Food Pairings for Islay Whisky
Come Dram With Me!
Cooking with Islay Scotch is probably not something you would hear on Come Dine With Me, but with Islay being a mecca for Whisky lovers, it seems fun to think of how it can be incorporated into our favourite dishes.
As we all know, Scotch whisky is traditionally a tipple for late night business meetings or for the 19th hole of the golf course. As we are evolving into more modern times, food and drink is getting ever more versatile. Whisky is now finding itself regularly appearing on cocktail menus, so it seems natural to see it courting with culinary etiquette.
Sherry has always been synonymous with trifle, brandy with fruit cakes and wine has held pole position for being an accompaniment to the finest meat and fish. But the pure spirit of the Scots is now looking to knock the fruity connoisseurs of Europe and the Americas from their gastronomic thrones.
Islay whisky has an intense, earthy taste and aroma due to the drying of malted barley through the smoking peat process. This makes Islay Scotch quite unique in taste and profile making it popular for hardcore fans, So, while in Islay, get inspired by the ways you can add a peaty kick to your favourite starter, main or dessert!
Cooking with Islay Scotch for Starters
We have it on good authority that Lagavulin or Laphroaig can be poured over an oyster in its shell to kick start the metabolism and taste buds into action.
Roy Herd commented that a Port Charlotte 10 YO is a must for cooking Caster Kippers, a hearty suggestion well worth a try.
Islay Whisky and Meat Dishes
Given the overpowering flavours of peat whiskies, top chefs recommend that they are best used as a marinade for the stronger meats such as venison, grouse, pheasant, brisket beef and lamb, particularly Laphroaig, with meat being cooked slowly
Seafood and Fish
Laphroaig with its fruity and slightly sweet tones, is also very complimentary to fish dishes. A seasoning for curing salmon, especially with a honey and lemon reduction, or similarly with butter, garlic, chives and lemon. The 10 YO is regularly cited as a delightful pairing with seafood and grilled fish. Meanwhile, Bruichladdich has been recommended by several chefs for Teriyaki Salmon.
Islay Scotch for Desserts
Lagavulin surprisingly duets with caramel chocolate desserts and is apparently divine with a bar of 70% dark chocolate or more randomly, maltesters! Must be the malt connection.
Lagavulin is also synonymous with Bleu cheese for those with a more savoury bent for after dinner, or why not try Ardbeg alongside apple crumble or tiramisu.
Laphroaig that featured so strongly in recommendations for main courses, doesn’t want to be shunned for the headline feature and lends itself beautifully to malt whisky cakes, dark chocolate (1/4 cask) and peppermint, so one for the coffee round as well.
So, whilst on Islay, experiment with your ingredients, marinade, mix, slow roast and coat away. For specific recipes, check out the book by Martine Nouet ; A Table, Whisky from Glass To Plate and get practising to impress your guests at dinner parties. Check out our blog that has details of how you can get a qualification in how whisky is made.
Please feel free to send us your pictures and stories of whisky cuisine. Check out the blog for details of virtual whisky tasting that have been taking place during Lockdown.
Andrew & Caroline