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Meals and malts: A smooth guide to pairing food with your favourite bottle of whisky

A glass of smoke and oak doesn’t need more than ice or a splash of water to be enjoyable. That said, the distilled drink – much like wine – does work deliciously well with a host of culinary creations. Here’s how you can go about pairing food with whisky.

Dubbed the ‘gentleman’s drink,’ an amber – Japanese single malts to American bourbons – is complex in flavour. Depending on where and how it’s aged, it can boast the most eclectic mix of flavour notes – from the classic chocolate and cinnamon to more unique rambutan and cherry blossoms. For the most part, these are best identified when the malt is consumed on-the-rocks or neat. However, a few bottles truly complement certain culinary creations – Indian curries, cheese, the works – elevating the dining experience altogether. Whether you’ve got an at-home date lined up or a bottle of something special sitting pretty in your cabinet that you’d like to make the most of – we got the best in the business to guide us through the process of pairing whisky with food.

Check out our complete guide to whiskies in India

Pairing whisky with food: What to serve alongside popular bottles

Glenmorangie 10-Year-Old: Citrus Seared Scallops

Whisky food pairing

The name behind some of the malt world’s smoothest sips – Glenmorangie’s bottles are quite coveted. The original expression – which goes back over 175 years – was distilled twice in the tallest stills in Scotland and aged in ex-Bourbon American white oak casks. This gives it a delicate quality with fruity, citrus notes – particularly that of ripe peaches and vanilla. The finish is clean, with hints of orange lingering. This, according to Khushnaz Raghina, Brand Ambassador, Moët Hennessy India pairs is well complemented by delicately-seasoned seafood such as citrus-seared scallops. Other options include mushroom linguini with creamy cheese herb sauce. For the dessert course, orange and grapefruit sorbet with a salted caramel dark chocolate tart would work like a charm.

Ardbeg: Grilled Slow-Cooked Lamb With Herbed Gravy

food pairing

Having produced malts since 1815, Ardbeg is quite popular amidst connoisseurs. The award-winning 10-year-old expression comes with the aroma of black pepper. Every sip offers notes of bananas, buttermilk, toasted marshmallows, cappuccino, and currants. There’s also hints of menthol, lemon, baked pineapple, pear, and cinnamon-spiced dark chocolate. This, Khushnaz Raghina notes, elevates the flavour of a grilled slow-cooked lamb that’s served with a herbed gravy. You could also pair it with citrus and herbed seasoned grilled oysters or a grilled masala pomfret. Those with sweet teeth should pair their dram with a crème caramel flan.

Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey: Cheese Platter

Teeling Single Malt

With the reputation for unconventional and flavourful malts resting on its shoulders – Teeling promises a smooth sipping experience. The Single Malt is as fruity and complex as they come – courtesy of being finished in casks of five wines – Sherry, Madeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, Port, White Burgundy. This gives it notes of red berry, stone fruits, plum, apricot, lemon, figs, lemon, dried fruit, citrus, vanilla, cloves, toffee, and wood. No surprises why it pairs best with a hearty cheese board – especially blue cheeses, smoked gouda, and other rich styles of cheese. The malt also has a forward boldness which makes it a delight to sip alongside kofta, lamb, rogan josh, and smoked pork.

The Macallan Double Cask 15 Years Old: Sea Bass


Home to some of the world’s finest single malts, the name Macallan features in most connoisseur-grade collections. The 15-year-old expression is aged in two distinct, hand-crafted oak casks. Every sip is reminiscent of sultanas, vanilla, wood spice, and citrus. On the nose are hints of toffee, vanilla, oak, baked apple, dried fruit, toffee, honey, and chocolate. The finish is warm and creamy, with hints of ginger and caramel. This makes it pair well with seafood – particularly well-cooked sea bass whose sweetness enhances the vanilla notes of this whisky.

Royal Ranthambore Heritage Collection Whisky: Steak

Whisky food pairing

A limited-edition ode to the land of mighty kings and tigers – Ranthambore – this whisky from Radico Khaitan is a treat to savour. Every sip offers notes of English muffins, melted butter, plum cakes, apple pie, cocoa, and smoke. On the nose are hints of forest honey and spiced dried fruit, complemented by a long finish. This makes it pair well with a steak. The smokiness of the malt complements that of the meat while cutting through the richness. Need we say more?

Which of these do you most look forward to experiencing?

All images: Courtesy Brands/Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: What food goes best with whiskey?

Answer: Chocolate, dried fruit, and salmon are popular food choices to go with whisky.

Question: What to eat with Scotch?

Answer: Seafood, steak, and apple pie bring out the nuances of Scotches.

Question: What dessert goes well with bourbon?

Answer: Cheesecakes and cherry pies pair well with bourbons.

Question: Can whiskey be paired with food?

Answer: Yes, whiskey elevates the flavours of and is complimented by seafood and chocolate.

Meals and malts: A smooth guide to pairing food with your favourite bottle of whisky

Eshita is a food, alcohol, travel, and entertainment writer who spends her days thinking of the next big trend to write about. She’s a communication graduate with bylines in Conde Nast Traveller India, GQ India, Deccan Herald, and Girls Buzz. When not at work, you’re likely to find her hunting for a good read or charting out the perfect itinerary for a solo trip across Asia.


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