Whiskey and Cheese: Mix and Match
Whiskey or whisky, no matter how you want to spell it, can really spice up any occasion especially if matched with the perfect combo. Some people might find it weird to pair up cheese with whiskey, but to some, it could just be the best. The thing is, we all are different: in our needs, wants and even up to the teeny tiny strands of our DNA. What we should keep in mind is on how a simple beverage can unite people as one even for just a short moment.
As humans, there is an unspoken vagueness on how we’re attracted to alcohol the same way as how we react to certain stimulus. We may try to refuse the idea of drinking alcohol but once it’s near enough to be sensed in our radar, it seems like our body automatically sends a signal in our brain to go grab a bottle or two.
Though having different tastes and tolerances, alcohol is one of many things that unite people of different races and culture. Beer, being the most consumed alcoholic drink globally, could be the safest choice for starters when asked for their go-to drink. While some who have higher alcohol tolerance and maybe those whom we can consider an alcohol connoisseur would opt to have either wine or whiskey/whisky (depending on which part of the world it is and you are from.)
It’s part of almost every culture to incorporate drinking in every single occasion there is. Drinking can symbolize a soon to bloom camaraderie over newly met acquaintances, a congratulatory action to reward one’s self for doing a good job, an escape from a broken heart or even just for a pure, friendly get together.
Whiskey and Cheese? Why?
As we venture along the steamy number of trends 2018 offered, one thing that we can interestingly talk about is the whiskey and cheese pairing. You heard it correctly. It may seem like a blow and at some point, repulsive, but believe it or not these two surprisingly go well together!
Whiskey is one thing that we must thank the Irish for, for without them, we wouldn’t be able to have a taste of all the glory this alcohol has to offer. This alcoholic beverage gave Ireland its international identity by being one of the world’s largest exporters of whiskey back in 2016 alongside beer.
Cheese is, of course, one of the most sought out food no matter where you are in the world with its hundreds or even thousands of variations. Who would’ve known cheese could actually go well with whiskey? It works almost the same way as the wine and cheese pairing: a strong scented and heavily flavored cheese would require a strong Malt whiskey while a softer-flavored cheese matches well with the light, smooth Scotch. Opposites attract? Not all the time!
In order for you to come up with the perfect whiskey and cheese combination best suited for your taste buds, it’s better if you have an idea about the different types of cheeses and whiskeys alike.
Types of Cheese
Brie is a soft, creamy type of cheese with a generally mild flavor from the Brie region of Northern France. It is pale yellow in color with a white rind. Before fermentation, cream is added to it which gives this cheese a higher fat content.
Camembert has a medium, pungent smell with a soft, creamy texture and having the same color as Brie. It is one of the most famous cheeses in the world produced in the Normandy region of France. This type of cheese ages quicker due to it being fermented in smaller sizes. It is almost comparable with Brie but is more pungent which puts people off.
Cheddar cheese might possibly be the most famous cheese ever. It originated in Somerset, England and has a mild to pungent smell. Its texture and color may vary from being soft and smooth to crumbly and pale white to orange. The cheddar cheese has different kinds depending on its strength and how long the cheese was aged.
4. Cottage Cheese
Cottage Cheese originated in the United States and has a moist and creamy texture. It is said to be very different from most other varieties. Due to the different production process, the nutrition profile is very different from other types of cheese. It has a very low-fat content and is therefore much lower in calories.
5. Feta Cheese
Feta Cheese has a creamy to a mild texture which originated in Greece. Unlike many other kinds of cheese, it is not named after the place where it first originated, In fact, the word ‘feta’ actually means ‘slice’ in English. Feta has a unique taste and is very soft and creamy with a salty and tangy taste.
The Gorgonzola is a strong and powerful cheese from Italy that offers a punch of massive flavor. There are two main varieties of this cheese: Dolce and Piccante. Dolce Gorgonzola is usually aged for less than three months giving it a very soft, creamy and almost spreadable consistency. The Piccante Gorgonzola on the other hand ages for between six and twelve months which packs a punch in the flavor department.
Gouda originated from the town of Gouda in the Southern Netherlands. Its taste, texture, and flavor can vary a lot due to the extensive differences in aging time anywhere from one to thirty-six months. The younger the cheese is, the lighter the flavor.
Gruyere is a Swiss cheese originated from the medieval town of Gruyeres in Fribourg, Switzerland. It is hard with a dense, compact texture but has a good depth of flavors. Gruyere is aged between six months to even a year which is responsible for the harder texture. As the cheese mature, so does the flavor.
Havarti is a Danish cheese originated from Denmark with a semi-soft texture. The flavor of Havarti develops as it ages but no matter how old it gets, it stays smooth and creamy in contrast with the previously mentioned types of cheese.
Mascarpone is a very mild, soft and creamy type of cheese from Italy. It is a fresh cheese and does not undergo fermentation. It is commonly used as an ingredient for the Italian dessert tiramisu and risotto. Many cheesecakes use it too. To some people, it is said to be a more flavorful version of cream.
Mozzarella is one of the best-known cheeses in the world. It is soft and chewy which is traditionally made from Italian Buffalo’s milk. It comes in two varieties; fresh and dried. The fresh one is edible by itself and is frequented to put in various salads while the dried Mozzarella is for culinary purposes, most commonly pizza, lasagna and other baked dishes.
12. Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan)
Parmigiano-Reggiano, commonly known as Parmesan is a dry, crumbly cheese with a strong flavor. It is used as a condiment for various dishes and may come in a granular, powdery form.
13. Pecorino Romano
Pecorino Romano is one of the world’s oldest and favorite cheeses. Dating back to Roman times, it was even a part of the staple diet for Roman legions. It uses sheep’s milk and is very hard and salty, therefore justifying its old nature. Being very similar to Parmesan in appearance, the key difference is that it tastes saltier.
Roquefort is a French variation of blue cheese. It is locally known as ‘the king of cheese’. It comes from sheep’s milk and is ripened in the caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, Southern France. According to some sources, these caves contain a scrupulous type of bacteria in their soil which gives Roquefort some unique characteristics. This bacterium is known as Penicillium roqueforti, and studies suggest that it may help to guard against cardiovascular disease. This cheese has a sharp and tangy flavor and is typically aged for around five months.
Wensleydale is a famous British cheese originally from the village of Wensleydale in North Yorkshire, England. It has a white to pale-yellow appearance and a crumbly texture. Interestingly, it is sometimes combined with fruits, especially cranberries and apricots.
There are 6 types of whiskeys in existence. Though they undergo almost the same process, whiskeys are created differently. Some could taste better depending on their age, type and flavor made specifically for the various types of people with different tastes and tolerance. So make sure to familiarize yourself with their subtle to intense flavor variation for a better drinking experience.
Types of Whiskeys
Bourbon is a type of American whiskey aged in two to eight years. It is a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn. Bourbon whiskey has a sweet, woody flavor with a slight tinge of vanilla. It has a reputation of being paired with smoked rib and is often associated with the state of Kentucky.
Rye whiskey can refer to either American rye whiskey or Canadian whiskey, which are both aged in two to ten years primarily made from rye grains. It has a light and spicy taste as compared to the sweet and woody flavor of bourbon.
Tennessee whiskey is a straight whiskey produced in Tennessee. However, in some international trade agreements, it has been legally defined as a bourbon whiskey. It is aged from three to four years and has a sweet flavor with a hint of charcoal. Its color can be placed in comparison with bourbon with its light brown to amber color.
Canadian whiskeys are mostly a blend of multi-grain liquors containing a large percentage of corn spirits. It is significantly lighter and smoother than any other whiskeys. It’s produced in Canada and aged from four to six years.
Scotch whiskey or often called scotch is primarily made from malted barley and produced in Scotland. Recently though, commercial distilleries began to introduce Scotch made from wheat and rye. It is divided into five distinct categories: single malt Scotch whiskey, single grain Scotch whiskey, blended grain Scotch whiskey and blended Scotch whiskey. All Scotch whiskeys must be aged in oak barrels for three to thirty years.
Irish whiskey is made from Ireland, hence the name. It’s aged for three to twelve years and has a sweet honey toast flavor which is perfect with seafood. The Irish have a traditional practice of placing the whiskey in wood casks. What makes the Irish whiskey one of a kind is the use of ‘peat’ which is rarely used in the malting process. It gives the Irish whiskey a smoother finish compared to the smoky tinge common to some Scotches.
It’s a match!
1. Irish whiskey and cheddar
The blended Irish whiskey has a light, approachable, malty and is generally a smoky type of whiskey. It’s perfect to enjoy this drink with one of the most famous cheeses, cheddar, with its light to intense flavor variation.
2. Japanese whiskey and brie
Though Japanese whiskey is increasingly hard to come by, get your hands on to some of these and match it with our favorite white mold cheese like brie or camembert. Its subtle whiff of smoke is perfect for this type of cheese.
3. Australian whiskey and manchego
Australian whiskey is more likely a combination of Scotch and American bourbon, then aged for a time in Australia. This results in a bright and fresh whiskey with a great texture and lots of vanilla and fruit notes perfect to pair with manchego. This Spanish sheep’s milk cheese is well aged but isn’t too strong.
4. Canadian whiskey and chevre
Canadian whiskeys are light, sweet and easy-drinking which have lots of vanilla and caramel character due to being aged from three different kinds of American Oak barrels. Something that is light and fresh with a tinge of acid goes well with this taste like a chevre, a fresh goat’s cheese in ash.
5. Scotch and mild blue cheese
A classic coastal single malt Scotch has a fantastic malt texture and a hint of sea brine pairs well with a cheese that’s got a bit of acidity and punch on a tolerable level like gorgonzola dolce.
Drinking is good. Especially with the right food alongside it, interesting people to drink with and moderation, it could be so much better! Whiskey could mean the ‘water of life,’ but that doesn’t mean you have to let your life revolve around it.