A Guide To Food & Whisky Pairing - Taste & Flavors


As whisky makes its way into more and more people’s regular roster of spirits and as interest in it grows, we team up Walid Merhi, co-owner of Ferdinand Bar, to create a short, comprehensive guide on how to pair this versatile drink with the appropriate foods.

Is whisky pairing a thing?

Yes, it is. It’s a normal practice that is becoming more and more commercial. “I would argue that it has even more depth than wine,” says Merhi, “nowadays, whisky is becoming more popular than wine; and alcohol in general is very complementary to food.”

How did it come to be?

Pairing food with whisky adds a unique level to both the food and the whisky. It gives the spirit a unique flavor and highlights a specific note in it.


When pairing whisky with food, here are some cardinal rules to always keep in mind:

  1. Never pair whisky with sour or tart foods.
  2. Anything with some fat works best.
  3. Dry fruits with a pungent food (such as caviar or blue cheese) are a good combination work well.
  4. The stronger the whisky, the weaker the food should be. That being said, when drinking a lower-intensity whisky, one should make sure not to eat foods that will overpower the spirit.
  5. The food and the whisky should always complement each other.


Here are some of the many ways to pair whisky with food:

  1. Single malts with weaker-intensity foods.
  2. Blended whisky works best with sweet fruits (apples, jujube, quince, etc) or salty nuts. “I once went to a tasting and discovered cherries are actually a very good pairing option with whisky.”
  3. Peated whisky with raw seafood. The smokiness of the peated whisky compliments the seafood very well.
  4. Whisky aged in white wine casks with fruit
  5. Whisky aged in red wine casks (ex. cherry wood casks) with dark chocolate (high concentration of cocoa)
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