Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin
If you’ve ever been to a bourbon whiskey tasting event, you likely would’ve noticed the presence of snacks here and there. Snacks are a great way to combat the high proof most bourbons have and even enhance or add a new layer of flavors to these drinks.
Undecided what to serve? Here’s an awesome list of the best snacks for bourbon tasting you could try.
Top 15 Snacks To Serve For a Bourbon Tasting
Water isn’t necessarily a snack, but it’s highly important that you have it available at your next bourbon tasting event.
Water is a great way to soften the harsh edges of strong whiskey, so you have an easier time drinking them.
A few drops of water can open up the flavors and aromas of the spirit more, so you can better taste its nuances.
Crackers are the most popular palate cleansers and a must-have for every tasting event. You want something that has a neutral profile so it doesn’t overpower the whiskey. Ritz, saltines, and oyster crackers are all excellent choices.
We’re sure you can relate to the notion that all whiskeys start tasting the same if you drink them back to back.
Something crunchy like this palate cleanser with just the right amount of saltiness will help wash away the remnants of the previous whiskey and reset your taste buds for the next tasting.
13. Unsalted Corn Chips
You can also serve unsalted corn chips to cleanse the palate so you can enjoy the nuances of each dram better.
In our opinion, corn chips are just slightly sweeter than plain crackers, but the difference in taste is hardly detectable.
12. Dried Fruit
Pairing bourbon with dried fruit does the opposite job as the palate cleansers listed above — instead of resetting your plate, it further enhances its flavor.
The fruit flavors in this snack can help locate the fruity notes within the whiskey. Next time, try a fruit-forward bourbon or rye whiskey alongside dried fruit, and watch the dram transform into a fruit bomb!
Here are our favorite dried fruit options:
11. Kettle-Style Potato Chips
We don’t advise using regular potato chips, but we have to make an exception for kettle-style potato chips. This snack is less oily and salty and has a better overall texture than the original.
It will also give you that much-needed crunch, which will beautifully contrast against the smooth, rich spirit .
Meat is a tried and tested food when it comes to bourbon drinking. Think umami, smoke, and salt when picking out meat slices.
Thin slices of country ham, pepperoni, salami, and even smoked salmon are all great choices for meats to pair with the liquor.
Cold cuts aren’t the only way to go — you can serve the spirit alongside a juicy grilled steak. The smokiness of the beef will bring out the strong, bold flavors of the whiskey.
Wine might be the first thing that comes to mind regarding this pairing, but trust us when we say bourbon pairs just as well with this food.
Cheese adds a whole ‘nother level of umami and will allow the bourbon’s fruity goodness to shine more.
Follow this simple rule when picking out cheeses: lighter, sweeter whiskey will benefit from mild, creamy cheese. Meanwhile, those with a bold, smoky flavor will fare better with sharp, aged cheese.
Our favorite cheeses for bourbon pairing include semi-hard cheeses like manchego and Emmental, soft, creamy cheeses like brie and goat cheese, aged parmesan, aged gouda, and smoked gouda.
Pairing a handful of nuts with high-proof whiskey will smoothen incredibly tannic whiskey. Like the crackers, you want to choose only lightly salted nuts.
Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and Brazil nuts have great neutral flavors that play beautifully with a glass of whiskey.
6. Oysters Rockefeller
A gorgeous plate of oysters Rockefeller is a great complement to a glass of creamy, smoky whiskey. Make sure to choose only fresh seafood, so you don’t end up with a plate that no one wants to eat.
Most people are content with some butter and a squeeze of lemon, but we find that adding bacon crumbs further elevates this dish .
This technically counts as meat, but bratwurst and kielbasa sausages are such a great pairing to whiskey that they deserve a category on their own.
These aren’t too spicy and have a great fat-to-meat ratio that will match the heft of the whiskey.
4. Candied Pecans
Pairing candied pecans with a classic Kentucky bourbon will give you a beautiful sweet-on-sweet profile (which the American South loves!).
3. Chocolates And Sweets
Chocolates will complement bourbon just as well as they do wine.
White chocolate, milk chocolate (also great for a rye whiskey), and dark chocolate bring out different notes and finishes in bourbon. Truffles are also a great option.
The creaminess of the chocolate will allow the bourbon’s spicy flavor to sing.
It would be wise to serve a hearty meal to your guests before they leave the whiskey tasting because drinking responsibly should always be your top priority.
Pizza is an instant crowd favorite, so make sure you get it in a flavor everybody likes.
1. Bucket Of Chicken
You can’t go wrong with a bucket of chicken as food after the whiskey tasting. Southern fried chicken is our personal favorite.
What dessert pairs well when bourbon tasting?
We find that chocolates and cakes pair well when bourbon tasting. Bourbon has a layered flavor profile that goes extremely well with cheesecake, dark chocolate cake, or apple pie.
What should you “not” eat when bourbon tasting?
Foods that are too salty, flavorful, and fat should be avoided during bourbon tasting. These flavors will overpower the bourbon and ruin the palate.
Choosing food with more delicate and neutral flavors is important, so the bourbon’s flavors shine through.
Finding the right food for bourbon tasting is easy if you know what to look for. Generally, you want to choose food that has a neutral and subtle flavor profile so it doesn’t outshine the bourbon. A cracker, saltine, or unsalted corn chip is a great palate cleanser.
Dried fruits and chocolates are also excellent food pairings to different bourbons, as their natural flavors will enhance the sweet notes found within the spirit.
It’s a great idea to treat your guests to foods that are more substantial after the tasting to wash away the American whiskey. You can’t go wrong with a bucket of fried chicken. Pizza is also a good option.