It is often said that where MBAs are known to strut around with strategies that fail, an ordinary man on the street is replete with ideas that are workable… and often work. So it is with the mighty writers and food specialists telling us of what can be subtle and what is too raucous for pairing with a whisky. They will have us believe that only some things go with a whisky and others don’t. the same is the case when they are talking about wines… or even the lowly beers.
The truth is that taste is a matter of your own choice and depends also on your mood and the environment you’re sitting in. Let’s presume you are in an airport lounge where all you see when you look around are people carrying boxes of chocolates… and some are even opening their packs and eating them right there. So when the visual as well as the taste-bud titillation is chocolaty, do you think it would be great to go ahead and pair that heavenly Black Dog TRG that you’re sipping, with a strong cheese? Or will it fine to go ahead and pair it with a huge plate of duck meat? Come on, all that great pairing needs is a robust common sense.
Now once the need for common sense is clear, let me add that in earlier times having whisky with a meal was more because of social and geographical position rather than the dictates of fashion. The Wikipedia states that ‘in the Scottish Lowlands, whisky was consumed only by those at the bottom of the social scale, whereas the upper class would enjoy claret or rum punch with their food’. With its ability for peripheral vasodilation, a whisky is more popular in the colder countries as it warms the body much faster than other alcoholic beverages. However, whisky drinkers do have a better sense of realism in their drinking habits as well as their food pairing abilities. They know intuitively that a fresh, light-bodied Lowland single malt will go well with a fish dish and that a heavier, more aromatic whisky will go well with beef or duck. Some writers point out that the ‘lighter, fruitier Japanese whiskies like Yamazaki (best served chilled) go well with tuna and salmon in sushi and sashimi dishes.’ The basic funda in all these pairing that I have mentioned is not to allow any one flavour to dominate the other… the secret is to ‘complement and enhance’.
One of the questions that many whisky drinkers keep asking each other is: ‘How well does a whisky go with sweet dishes?’ Yes, sweet dishes make a lovely combination with whisky because the acidic nature of a whisky tends to cut through sweetness even as it neutralises excessive fat or richness in other dishes.
And did someone ever mention that a whisky is ideal for stir frying? Or for cooking any of our wonderful dishes this side of the world? Whisky can also be used as a marinade and also in fruit salads and traditional fruit cake. Whisky can be used to make that wonderful French flambé too. So just go ahead and pair that Black Dog TGR in your glass with rich fruit cakes, roast venison, especially with caramelised roast root vegetables, ginger biscuits, sticky toffee pudding, mature cheddar, char siu pork and seasoned or grilled steak… or any of the grilled dishes that you love. All of them go well with medium bodied whiskies aged in sherry casks or even European oak casks… and if you’re having one that has been matured thrice, you’re not going to be fussy about pairing anyway.
So the one idea that works is not to be extremely fussy about food pairing… just go with the moment, your mood, the ambience, and obviously, your hunger pangs! You are important… and Black Dog TGR knows that very well!
Disclaimer: The content of this post is meant only for people above the age of 25.
19 May 2014