Warm Up with Wisconsin Cheese & Single Malt Scotch Whisky
by Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresario
Colder weather inspires me to warm up with a nice dram of Single Malt Scotch Whisky paired with a selection of Wisconsin cheeses. Trust me, this pairing is one of those “knock your head back” culinary thrills you’ll want to share with your friends and family. After reading this piece, you’ll be able to throw your own Wisconsin Artisanal Cheese & Single Malt Scotch Pairing Adventure Party.
Wisconsin makes such a wide variety of award-winning cheeses you can enjoy with the single malts and each whisky distillery produces its own unique flavors. The taste experiences range from the robust smokiness of Islay to the floral and fruity expressions from Speyside. Scotland is the home of these luscious libations that deliver an abundance of complexity and Wisconsin is the home of an abundance of talented cheesemakers who make so many award-winning, delicious cheeses–a perfect pairing!
When you’re planning your Wisconsin Artisanal Cheese & Single Malt Scotch Whisky Pairing Adventure Party, each guest should be served one ounce of each type of cheese. I usually stick with three to five different cheeses. Serve with limited accessories–a sliced French baguette, some unsalted nuts and a dried fig or two on each person’s plate. Keeping your taste buds focused on the cheese and whisky will help you get the most out of this pairing.
Plate the cheeses so each person has their individual selection and keep the cheeses in the same order for each guest so all will be tasting the same cheese at the same time. I place the first cheese at noon as if I were looking at a clock. Ideally, each person should have three glasses in front of them and pre-pour an ounce of each whisky–it makes the room smell fantastic.
Take your cheeses out of the fridge for an hour and cut them right before you plate them. Their aromas will meld with the Scotch aromas so when your guests arrive they’ll know they’re in for a treat. (Take any scented candles out of the room and don’t wear any perfume or cologne.) Use your nose to smell both the cheese and the Scotch, so much of taste is smell and you’ll want to get the full experience with no interference.
Look at the bottle. Bottles can provide some good information and they’re interesting to look at. Notice whisky is spelled with no ‘e’ as in whiskey. Whisky from Scotland is always whisky.
A dram is really any convivial measurement. It’s now considered to be one or two ounces of whisky per person.
Use your eyes:
What color is it? Is it 18K gold? What’s the texture? Same with the cheese, does it have a rind? Is it hard or creamy in texture?
Use your nose:
Nose the Scotch with your mouth closed. So much of taste is smell. Smell it but not with your snozz all the way in the glass like you’d do with a wine. The high alcohol will cover the nuances of this beautiful liquid. Sniff from about four inches from your glass. What do you smell? Citrus, coconut, honey, spices? Now do the same with your cheese.
Use your nose and your mouth
Sniff the Scotch whisky with your nose and with your mouth open. Notice what you can experience in each method.
Use your mouth to taste:
Take a bite of your cheese and make “The Cheese Highway” on your tongue, this will happen naturally when you’re chewing. Now, take a sip and roll the whisky all around your mouth with the cheese to get as much of the complex flavors as possible.
Now for something entirely different, blooming:
After you’ve enjoyed nosing and sipping your dram of Scotch, bloom it. Take a little room temperature spring water. Add about 9 drops of this unchlorinated spring water to your dram. Nose it again. More flavors should open up. Now sip it with a bite of the cheese and more complexity should be delivered. This is fun to do with your guests, as it’s always surprising.
Pairing Wisconsin Artisanal Cheeses with Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Cheesemaker: Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Larry Steckbauer
Paired with: Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or Highlands
The sweetness and nuttiness of this Parmesan sings with the complex flavors in this unique expression of Scotch, and the sweetness of this liquid will thrill you. It’s partially derived from two years of finishing the whisky in casks that once held Sauternes, the famous dessert wine from France.
Cheesemaker: Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook
Paired with: Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old Speyside
Look for fruitiness in the cheese and the Scotch. Pear flavors could come forward. The woody flavor of the Scotch brings out the sweetness and meatiness in this cheese.
Cheesemakers: Julie and Tony Hook
Paired with: Glenfiddich 15-Year-Old Speyside
With this pairing you will taste honey notes from the scotch and get the sweet/savory flavors when the blue cheese and whisky mingle in your mouth–honey drizzled over Blue cheese is heavenly. There’s spiciness from the whisky that works so beautifully with this double-cream blue-veined cheese.
Extras About Single Malt Scotch Whisky
A Simple Liquid with Thrilling Complex Flavors
Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Scotland is beyond complex along with bringing you a giant variety of flavors. But, it’s made of just three ingredients; water, yeast and barley. The barley is germinated (“malted”) over several days. The ”single” of Single Malt Scotch Whisky is because the liquid in your bottle is from a single distillery as compared with blended Scotches that contain many different distilleries’ whisky.
To Ice or Not to Ice
Personal choice is important. If you love Scotch whisky neat (no ice), go for it. If you like ice, add a cube or two. Neat is still the classic method of imbibing. My Scotch glass of choice is the Riedel Single Malt Scotch Glass with a kind of tulip shape they call the elongated thistle shape. Some people prefer to sip their dram of Scotch in a snifter or a small rocks glass.
There’s a great book I’d like to recommend. Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch. It’s a bit out of date but is so informative, it’s a treasure in my library.
I hope now you’ll serve Wisconsin Cheese paired with single malt Scotch whisky to your friends and family.
If you’re eager to learn more cheese and beverage pairings, check out my new online web series, CHEESE RULES with Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresario, on Small Screen Network.
Also, don’t forget about the Wisconsin Cheese Cupid – your go-to pairing guide for your favorite libations and Wisconsin Cheese.