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The ‘grain-to-glass meets farm-to-fork’ guide sees Irish whiskey matched with the best of Irish breads, cheeses, charcuterie, seafood, meats and even chocolate for a flavour explosion


Oysters, crab, beef tartare, blue cheese and dark chocolate mousse are among the Irish whiskey food pairings devised by Ireland’s leading local food advocate, chef and food writer JP McMahon for a special guide produced by the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) to mark St Patrick’s Day.

In the guide, JP McMahon outlines multiple ways that Irish whiskeys, due to their depth and diversity, can go together with food, including bread and butter, Irish farmhouse cheeses, charcuterie, fish and shellfish, beef, lamb and poultry, along with chocolate and other desserts.

Commenting on his approach to creating the Irish whiskey and food pairings for the guide, JP McMahon said: “Whiskey and food pairings don’t need to be complex — experimentation and simplicity are key, as are the finest and freshest ingredients. It’s as easy as slicing several cheeses and meats and pairing them with a few whiskeys. Of course, more complex pairings also work, but simplicity is key. Try not to pair too many different flavours together at once, though, as your palate gets tired quickly.”



Highlighted pairings include:

  • Lighter white soda bread or sourdough and farmhouse butter with single malts or pot stills, or peated whiskeys with wholegrain breads, such as rye and wholemeal, with a note to try adding seeds to homemade bread to complement the nutty nature of mature, sherry-finished Irish whiskeys.
  • Mature cheddar cheeses with single grain or Bourbon-matured whiskeys, with a note that it can be fun to line up four different whiskeys with the same cheddar to see how the cheese affects the essential character of the whiskey.
  • Different cured meats or charcuterie, from pork and lamb to beef and game, with different whiskeys, from light to sweet and mature.
  • Smoked fish, such as salmon, eel, tuna, and mackerel, with peated whiskey or a spicy pot still — the smoky nature of the fish will complement many different Irish whiskey varieties.
  • The charred flavour of most meats mean they match very well with mature whiskeys finished in a sherry barrel.
  • Dark chocolate mousse, or a few squares of good quality 70% chocolate, with a pot still or sherry matured whiskey, as higher cocoa content chocolate requires a more robust and rounded whiskey.


Speaking about the new guide, Director of the Irish Whiskey Association William Lavelle said:

“The Irish whiskey food pairings developed for us by renowned local food expert JP McMahon demonstrate how Irish whiskey and food can marry together to bring out the most exquisite and intense flavours of Ireland. We encourage people to enjoy these pairings in the pub or restaurant, or in the comfort of their home, to discover the magic of Irish whiskey and food.”

You can view the Irish Whiskey Food Pairing Guide at www.irishwhiskeyassociation.ie.


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