What Food Goes Well With Whiskey? (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Most experts will advise you to drink whiskey straight. It is the most suitable way to enjoy whiskeys with a touch of sweetness or those with earthy and smoky notes. However, there are also foods that you can take with whiskey that will complement its flavors. 

So, what food goes with whiskey? Read on to find out our team’s top favorite food and whiskey pairings. 

Top 10 Foods Perfect To Pair With Whiskey

10. Sweets

Sweets (Pumpkin Pie)

There are several ways to combine whiskey and desserts for food pairing. The natural caramel flavor of a high-rye bourbon is a good combination for a pumpkin pie.

It is a creamy, sweet, and spiced dessert, containing lower calories than any other pie.

Cheesecakes have toffee, vanilla, and butterscotch hints that complement a wheated bourbon.

Irish whiskey combines well with bread and butter pudding. You can also use whiskey to make the pudding.

9. Sushi


Sushi combines the flavors of seaweed, soy sauce, vinegary rice, ginger, and wasabi, making it the best food to complement a complicated drink like whisky.

Japanese whisky is the top choice to partner with sushi because it can bring out its background and subtle notes.

But if you can not have a bottle of Japanese whisky, you can also try the Johnnie Walker Blue Label. It has the right touch of sweetness and spiciness to balance with sushi.

8. Haggis


It is a customary practice to serve haggis with a dram of whisky. Haggis is a versatile ingredient that commonly comes with tatties and neeps (mashed potato and turnip) [1].

This quintessential Scottish dish has gluten-free, organic, and vegan variations.

Try diluting the alcohol intensity of Scotch with a few drops of water before pairing it with hearty dishes like haggis.

Full-bodied whiskies and haggis help you enjoy the combined flavors of meat, herbs, and alcohol.

Read: Our Top Liquors For Hot Chocolate

7. Meatloaf


Meatloaf is a good option to pair with a party whisky because it contains a rich flavor profile along with other fatty dishes.

The fat in these foods protects the palate and softens the heat and spiciness when drinking high-proof liquors like rye whisky and single malt.

It is the best food to pair with something spicy, rye, or peaty alcoholic beverages.

Serving healthy meatloaves with barbecue sauce combines well with smoky whiskey, but you can try any flavor to match your preference.

6. Apple Crumble or Apple Pie

Apple Crumble Pie

Apple pies are a sweet and comforting dessert to have with rye whiskies.

But the caramelized sweetness of bourbon and light licorice note of Tennessee whiskey brings out the rich cinnamon, vanilla, spice, and caramel filling of apple pie.

However, if the flavors are too much for your palate, you can have the apple crumble instead. 

Since this dessert is slightly hard to make, you can also try an alternative dessert like pecan pie, although it has more calories. 

But what liquors taste like black licorice?

5. Dried Fruits & Nuts

Dried Fruits & Nuts

The lowered amount of water in dried fruits results in more complexity than in fresh fruits.

Dried figs and dates match most American whiskeys’ licorice, cinnamon, and spiced caramel flavors. Some dried fruits impart bright candied orange or pineapple tones and a strong floral aroma to whiskeys. 

On the other hand, strong whiskies work well with sweeter nuts, while sweeter whiskies are good with bitter nuts.

Whiskies with strong smoky flavors are better with heavily roasted nuts.

4. Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon

You must find the perfect balance when partnering salmon with high-proof liquor.

Smoked salmon has a creamy, delicate, smoky flavor, similar to strong whisky products. It makes the combination of smoked fish and whiskies with strong peat flavors become an unenjoyable experience. 

The delicate tasting notes of single malt Scotch are a good choice for smoked salmon.

Light whiskies work wonders with lighter smokes, while strong whiskies need a more flavorful fish.

3. Cheese


Pairing whisky and cheese works well because the fat in the cheese can cover up your palate from the heat while you’re drinking whisky [2].

Whisky and cheese is a classic pairing that offers different flavorful combinations. 

We suggest that you pair goat cheese with light fragrant whiskies, while a hard blue cheese goes well with full-bodied malt whisky.

In addition, the lasting flavors of creamy cheeses and semi-hard cheeses can bring out the subtle tastes of medium-bodied whiskies.

2. Grilled Steaks

Grilled Steaks

An outdoor dinner party with grilled steaks and whisky bottles seemed the perfect way to spend the weekend.

You can prepare medium-bodied rich whiskies because their rich caramel notes work well with a leaner steak [3].

However, strong peaty whiskies are more popular to pair with the red meat’s flavorful cuts. These whiskies have earthy and smoky notes, mirroring the smokiness of grilled beef.

But you can still experiment with your steak’s flavors and fat contents to match your palate.

1. Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Instead of milk chocolates, try pairing whisky with plain dark chocolates. It further enhances the bitter dark chocolate notes of strong whiskies.

The dark orange-flavored chocolate is also a good choice because the orange flavor complements the citrus notes of a Scotch whisky. 

But if you prefer sweet sugary chocolate instead of dark bars, we suggest that you try pairing it with a bourbon or rye whiskey.

Salted hazelnut chocolates also add a sweet, nutty taste to Single Malt Scotch.

What Food Should You Avoid Pairing With Whiskey?

You should avoid foods with strong garlic flavors or spicy meals because they can overwhelm the delicate tasting notes of whiskeys.

Citrus fruits have an acidic nature that can cause digestive problems while drinking a high-proof spirit like whiskey.

Peaty whiskies are good with roast chicken, dark chocolate, sweet nuts, Oysters Rockefeller, blue cheese, or aged cheddar.

Medium-bodied expressions work well with root vegetables, while light fragrant whiskies are good with goat cheese and smoked salmon. 


Can you drink whiskey with food?

Yes, you can drink whiskey with food. In recent years, many people worldwide started to pair food with whiskies, an innovative move to enjoy their favorite drink in a new light.

When should you drink whiskey, before or after a meal?

After having a meal is the best time to drink whiskey. It takes longer to get drunk when you have food in your stomach.

In Summary

The best food pairings with whiskies should be able to complement the spirit and not overpower its delicate and complex flavor profile. Various elements are involved in the making process of whisky, starting from its place of origin to the type of barrel and mash bill used. Different countries also have their practices of pairing whiskies and food.

The general rule of thumb with whisky pairings is to find the right flavors that will let you enjoy your whisky drinking experience.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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