Pairing The Perfect Food With An Islay Single Malt
Pairing food with whisky can be a tricky affair since it has the potential to either completely disrupt the entire experience, or make it truly sublime. To evoke the harmony between different flavours and aromas is not an easy task, and especially so if you happen to love Islay whiskies.
Islay whiskies have always had a divisive loyalty among Scotch whisky lovers. Some people would love nothing except the peaty Islay single malts, whereas some only love single malts from the Highlands and Speyside.
There are some terrific food and whisky combinations that are simply waiting to be enjoyed. If you love the strong Islay single malts and their strong medicinal character, you will be delighted to know the delicious foods you can pair them with.
We shall be taking five of our favourite Islay single malt expressions from distilleries such as Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Lagavulin and even the unpeated Bruichladdich. Selecting our top picks of single malt bottlings from these distilleries, we shall also be suggesting some great food pairings you can enjoy while sampling these whiskies. Let’s begin.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask & Smoked Salmon
The Quarter Cask is a special Laphroaig bottling, matured in smaller than usual casks, which accelerates the entire aging process. The smaller size of the cask facilitates greater interaction of the spirit with the oak, thereby also increasing the influence of the wood on the whisky.
The great balance between the medicinal, peaty character and the oak make the Laphroaig Quarter Cask a great pairing with smoked salmon. This scrumptious delicacy is considered to be a favourite in many regions of the world. Smoked salmon works wonderfully with the strong, peaty single malts like the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. You might even switch it up, and go for the Laphroaig 10 Year Old, which is another excellent expression.
Ardbeg Corryvreckan & Le Pico Cheese
Corryvreckan is one of Ardbeg’s most lauded expressions, especially by long-time Ardbeg fanatics. Bottled at a whopping 57.1% ABV, this cask-strength Islay single malt is something not every whisky drinker can handle. This is one of Ardbeg’s richest releases, and many consider it a compilation of their best qualities.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and many would argue it was actually for the best. Pairing this phenomenal peated monster with the dense, moldy Pico cheese is a terrific idea. The Corryvreckan’s deep and intense character melts well with the creamy, tangy delight that is Le Pico cheese. Le Pico cheese is a French product, created from pasteurized goat milk. Although the cheese is sold quite young, its flavours develop stronger over time. It is an extraordinary food to pair with the Ardbeg Corryvreckan.
Pairing The Perfect Food With An Islay Single Malt Whisky
Oysters are a fantastic pairing with the deeply rich and Sherried Bowmore 15 Year Old. The combination of Sherry and smoke is an interesting array of flavours and aromas that Bowmore lovers have appreciated in the past.
When it comes to food pairings, the Bowmore and oyster pairing has the endorsement of Gordon Dundas, Global Brand Ambassador at Beam Suntory. They are the parent company that now own the Bowmore Distillery, one of Islay’s finest gems. Oysters and Bowmore’s 15 Year Old are two terrific companions as the fishy, briny flavours go well with the sweet, spicy and smoky Bowmore single malt. A strong recommendation to try the Bowmore 15 Year Old with oysters.
Lagavulin 16 Year Old & Venison Steak
venison steak is a full meal, and so is the Lagavulin 16 Year Old if you have tried it before. Venison is a favoured delicacy in colder regions, which surprisingly is also one of the regions where Islay Scotch whiskies are extraordinarily popular.
The Lagavulin 16 Year Old is a delightful Islay single malt with tantalizing tropical fruit intermingled with brine and smoke. Pairing an Islay single malt like Lagavulin 16 with venison steak, bringing their flavours and aromas truly elevates the entire experience.
Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie & Seared Scallops
When one thinks of Islay single malts, the Bruichladdich is not the type of whisky that comes to mind. Although it is one of their best single malts, the Bruichladdich has stayed away from the defining characteristic that has become a part of the Islay identity – peat. With a clear lack of heavily peated flavours or aromas, the Classic Laddie is very different.
Pairing Bruichladdich’s Classic Laddie is a tricky endeavour since it does not fit the typical Islay whisky spectrum. It is light, fruity and with a slight whisper of smoke and salty sea air, it works marvellously with hard cheeses, dark nutty chocolates and if you prefer, seared scallops. Scallops are generally a preferred pairing with Speyside single malts like The Glenlivet, but they pair beautifully with this Bruichladdich release too.
These are our favourite recommendations of food pairings with The Whiskypedia’s top Islay single malt Scotch whiskies. Don’t be afraid to mix things up every once in a while, and find out what works best for you because there is nothing more personal than enjoying a glass of whisky.