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6 tips to match whisky with food

First it was wine, then it was beer, now it seems whisky is the perfect food match of the moment. But how do you match whisky to your five-course dinner party?

Victor Grunewald from Melbourne's exclusive private members club Candela Nuevo is a whisky expert so we asked him his best tips for matching whisky with food.

VG: Whisky and food matching is very simple once you get to understand what you are drinking. You have a world of choice such as a single malt, blended, peated, rye, bourbon… and the list goes on.

1. To start

If you are snacking on nuts to start, I always recommend a classic whisky cocktail such a whisky sour (one of my favourites). Use a blended scotch such as Dewar’s 12YO or Johnny Walker black. Don't think that you need a bartender to make this drink, its very simple to make - and delicious.

2. Canapes

For canapes, match a light and fragrant whisky on the rocks or with a dash of water*. Something like Glenmorangie 18YO,  Balvenie 14YO or Glenfiddich 15YO would be a great choice.   

3. Entree

With a fresh cold entree I would be inclined to stay on the lighter whiskies with a few drops of water/ice to release the aromas, without compromising the taste of the dish. If your choice of entree is something like steak tartare or anything with more bite, move towards the more spicy, smoky and nutty flavours - but NOT peaty -  like Caol Ila 10 or Glenlivet 18YO.

4. Main

Moving onto the mains you have a lot more choice. Here look at medium bodied whiskies with perhaps some peated influence. Smoked wild game meats or a strong flavoured fish can be enjoyed with some of the Macallan and Glenfiddich families…. If you are feeling cashed-up, splurge on a Bruichladdich Black Art 1990. Go for a more full bodied and rich whisky if you are serving a heavier meat like seared steak.  

5. Dessert

Choose an amazing smooth and sweet bourbon like Hudson Baby bourbon, Jack Daniel's Sinatra, Eagle Rare 10 or even Basil Hayden’s with dessert. The sweetness and warmth of the bourbon, paired with vanilla ice cream, pecan pie or dulce de leche crepe will finish your epic dinner party on a high note!

6. To finish

You will notice that I avoided the peated whiskies, however now is when they come into the picture. Rich, full bodied peated whiskies can be enjoyed with some aged cheddar or a creamy strong roquefort and various blues. Dark chocolate is also a winner while sipping some Lagavulin 16YO, Laphroaig 10 or Talisker 10. The powerful flavours of the heavy peated whiskies can definitely be overpowering, that's why it's a good tip to leave them at the end.

*TIP: Adding ice or water releases the flavour of the whisky and also brings down the alcohol content. At Candela Nuevo (members club in Melbourne CBD) we take all spirits very seriously, therefore water and ice are a very important part of the whisky experience. Filtered water and minerals free ice (special ice chests) will certainly make the whisky reach a new level in terms of flavours.  

Published 20 June 2017

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