WHISKY & CHEESE
1980’s, Covent Garden, London. Amidst the hustle and bustle of shops, was a little cheese shop, but no ordinary one. This was evident by the line of customers who gathered each day, waiting patiently for their turn with the shop owner.
But this shop owner was a shrewd salesman as much as he was cheese merchant. Each day, he would give each customer a beverage to pair with their cheese. This garnered him much adoration from the crowds of people.
As time went on however his patience grew thin, he was annoyed at having to go over this constant banter with his customers. He was a Cheese shop owner after all, not a sommelier.
So he hatched an idea, to give them an absurd combination to go with their cheese. Something that would stop them from wasting his day with their constant bickering.
So the next morning he told each customer to eat their cheese with whisky. And not just any whisky, but a bottle of Laphraoig, a whisky he disliked as much as he had begun to dislike their squabbling.
So as he lay in bed that night he wondered of all the scorns he would receive the next day, but at least he would get rid of their nagging.
But that was not to be. The next day he was astounded at how each customer thanked him for such a wonderful combination. He couldn’t believe it.
But as he considered the vile liquid and sipped it slowly after tasting some cheese, he was shocked. A humble cheese shop owner had unwittingly made history. – Urban Legend
Whisky and cheese is certainly an odd choice of couple. Do they really go together? Certainly they do, but as with any gastronomical novelty, be prepared to have to develop a taste for it. Stilton and Laphraoig is not the first thing that pops in your mind when you think about naturally made pairing. But you might yet be surprised.
But there are some guidelines to keep in mind, all of which are based on the flavor camp of the whisky in question, for which you will have to go back here. This is often effected by not only how the whisky has been distilled, or how the barley used has been peated, but more so because of what kind of cask has been used.
For instance a relatively sharp cheese like extra aged Gouda would go well with a whisky aged in a sherry cask, the cask imparting a sort of tartness and tannin content that would vis-a-vis compliment the cheese.
The question of mouth feel or texture is not as prominent in whiskey as it is in wine – however, there are lighter and heavier whiskies, and the principle states that a harder cheese should be paired with a lighter whisky and a creamier cheese with a heavier whisky.
So here are some tips on pairing whisky with cheese:
- Use spicy and woody whiskies, such as those found in the highlands and Speyside for Pecorino, Saler and Cheddar. The whisky is light and the cheese on the harder to semi hard side, also with very strong flavours cut by the whisky.
- Floral and Fruity whiskies should be recommended for Goat Cheeses, this includes Glenlivet or Glenfiddich which help in promoting the youth of the cheese while also accentuating its earthy flavours.
- Parmesan and Gouda go well with a spicy whisky like Oban, once again the richness being cut by the almost cinnamon like toast of the whisky.
- Comte cheese would again go very well with fruity, floral whiskies, as a smokier alternative would take over the nuances of the cheese.
- Smoky whiskies such as Islay and Island style whiskies go well with soft and smokier cheese. Blue cheese like Stilton also does the trick very well as the smoke tends to remove the funkiness of the cheese while simultaneously accentuating its rich flavor.
But once again my dear reader, it is a matter of going out and trying your own hand at tasting cheese with whisky. You might not like it at first (I’ll admit, neither did I) but I can guarantee that after some trial and testing, it will leave you with an unforgettable experience.
Stay tuned for next week, where a journey of a certain gentlemen and his famous No. 7 , takes stage.
So until next time, happy drinking.