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Whiskey/Bourbon Tasting - food pairing suggestions?

The Oracle Jun 21, 2013 05:05 PM

I'm in the early stages of planning a whiskey/bourbon tasting.... guest list could range between 12-18/20 people. I've never held such an event. Wine and cheese tasting, no problem... but whiskey/bourbon? is a bit out of my comfort zone.

Any thoughts of what would pair well with misc. whiskey/bourbons and/or what I should have on hand for such an event?

Thanks in advance!

  1. cowboyardee Jun 23, 2013 01:56 PM

    Many good suggestions already.

    I'll add that home-pickled vegetables of many sorts pair well with bourbon. Use a decent bit of salt and a little sugar in the pickling solution. Go for big flavors. Then just a bit of trial and error to see which pickle works best with which liquor. Fermented pickles also work well.

    1. d
      Dirtywextraolives Jun 23, 2013 01:29 PM

      How about some deviled eggs? Or bacon candy? Seems like one would want some fatty bites to coat the mouth a bit while enjoying the sharp bite of the whiskey or bourbon.

      1. Paprikaboy Jun 23, 2013 06:37 AM

        I had chocolate truffles with a Caol Isla the other day.
        It was a great combination. So if you're serving any Islay malts maybe consider some kind of chocolate as well as savoury combinations.

        1. ipsedixit Jun 22, 2013 07:25 PM


          1. hotoynoodle Jun 22, 2013 09:40 AM

            recently made scotch eggs, that i "deviled" with bacon and bourbon in the filling. used bacon fat and mayo in there too. big hit at a kentucky derby party.

            spreads of smoked fish, like salmon and trout, with traditional accompaniments would work also.

            have on hand pitchers of plain water and also buckets of ice with tongs. some like a splash of water or a cube in their whiskey or bourbon, and no, neither is heresy.

            7 Replies
            1. re: hotoynoodle
              LaLa Jun 22, 2013 04:21 PM

              I firmly disagree with ice or god forbid water, but to each their own....

              1. re: LaLa
                hotoynoodle Jun 22, 2013 04:27 PM

                i've worked many events with the ambassadors from johnny walker and quite a few with single malt scotch specialists, and none have issues with adding a thimbleful of water to a whiskey.

                there is an old chemistry 104 term called "heat of solution." this rule essentially states that when two chemicals are mixed, they may "take on" or "release" energy, thus becoming cooler or warmer. when you mix whiskey and water, the solution becomes slightly warmer, thus releasing the ethyl alcohols which contain much of the aroma of the single malt.

                the sense of smell profoundly influences the sense of taste.

                1. re: hotoynoodle
                  LaLa Jun 22, 2013 04:51 PM

                  Like I said to each their own....I only drink Bourbon (made in Ky) and I only drink it neat.

                  1. re: LaLa
                    hotoynoodle Jun 23, 2013 06:24 AM

                    bourbon is only made in kentucky. :)

                    1. re: hotoynoodle
                      LaLa Jun 23, 2013 03:34 PM

                      Well not everyone believes that but I sure do!!!!

                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                        ChristinaMason Jun 23, 2013 06:51 PM

                        erm, no.

                2. re: hotoynoodle
                  The Oracle Jun 22, 2013 05:30 PM

                  Interesting to incorporate the booze into the food... that would make for an interesting twist to the tasting!

                3. s
                  sparky403 Jun 22, 2013 12:28 AM

                  Please let is know what you decide.. but if I were you - I would post this question in the both the wine and sprits section.


                  1. s
                    sparky403 Jun 22, 2013 12:24 AM

                    First of all: What a great idea for an event.....

                    Your tasting menu screams BEEF - there's a very recent thread about Beef Crostini, I think, It would go very well for your tasting - some combination of grilled beef, carmelized onions and blue cheese?

                    Pork & Bacon must also be on this Menu [Emphasis Added].

                    Pulled pork with one of the whiskey's made into the sauce? as a slider or on a small biscutt would be a very nice bite.

                    (You must expand on Idea's around pork & bacon ~ lest the whiskey gods will frown on you! This couldn't be good).

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: sparky403
                      tim irvine Jun 22, 2013 07:52 AM

                      Did an open faced sandwich recently that was sourdough topped with thin sliced flat iron, nice and rare, topped with roasted tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese, and a drizzle of EVOO...I'd recommend it paired with a very solid bourbon, like a Knob Creek or Bookers. For finger foods I am addicted to blue cheese truffle French fries.

                      You could do a slider smorgasbord. Buns with an array of sliced smoked brisket, pulled pork, pepper bacon, and grilled sliced brats and assorted toppings like grilled onions, different cheeses, chili sauce, different mustards, etc. Put out an array of bourbons that are very different like an EW single barrel, a Four Roses small batch, a Booker's, and a Rip Van Winkle. Give folks index cards and pens to make comments on the best pairings. This is turning into one of my favorite threads and making me think about my half bottle of Willlett at 9:50 a.m.

                      1. re: tim irvine
                        The Oracle Jun 22, 2013 05:28 PM

                        Love the slider smorgasbord idea! Tons of flexibility with a central food 'theme'....

                      2. re: sparky403
                        The Oracle Jun 22, 2013 05:30 PM

                        I'm guessing the whiskey gods are definitely NOT vegetarian! ;)

                        1. re: The Oracle
                          sparky403 Jun 23, 2013 11:05 AM

                          You are correct sir:-) - to my knowledge the whisky Gawds are a meat loving lot.

                      3. d
                        Dirtywextraolives Jun 21, 2013 10:11 PM

                        What a fun idea!

                        1. LaLa Jun 21, 2013 07:17 PM

                          I am from Ky so bourbon is pretty common at our events...ok it's a must.
                          Some thoughts...
                          Cheese straws
                          Pimento cheese bites
                          Beaten biscuits with a sliver of country ham or country ham mixed into a fluffier biscuit
                          Corn pudding on a appetizer spoon
                          Scallops are great with bourbon
                          Pulled pork on little rolls
                          Blue cheese is excellent with bourbon
                          Butter type lettuces
                          Deviled eggs
                          Grits with cheese
                          Carmelized onion pizza or flatbread
                          Mac and cheese bites

                          Bacon bacon bacon

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: LaLa
                            rjbh20 Jun 21, 2013 07:22 PM

                            Couldn't have said it better myself.

                            1. re: LaLa
                              tim irvine Jun 21, 2013 08:51 PM

                              Dang those all sound good. BTW scallops and country ham pair well, and I have not yet had an experience that wasn't at least harmonious with if not enhanced by bourbon except for maybe a long bike ride on a hot day.

                              1. re: LaLa
                                The Oracle Jun 22, 2013 05:24 PM

                                Beautiful! Thank you!!!!

                              2. tim irvine Jun 21, 2013 06:25 PM

                                Never done it with bourbon, but I had a meal of UK foods paired with Scotch. I loved the lighter one, a Dalwinnie, with lamb chops, a Lagavulin with something heavier i cannot recall, and a Macallan 21 with bread pudding. iMHO bourbon has not got the range of Scotch, but I have not tried them all. That new blue corn and some of the new ones coming out of the West Coast might have more range, but to me most Kentucky bourbons, while nuanced, are not as strikingly different as a Highland and an Islay or a pinot Gris and a grand old cabernet.

                                1. r
                                  rjbh20 Jun 21, 2013 05:54 PM

                                  Presumably this is in the evening and you're looking for small bites?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rjbh20
                                    The Oracle Jun 22, 2013 05:23 PM

                                    Yes, exactly!

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