We’re all used to sloshing a bit of wine in with a stew or bolognese, so why should this be any different? Indeed, experts say that whiskey is an excellent flavour enhancer, bringing out the flavor of the sea in seafood, the smokiness of smoked food, and the sweetness in a dessert.
Rachel Barrie, master blender for Bowmore Distilleries, told The Guardian:
“whiskey has an incredibly diverse flavour spectrum, much more so than wine. The flavours of a single malt Scotch whiskey, for example, are derived from malted barley fermentation, the distillation process and maturation in oak casks over several years, which makes it ideal to boost a wide variety of flavours in foods.”
Whiskey, as we know, has a huge variety of types and flavours. So which kind of whiskey is best for which kind of food?
Bourbon whiskey such as the infamous Jack Daniels is a type of American barrel-aged whiskey, made primarily from corn, characterised by its strong smoky, sweet flavour.
It’s similar to brandy in its flavour profile, so can be used in its place for a variety of recipes where brandy is usually used, such as in custards, creams and brandy sauce.
Hailing from the southern states of the US, Bourbon is also a mainstay of American “barbeque” food. Its high sugar content means it’s perfect for making a barbeque glaze to be lovingly smeared over slow cooked treats like beef brisket or baby back ribs.
Scotch is a whiskey made in Scotland traditionally from malted barley, but increasingly from wheat and rye also. The flavours of this whiskey are very diverse, giving room for use with a variety of foods.
A blended scotch like Johnnie Walker Blue Label has a dark, orangey zest that brings out the deep, bittersweet flavours of dark chocolate – making it perfect for balancing out the sweetness is any chocolate-based dessert.
Meanwhile, a more delicate and floral single malt such as Auchentoshan Classic enhances the herbal notes in savoury sauces such as creamy tarragon sauce or beef bourguignon. Be aware though that some single malt Scotch is extremely expensive, so it might be best to save it for a “wee dram” rather than adding it to your cooking!
Irish whiskey – named (you guessed it) because it’s made in Ireland – is smoother and more subtle in flavour than other types, as it’s usually distilled three times, making it incredibly pure.
Possibly the most famous Irish whiskey is Jameson – light, floral and triple distilled, it has nutty and vanilla notes with hints of sweet sherry and exceptional smoothness. This makes it an excellent addition to more delicate fruit desserts such as summer berry trifle.
It also mixes deliciously with cream. We’re all familiar with Bailey’s, the traditional Irish cream drink – well, why not have a go at making your own from scratch?