Food to Fork & Grain to Glass
What Goes Well with Whiskey? 7 Irish Whiskey & Food Pairings
Whiskey is a treat to the senses. When we find a great Irish whiskey like Jameson, having a drink is an enjoyable leisurely experience (as it should be). And, while having a glass or two by oneself is an ideal way to relax, most of us tend to drink as part of a larger activity. It can be in a bar with a group of friends, or maybe in a stadium watching a band or team play, and of course, many of us have a drink with a meal.
For many, that drink might be beer or wine, and restaurants often have recommendations of what wine or beer to have with certain foods. However, if you’re a whiskey-with-dinner type of person, you’re not likely to receive such treatment. Which, in our opinion, is a scandalous dereliction of duty on the part of restauranteurs and this blatant discrimination shall not stand! Ahem …but we digress.
Thankfully, Jameson is not the type of brand that leaves a whiskey drinker behind. In this article, we’ll dive into traditional and modern whiskey food pairings, and tasty whiskey food recipes, and look at what not to eat with whiskey. It’s going to be a real feast for the senses!
To begin, a little history lesson. As you may very well know, whiskey has a long tradition in Ireland and this country has been known for centuries as the home to arguably the best whiskey makers in the world (sorry Scotland) all of which you can read about here. However, what you might not know is Ireland’s long-standing tradition of top-quality food production.
Yes, it’s true. Ireland’s fertile land and long coastlines produce some of the best quality food on the planet and have done for centuries! This conflicts with perceptions of Irish cuisine, which doesn’t have the best reputation (we can’t all be Italy, you know). However, when it comes to staples like meat, dairy, seafood, vegetables, and whiskey, we punch well above our weight, making Ireland the ultimate destination for grain-to-glass drinking and food-to-fork experiences.
So, what food pairs well with whiskey? To nobody’s surprise, it’s mostly the produce and cuisine native to Ireland that tends to go well with Irish whiskey. Meats, in particular, beef, cheese, and seafood like oysters and smoked salmon all compliment a glass of whiskey. Other Irish whiskey food pairings which aren’t Irish staples such as nuts, dried fruit and chocolate make for a great whiskey double act. And, of course, if you do your homework and know how to properly taste whiskey, you’ll have an instinctive sense of what pairs well with whiskey as you taste new dishes and foods. Now, let’s dive deeper to find out what food goes well with whiskey.
1. Premium Irish Meats
When we think of a food that goes with whiskey, many of us will instinctively think of meat, especially beef. In film and television, a steak dinner and a glass of whiskey have become a clichéd treat to which larger-than-life characters treat themselves to. Yet… like many famous dishes, it has a reputation for a reason.
Whether it’s beef, chicken, pork, or something a little more interesting, quality meat is your first port of call when you’re looking at what to eat with whiskey. The umami flavours of meat are fantastic with spicy, nutty and dried fruit flavours. The sherry-sweetness unique to Jameson is a delicious compliment to red meat. And when we say quality means, we mean quality. We don’t suggest a glass of Jameson with some chicken nuggets. A pan-seared chicken breast would be better.
However, your meat dish doesn’t have to resemble some a la carte Ritz menu to go with your whiskey. Burgers and sandwiches also make a delicious whiskey-pairing dinner. We don’t recommend drinking whiskey with every meal (obviously), but Irish whiskey food pairing doesn’t start and stop in the glass.
Whiskey can add immense flavour to food via a marinade, sauce, or condiment. In fact, in July 2023, we put this idea to the test when Jameson Black Barrel teamed up with East London restaurant Acme Fire Club to bring patrons a whole month of mouth-watering menu options of meat and veg, smothered, lathered, dipped and soaked in all-manners of whiskey-based jus and coatings.
Overall, we guess you could say that when it comes to food such as steak, Jameson really meats its match!
2. Irish Oysters and Seafood
One of the great Irish whiskey food pairings is whiskey with oysters and other Irish seafood. Being an island, it probably comes as no surprise that Ireland has incredible seafood. Whiskey is delicious with many types of fish. Salty flavours are a great contrast to the sweet notes found in Jameson Whiskeys like vanilla, caramel and toffee. To take that contrast to the max try Irish whiskey and Irish oysters.
Alright, we get it. At first glance oysters look like somebody sneezed into a seashell, but trust us, they are brined cups of delicious flavour. Oysters are very salty and oyster eaters like to cut through that salt with something sharp or strong in flavour for balance. It could be lemon, a vinaigrette, hot sauce or whiskey. A little teaspoon of whiskey on an oyster can do wonders for striking the balance you need when eating oysters, although, sipping some whiskey after every oyster in a chaser-type fashion is the preferred method to use (don’t drink hot sauce, please).
Oysters and alcohol have gone together for a long time, and you might see restaurants in Ireland offering stout and oysters on their menu.
Before the days of battered burgers and taco fries, drinkers used to order oysters from street vendors on their way home from the pub as cheap fast food. The salt helped replenish electrolytes and became a food-must among evening punters, especially in a city like Dublin.
While stout and oysters go well together, so too do whiskey and oysters. Why whiskey never gets the credit, we’ll never know, but you can have the best of both worlds by eating your oysters with a Jameson Casksmates Stout Edition.
3. Irish Soda Bread and Farmhouse Butter
“Whiskey and soda please, and don’t forget the farmhouse butter!”
For something simple when “wondering what pairs well with whiskey?” look no further than bread. Irish soda bread with real butter (none of that easy-spread malarky). Irish soda bread is an absolute delight! The recipe doesn’t call for a can of soda, it’s the addition of bicarbonate soda that gives the bread its name. As soda bread is less sweet than most breads, spread some softened farmhouse butter on top, pour yourself a tipple and be amazed at how well the fruity notes in Jameson whiskeys compliment the subdued savouriness of a slice of Irish soda bread.
Due to our triple distillation process, Jameson is widely known as the smoothest whiskey available. Smooth is one of our signature characteristics, a characteristic we share with another type of food, chocolate!
You better believe it, smooth whiskey and smooth chocolate go hand in hand. What’s interesting is that various types of chocolate apply. From milk chocolate to creamy white chocolate and bitter plain dark chocolate, whiskey and chocolate is an amplified experience.
The secret is how the chocolate enhances the whiskey’s flavour: Vanilla, caramel, toffee, dried fruits, sherry, nuts, and chocolate notes are all magnified when paired with different chocolates. Still sceptical? Try it for yourself at home. We recommend pairing your Jameson with some good quality chocolate, You’ll be surprised by how well they work together.
5. Cheeses of Ireland
Don’t have a cow, man, but Ireland’s dairy is a class of its own. While other countries may be better known for cheese, nobody makes cheese quite as good as we do. We deliver the king of cheeses in the form of cheddar, with Cashel Blue, Coolea, Gubbeen, and Durrus making up many different types of cheese.
Why whiskey and cheese? Similar to meat, many cheeses are known for their umami flavour. The sweet, nutty and smokey notes from Jameson Whiskeys all play wonderfully with most cheese-savoury characteristics. Another benefit to cheese is as a foil to the robustness of whiskey. Strong cheeses and strong whiskey make for a fight worth tasting. Speaking of fights…
6. Charcuterie Boards
The French will not be too happy with this, then again, are they ever? Let’s talk charcuterie boards. Traditional French charcuterie is just cured meats, but the modern take on charcuterie is a mixture of meats, cheese, bread, spreads, fruits and nuts (we’re just the messenger, France).
Notice something? Yes, charcuterie boards are already loaded with half of our food recommendations and in the other half are flavours you find in whiskey. What a bonus! The cured meats stand out as many have a great depth of flavour, making charcuterie the perfect whiskey-tasting food pairing. So, build a board, pour the Jameson, and invite your friends for a great night in.
You can start the evening’s conversation by asking everyone to say “charcuterie” fast 5 times and watch your dinner party break into contagious laughter!
If you were to create your own whiskey-pairing dinner, what would you have for dessert? Many desserts often use whiskey as an ingredient. Whiskey cream, whiskey drizzle, whiskey incorporated into the desert and baked are all fabulous ways to introduce a complex character to a desert.
However, some of us aren’t the greatest chefs, and some of the greatest chefs don’t care for whiskey (we personally avoid their establishments). So, what desserts are delicious with a glass of whiskey? Cheesecake, of course! Whether plain or flavoured, cheesecake has a creamy richness that aligns wonderfully with the smooth and gentle sweetness of an Irish whiskey like Jameson.
Don’t dig cheesecakes’ creamy top but adore its buttery biscuit base? You’re in luck! Shortbread and butter cookies make the perfect joint aperitif with a glass of liquid gold. Jameson’s butterscotch and vanilla notes go hand-in-hand with shortbread, for a sweet but light end to your meal.
Another Course on Whiskey and Food
What food goes with Jameson?
To recap: Meat, cured meat, seafood, oysters, cheese, chocolate, soda bread, nuts, cheesecake and shortbread; plus countless other combinations, where whiskey is an ingredient in the dish, as a part of a sauce, condiment, base, poured on top! And, that’s just foods we had time to discuss, you can find lots more ways to use and enjoy whiskey here.
What food to prepare for a whiskey tasting?
As we mentioned above, charcuterie boards are a great compliment to any whiskey-tasting to compliment flavours. With cured meats and cheeses, fruit, nuts, breads and spreads, no matter what type of Jameson you have to hand, there’s a food on the charcuterie board that pairs well.
And for dessert, try pairing whiskey with chocolates. Find a quality selection to taste and sip to your heart’s content!
Whiskey Sour food pairing
A fan favourite for whiskey cocktails, a whiskey sour with its sweet citrusy kick is a versatile choice for food pairings. Dishes and foods that are spicy or tangy love a whiskey sour, and of course, anything salty will be balanced perfectly by the flavours of a whiskey sour. Next time you order the Buffalo Wings and fries, make sure you order a whiskey sour to go with it for a culinary feast that will knock your socks off!
What not to eat with whiskey?
Yes, yes. We were going to get here eventually. There are foods we do not recommend enjoying with a glass of Jameson. Anything extremely spicy that will overwhelm your pallet. A whiskey sour with some spicy sizzling Szechuan Beef? Have at it. However, straight whiskey is too robust and will only intensify the heat of very spicy food. A glass of whiskey with Vindaloo is a no-can-do!
It’s the culinary equivalent of putting water on a grease fire. Not good. If you want whiskey with dinner, look for a milder meal, with elements of what we discussed above to pair with your drink.
Finally, sugary treats. Yes, we know shortbread, chocolate and cheesecake have sugar, but there are other flavours which balance them out to make them sweet, and enjoyable with a glass of Jameson. Very sugary foods should be avoided. It will overpower the subtle flavours that whiskey is known for and leave you sipping on a glass of harsh-tasting spirit. We recommend you say pav-NO-va to the pavlova while enjoying a glass of Jameson.
Ready to celebrate the rich flavours of Ireland? Raise your glass to the smooth and balanced taste of Ireland’s’s finest, starting with Jameson Irish Whiskey!