerel.
Full-bodied, aged in cask, and strong, smoky, peat styles are fabulous with dark chocolate, fruitcake and Christmas pudding, steak, roast venison, haggis and mature and blue cheeses. Pour a few generous drops into the dish you’re cooking and the whisky will even help to deepen and develop the flavours.
And Dillon says fans of the dram are getting younger. “People who drink whisky are no longer mainly 40-plus males. An influx of 28 to 35-year-olds, the millennials, are breaking all the traditional category codes and norms in how it is consumed, what it is paired with and when whisky is enjoyed, too.”
So, whether you’re in need of comfort and consolation as winter deepens, or if you’re celebrating, opt for whisky instead of your fail-safe, warming Malbec and see where the adventure takes you. Here, Dillon gives his choice of five tipples, each with a different style and varying maturation level.
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