How to Pair Whisky and Charcuterie
I’m sure most of us have attended a whisky tasting where a charcuterie board has been presented as it seems to be the ‘go-to' pairing with flights of delicious whisky. These are typically made of a selection of cured meats, cheese and fruits of sorts. After our successful venture into cheese last month with Cheese Sex Death author Erika Kubick, I wanted to dive a little deeper into charcuterie and learn how to best pair up three Society casks with a variety of cured meats.
I was lucky to have Charcutier, Kevin Ouzts of The Spotted Trotter Charcuterie in Atlanta, Georgia join me earlier this week for a pairing that really set my palate ablaze! Did you know that salami is made from the muscle of a pig that runs from its head to its ribs? Or that fermentation and mold (the good kind!) are involved in making it? Or that it takes just the right amount of moisture, time and care to craft such a meat as Finnochiona or Spanish Salchichon? This art of curing meats started as a means of survival thousands of years ago, not letting any part of the animal go to waste. Now, people like Kevin are keeping this art alive with responsible animal husbandry, focusing on local ingredients and crafting cured meats with integrity, that in my humble opinion are an absolute treat to all senses!
Here’s what we tasted:
Meat pairing: Blue Cheese Salami
When I first heard we would be tasting a blue cheese salami with a juicy, floral forward, orchard fruit dense Speyside dram, I was perplexed. In my experience with cheese tastings, blue cheese is typically held out for peated whisky, as they compliment each other beautifully. Well, I had a foot in mouth moment, as this pairing was absolutely dreamy! We poured a bit of Cask No. 1.249 ‘Whisky Afternoon’ and let its viscous biscuit texture coat the palate with sweet notes of floral honey. Then we tasted the Georgia Blue Salami, which is made by folding in Asher Blue Cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy into the mix. The fatty, yet silken texture of the salami literally melted in your mouth, and a whisper of delicate blue cheese complimented the sweetness of the whisky, giving you both sweet and salty elements that make you go back for more!
Meat Pairing: Spanish Salchichon
I honestly find this flavour profile to be the wild card of the bunch when it comes to pairings. Often, these drams carry such deep, rich and intense profiles, that it can be a bit of a well accepted challenge to find a perfect match to complement them. Luckily, I am now 2 for 2 on insaisissable pairings with this flavour profile! After getting our noses into Cask No. 89.16 ‘Yummy stuff!’ there were big notes of figgy jam, and deep goey sultana glaze, and tobacco. Pairing this with the Spanish Salchichon was just decadent! Made with Spanish sherry and pimenton, this chorizo-esque salami just married those rich notes of the whisky in such harmonious ways! The tang and spice of the salami was the perfect match for this sweet ooey-gooey delight of a dram!
Meat Pairing: Finocchiona Salami
Ah, the peated pairing, the one I most anticipate! At this point in the pairings, I was on cloud nine, made of meat and whisky, and couldn't imagine where this last pairing would take me. Let's talk about Cask No. 53.370 ‘An indulgent seaside feast’. This is one heck of a dram! Smoked meats at the beach, sandy waves of black pepper and grit, make this just a robust flavour experience. Then, you add in this incredible Finochionna Salami, made with fennel (what it is named after) and garlic, chili and spices! Tasting them together is like eating a big hot slice of pizza on the beach in Islay! It is salty, meaty, chewy, warm, and just a power pairing if I’ve ever tasted one!
Going into this pairing, I wasn't too sure what to expect as my exposure to charcuterie, and cured meats has not been this deep or intentional. Learning about this means of survival turned into a craft has been such a joy, and I hope you too get to experience it, as it will change the way you not only look at the next charcuterie board at a whisky tasting, but everything you eat and drink! If you missed the live tasting, you can watch the replay here.
Kevin has been kind enough to extend the 25% discount to you until the end of the month, on any orders placed with the code “GOODMEAT”. If you are local to the Atlanta area, please do pay him a visit, and if you are not, luckily he can ship to all 50 states!
Until the next pairing adventure,