As stated before, the spirits I used were chosen based on how I drink on a regular basis. These are spirits that I would see in a bar or liquor store and buy in a drink or for my own liquor cabinet. We all have different tastes when it comes to spirits, and while many people prefer the safety of a sweet spirit or cocktail, I like to experiment with different types of flavors. Salty, fiery, smoky, bitter--these are the profiles that get me excited to taste a variety of liquors and learn the ins and outs of each one. Cheers, and let’s get to it!
Buffalo Trace-White Dog Mash #1
Buffalo Trace has an excellent line of whiskies. I chose to go with the White Dog because I am starting to realize just how beneficial a good white dog is to a spirits collection. It has a fantastic flavor and is incredibly fiery, but is full of complexity and character. I think some people get intimidated by a white dog, but this one is not as harsh as others that I have tasted.
Smells like grilled corn, very wheaty. Fresh and crisp, with a dry mouthfeel. Definitely some fire going down but a great aftertaste. Notes of peaches and berries, with some defined acidity.
This cheese was incredibly, for lack of a better word, stinky. However, it had an incredibly briny quality to it that was a nice complement to the fire of the White Dog. It was able to calm the burn and delivered a salty, nutty and slightly smoked finish.
Bulleit is one of my favorite brown spirits on the market today because I find the story behind the brand, as well as the flavor itself, incredibly unique. I had the pleasure of speaking with Tom Bulleit, the namesake behind the brand, and after hearing about its interesting and rich family history, drinking the spirit became that much more enjoyable.
The bourbon definitely has a strong fire on the nose. Notes of chocolate, charred barrels. Very smooth going down, with a hint of plump red grapes on the finish.
Cheese: Rivers Edge Chevre
The smoky flavor of this rich and creamy chevre married really well with the charred flavor of the Bulleit. Notes of salt, dried fruits and dark chocolate were very much enhanced, with the slight sweetness of the cheese being a great partner to the fiery Bulleit.
Maker's Mark Bourbon Whisky
Maker’s Mark is one of my favorite spirits for a few different reasons. First, I really love the variety of flavors I get whenever I take a sip. Second, I had the pleasure of visiting the Maker’s Mark distillery in Kentucky last year and was blown away. I was given a full tour of the distillery, got to walk through the barrel rooms to see barrels upon barrels of Maker’s being aged to perfection, and even got to hand-dip my own bottle into the coveted red wax. Like the Bulleit, some things just taste better when you know the rich and colorful history behind them.
This bourbon is sweet and floral on the nose, but tastes of smoke and char. Wet cereal, corn on the grill. The wheat is a very present flavor as well, giving it a round and rich quality and a creamy mouthfeel. There is some spice as well, a gentle kick of heat in the back of the throat.
This raw milk cheese is slightly spicy and went really well with the smoky and spicy notes of the Maker’s. It’s complex and really rich, and enhanced the flavors of grilled corn and smoked wood.
The Black Grouse-Blended Scotch Whisky
The Black Grouse, a member of The Famous Grouse family, is probably one of the most complex Scotch whiskys I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. I was first introduced to it when they became the sponsors of the Brooklyn Men’s Rugby Team in Brooklyn, NY, and as a member of the Brooklyn Women’s Rugby Club, I was drinking it at virtually every rugby event. The flavor is so unique and delicious that once I started drinking it, I found myself asking for it at every bar I saw it.
Smoky and very charred, stone fruits, incredibly meaty and rich. Bacon and smoked meats, creamy and rich mid-palate. Smooth and smoky going down. The taste and smell of grilled wood is very present.
This creamy cow’s milk cheese is really smoky and salty and was able to really enhance the bacon and meat flavors of the Grouse. The Epoisse was one of the stinkier cheeses of the day, and I found that the burst of flavor in the cheese had very similar qualities to the burst of meat and smoke in the whisky. A perfect match for me.
I hope you enjoyed my full spirits and cheese pairing, and that you will take the time to try some of these amazing pairings yourself. Cheers!