Ahh, Easter. Who doesn’t love Cream Egg season? At this time of year, there’s always a lot of chocolate around. It has us at The Dram Team thinking about why chocolate and whisky pair so well together. So, today we’re going to talk about pairing whisky and chocolate.
One of the things that’s fascinating about whisky is that so many flavours come from so few ingredients. Chocolate is the same. That’s what makes both whisky and chocolate great. The possibilities from the simple ingredients are endless.
Lucky for us, the rich and round tastes of chocolate perfectly complements the robust and dignified flavours of whisky.
And an Islay whisky and salty chocolate? Yes please!
The secret is in the timing. We recommend to start by taking a small sip of whisky and coat your mouth. Acclimatising your palate to the whisky is crucial if you’re drinking more potent stuff. If you like more intense flavour, consider using cask strength whisky – we think it’s the best for pairing. So, getting your palate ready is an important step. A few drops of water can help too!
Once your palate is less sensitive to the alcohol, take a few sips and think about what you’re tasting. Now is the exciting part. Take another sip and put a piece of chocolate in your mouth. Let it melt. Move it around and let the chocolate and lingering whisky favours combine. The whisky and the chocolate will balance each other and produce exciting flavour combinations. Now, with the chocolate still melting, take another sip of whisky. You’ll immediately notice the new flavour profile. It’s magic—the whisky and chocolate mix and complement. You can try loads of combinations, and you’ll find notes and nuances to the whisky you never noticed before.
We’re all firm believers that there are no terrible whiskies. There are just some that appeal to you more than others. The same is true for chocolate. Milk chocolate bars are great, but it is harder to find a whisky to pair with it. That’s because milk chocolate usually has a lower percentage of cocoa beans. If you want to use milk chocolate, find a high-quality one. One with additional flavours, like chilli or orange, is a fantastic choice. Salted caramel also goes amazingly well with single malt.
Dark chocolate is a perfect partner for whisky. Dark chocolate offsets the whisky’s sweetness and alcohol with a rich and lingering flavour. There is a higher percentage of cocoa beans in dark chocolate, so you can use less expensive chocolate and still get a brilliant pairing.
If you’re interested in some dangerously delicious chocolate and whisky pairings, check out Iain Burnett, The Highland Chocolatier.
Renowned for his whisky and chocolate pairings, he works with some brilliant distilleries to match wonderful chocolate flavours to distinctive distillery styles.
Have a wonderful Easter, from all of us at The Dram Team. Let us know if you have any successful (or unsuccessful!) experiences with whisky and chocolate over the holiday.
And, if you need some whisky to go along with your chocolate pairing, we’ve got you covered! Every month we curate out-of-the-ordinary whisky tastings and deliver them right to your door.
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Featured photo by Lindt Excellence.