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Cheese and Whisky Pairing - Our Choices for Christmas

December 16, 2016

Cheese and Whisky Pairing - Our Choices for Christmas

Cheese and whisky: a match made (by angels) in heaven. 

Great food and drink are as much a part of Christmas as Santa Claus and mistletoe. Many of us will enjoy a fine single malt or a real artisanal cheese over the festive period. Alone, these may be divine. Together? Carefully-matched cheese and whisky can elevate your after-dinner spread to new levels entirely.

Here are some of our recommendations to really liven up your cheese board this Christmas.

Fettercairn with Barwheys Cheddar

  1. Hard cheese,such as Barwheys Ayrshire Cheese

Angel’s Recommendation: Fettercairn Personalised Single Cask Whisky

Barwheys Ayrshire Cheese is a rich, hard cheese, which hits your tongue with a slightly tart first note, before giving way to subtle hints of nuts and caramel.

Our 9 year old cask strength Fettercairn follows an almost identical flavour profile, matching the immediate tartness of the cheese with poached pears, before developing to vanilla and fudge in the mid-palate and finish.

The whisky has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel to contrast the gentle crunch of the cheese, yet accentuate its light, silky texture.

 Amrut with Arran Cheese

  1. Cheese with fruit, such as Arran Cheese’s Raspberry Infused Cranberry Cheddar

Angel’s Recommendation: Amrut Intermediate Sherry

The husky 6-row barley used by Amrut lends their whisky an unmistakable, rustic cereal character. It is therefore the ideal “oatcake” whisky, providing a biscuity base for the cheese flavours to shine.

Far from happy to linger in the background however, Amrut’s Intermediate Sherry expression is bottled at 57.1%, ensuring this dram packs enough bite to cut through the dense creaminess of the Arran Cheddar.

Sherry cask maturation has developed a ripe berry sweetness to pick out the raspberries in the cheese, whilst this period in European oak has also lent enough tannic bitterness to complement the cranberry.

Stronachie 10 Year Old with Aiket Cheese

  1. Soft cheese,such as Aiket – a Brie/Camembert style from Dunlop Dairy

Angel’s Recommendation: Stronachie 10 Years Old

For cheese-lovers, Brie and Camembert are the ultimate in smooth, oozy luxury. Any drink paired with a soft cheese must have enough acidity and bite to cut through the creaminess, yet be suitably restrained to showcase the more nuanced, umami character typical of a mould-ripened cheese like Aiket (or oakwood).

Our own Stronachie 10 Years Old has a subtle, earthy heather character to enhance the slightly funky, mushroom notes in the cheese. It also has the requisite cutting-power to break through the cream and cleanse the palate, just in time to move onto another section of the cheese board… 

Cu Bocan 1988 with Smoked Cheese

  1. Smoked cheese, such as Barwheys Smoked Cheddar

Angel’s Recommendation: Cú Bócan 1988

Barwheys use oak shavings from our local Grants Distillery to smoke their flagship cheddar, adding further depth to an already long and complex flavour.

Naturally, peated whisky is the perfect match for an oak-smoked cheese, as the taste buds find two smoky companions on the tongue. However, we don’t want the cheese to be over-powered, as it so easily could be with an Islay malt. Instead, the perfect match is Cú Bócan 1988, matured in ex-Islay casks.

Again, the whisky highlights all the right notes in the cheese, with a fruity tang, soft nuts, and butter cream in abundance. Crucially, the subtle oak-smoke in the cheese is lifted by a whisper of earthy peat in the whisky. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

Ardbeg 10 with Arran blue cheese

  1. Blue cheese, such as Arran Blue

Angel’s Recommendation: Ardbeg 10 Years Old

The strong flavours and complex nature of blue cheese (buttery, creamy, grassy, herbaceous, salty, spicy, tangy…) make an ideal pairing difficult to find. Indeed, most wine simply isn’t up to the task. Just like heavily-peated whisky, blue cheese divides opinion between those who love it and those who hate it.

Perhaps it’s not so surprising then that blue cheese finds its ideal match in the output from the Kildalton distilleries, Islay’s peat monsters. In particular, Ardbeg 10 Years Old delivers the perfect complement. Piney and herbal on the nose, followed by citrus and brine on the tongue. This classic single malt is oily and full, with a finish consisting of cinnamon, cracked black pepper, liquorice and aniseed.

Not for the faint-hearted, but for those who dare, this may be the most rewarding pairing of them all.

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We love matching whiskies with food and above are just some of our favourite cheese pairings. Let us know if you have any suggestions of your own, for cheese or any other food to go with your perfect dram. Our angels are never shy to volunteer when it comes to trying new whisky and food combinations…


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