Of course there’s no single correct way to consume single malt Scotch whisky-it all depends on personal preference, but consuming it with food opens up a world of aroma and flavor opportunities, notes Matthew Fergusson-Stewart, Glenfiddich Regional Brand Ambassador Southeast Asia.
It’s important to note that pairing whisky with food is not quite as easy as pairing wine with food. They don’t fit into two neat categories, such as white wine and red wine, and scotch has higher alcohol percentage, which makes it a little more difficult. Difficult, but potentially very rewarding, says Fergusson-Stewart. He suggests avoiding anything very spicy, bitter or laden with garlic as it will kill some of the flavors in the whisky.
Don’t always try to match flavors. Matching a smoky whisky with a smoked salmon might sound intuitive, but the whisky smoke will kill the delicate salmon smokiness. Try a pairing where a component of the dish complements a note in the whisky. For example, a whisky with a note of apple will go very well with pork or strawberries, but not with apples.
Food cooked with fat generally pairs quite well with whisky. A lot of herbs and spices will release their flavors into oil, so a little bit of chili in a dish with some olive oil will dissolve into the oil. Remember that alcohol will amplify the chili, so be judicious. Try Scampi sashimi, garnished with extra virgin olive oil, coriander and a small shaving of red chili, for example.
Think about pairing based on aromas and mouthfeels, as well as just matching the core flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. Our experience of food and drink is far more than just the flavors that we experience on our tongue.