Irish whiskey & food pairings

February 14, 2022  

Ireland is the home of whiskey; and Ireland is famous for its food. From farm to fork and from grain to glass, did you know Irish whiskey and food go perfectly together?

The depth of diversity of Irish whiskey pairs perfectly with the finest and freshest food on the island.

From Irish cheeses to seafood – oyster – and grilled prawns- from cured meat to barbequed meats to even chocolate, add an Irish whiskey and get ready for an explosion of the senses – as whiskey and food marry together to bring out the most exquisite and intense flavours of Ireland. In in the pub or restaurant – or in the comfort of your home – discover the magic of Irish whiskey and food.

Jp McMahon, a renowned Irish chef has provided the following guide on Irish whiskey and food pairings.

Experimentation and an open mind are key when developing your whiskey and food pairing. It does not need to be complex and some of the best Irish food, from bread to cheese and charcuterie, need very little preparation. It is as easy as slicing several cheese and meats and pairing them with a few whiskeys. Of course, more complex pairings also work but simplicity is key. As your palate gets tired quickly, try not to pair too many different flavours together at once.

1. Bread and butter

Simplicity is key here. Good soda bread (or sourdough) and farmhouse butter is all you need to set up a simple food pairing that will delight. Because of the density of the bread, and natural oiliness of the butter you need a whiskey which has sufficient texture to stand up to the bread, but also robust flavour delivery on the palate. When tasting whiskey and different breads, butter the bread and cut up into little squares. Lighter breads (such as white country loaf or batch bread) will pair better with single malts. More robust breads (such as wholemeal soda bread) work better more mature whiskeys.

Highlighted pairings

  • Lighter white soda bread will pair well with single malts or pot stills.
  • Try adding seeds to the soda bread (if baking in house) to complement the nutty nature of mature, sherry-finished Irish whiskeys.
  • Peated whiskeys work well with wholegrain breads, such as rye and wholemeal.
  • Due to the aged quality of whiskey, it is best to serve the whiskey with wholegrain bread as opposed to white bread due to the hearty quality of the whiskey.