When we first contemplated the idea of pairing Scotch whisky and cheese we were optimistic that it might succeed, though I admit we had reservations. It was not some zany new idea that had never been experienced before; after all, when the purity of water available was questionable, Scotch would serve us well. Or adding a little Scotch to that water might kill off some of the pathogens.
Eating savory cheese elevates thirst. Be careful slaking thirst with Scotch. Know your capacity! However, if you have a hard time appreciating Scotch you may want to try a little artisan cheese alongside it. Cheese has a special way of softening the jolt.
In a recent Single & Blended Scotch with Cheese class, we were impressed with the pairings: not a bad match among the 28 combinations, and several of them were remarkably delicious. The quality of the whiskeys had something to with this of course, and the selection of cheeses had at least as much to do with the many good matches.
We were able to detect nuances in the cheeses by taking small sips with each of the whiskeys. Adding just a little water to each Scotch helped open up the flavors. It seemed that everyone in the class was in agreement about the relative successes, more so than in most wine or beer classes.
The star Scotch of the evening was Chieftain’s Glen Moray 18 y.o. from Speyside, which scored exceptionally well with most all of the cheeses including the Berkshire Blue. Only the Laguiole fell a little flat, not bad, but not nearly as thrilling as all the others. The Fiscalini Bandaged Cheddarwas a little dominating with this beautiful blend.
Conversely, the cheese standout partners for these various whiskeys were Royale and Sbrinz. These two cheeses have proven to be reliable partners for just about any beverage we have thrown their way, often yielding those elusive “marriages-made-in-heaven.”
The first time you try pairing Scotch with cheese you may miss some of the finer points of the exercise, especially if you guzzle the whisky. Having more than one Scotch helps to distinguish the cheeses one from another, just as having more than one cheese helps distinguish the whiskeys.