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Breaking the Rules PDF Print E-mail








Citrus Blossom Cocktail


Glenmorangie Original 

Seared Ahi Tuna 

Dressed with a Citrusy Salsa



12 Year Old Sherry Cask Finish

 Peppery Lambsicles with

 Walnut Pesto


Quinta Ruban

12 Year Old Port Cask Finish

(Click here to go to the tasting notes for this scotch) 

 Bacon Wrapped Diver Scallops 

with Meyer Lemon Honey Glaze


Artien 15 Year Old Sassicaia (Super Tuscan wine) Finish  Crostini of Fig Pate


Extremely Rare 18 Year Old

Apple, Blueberry, Caramel Cobbler Dressed with 

 Mocha Chantilly Creme









Breaking the Rules

This article is the beginning of long overdue recognition to those Chefs who delight us with their exploration of tasty ways to complement our favorite beverage.


How DID he do it?  Who would have expected such an exquisite match from a Chef who doesn't drink alcohol?  This breaks all the rules and was the bombshell surprise when we sat down to talk to Christopher Gardner, Chef Partner of Flemings Prime Steakhouse in La Jolla, California.  This avid golfer, cactus collecting, mountain bike rider from Walla Walla, Washington modestly suggested that beingchef-cgardner in the hospitality industry for 28 years honed his senses and skills in working with compatible flavors.  What an understatement!  Researching Glenmorangie amounted to more than nosing each expression like an expert. Since scotch  was the focus of this tasting event, he had to be careful that each recipe was deliciously compatible but did not interfere with the spirit.  So once each distinct palate was detected, the strategy for matching began.  Chef Gardner confessed that the prevelant notes of honey, vanilla and citrus too readily suggested 

dessert. Therefore the trick was in how to head his small bites in a savory direction.  And since Glenmorangie never strays too far from their known and beloved house style, Gardner needed to avoid becoming too flavor repetitious in order to keep the overall tasting experience exciting. In our opinion, he deserves high marks all around. Here is our synopsis of his impressive pairing menu:


Citrus Blossom Cocktail - Drops of honey frozen in a shot glass were topped off just before serving by Glenmorangie Original, plus a layer of lime foam and garnish of lemon peel.  The result is a beautiful and refreshing start to a memorable meal.


Original 10 Year Old with Seared Ahi Tuna dressed with a Mild Citrus Salsa - Small sections of grapefruit and orange were added to a tradtional tomato jalapeno salsa to echo the citrusy effervescence of this dram.  The clean, simple 

lightness of the fish acts as a delicious counterpoint to the creaminess of the Glenmorangie Original. 


Lasanta with Peppery Lambsicles escorted by a Walnut Pesto - Here Chef Gardner stayed away from the obvious citrus notes to highlight the nutty undertones of Lasanta. Lambsicles were simply but generously seasoned, then quickly deep fried to a perfect medium rare.  While garlic and scotch make an unlikely pair, the sweetness brought out in roasting was just the ticket.  Roasted garlic used in the right proportion was delicate enough to let the walnut flavor ring through.  Move over mint sauce, you have some serious competition with this savory pesto for lamb.


Quinta Ruban with Bacon Wrapped Scallops Drizzled with Meyer Lemon Honey Glaze -  Silky scotch accentuated by the smooth texture and sweetness of large diver scallops creates a heavenly combination. The subdued smokiness from the bacon adds interest, but it's the citrusy glaze that elevates this popular pairing from something usual to something sublime. (See recipe below)


glenmorangie_artein-180Artein 15 year old Sassicaia (Super Tuscan Wine) finish paired with Crostini of Fig Pate - We were anxious to try this newly released and featured limited edition from Glenmorangie. It is luxurious, complex and just dangerously drinkable.  Chef Gardner mixed sweet figs with the mildly tangy Montrachet goat cheese to produce a lush spread.  Topped with slices of dates, it made for a tasty food accessory that didn't upstage the star of this event. 


Glenmorangie Extremely Rare with an Apple, Blueberry, Caramel Cobbler dressed with Mocha Chantilly Creme - This velvety and warming, uber-smooth expression  was contrasted by the many textures and flavors of the dessert.  Baked fruit covered a layer of caramel and was topped with a delicate mocha cream.  While there was little in the cobbler to mimic the spirit, the total complex effect was entertaining to the tastebuds on so many levels.


Bacon Wrapped Scallops Drizzled with Meyer Lemon Honey Glaze

Sauce Recipe was graciously supplied by Chef Christopher Gardner


Quality Smoked Bacon

Large Diver Scallops

Cooking oil

Fresh cracked pepper  (preferably white pepper)

Sea Salt

Honey Meyer Lemon Oil (usually found in the baking section of food specialty shops)


Shown above, accompanied with field green salad dressed with balsamic vinegar/oil and of course Glenmorangie's Quinta Ruban.




1.  Mix together 1 tablespoon of Honey to 1 teaspoon of Meyer Lemon Oil until well combined.  Taste, then carefully add more lemon oil as desired.

Put into container that facilitates plating and set aside.


2. Prepare the bacon by cooking 1 strip per every 2 scallops in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 1-2 minutes, just long enough to render off some of the fat and slightly brown.  Remove from oven and cut down the middle lengthwise to thin long pieces.


3. Clean scallops and pat dry.  Wrap with bacon strip and secure with toothpick if needed.  Just before cooking, season with sea salt and fresh cracked white pepper. Heat non-stick saute pan over medium heat - add a dash of cooking oil then lay scallops in the pan.  Turn over accordingly.  Remove from the pan when both sides have caramelized on the bottom and cooked slightly up the sides. (Remove toothpick)


4.  Plate each scallop with a drizzle of the honey/citrus glaze, as well as artistically dotting some around each piece.  Serve immediately.



Whisky and Food - Focus On Fish PDF Print E-mail

Sip Smoke Savor is proud to publish this second in a series of articles developed exclusively for our website by Sheila McConachie and Graham Harvey, distinguished chefs, restauranteurs and authors of the award winning cookbook "The Whisky Kitchen - 100 ways with whisky and food". If you'd like to ask a specific food pairing question, link up with Sheila and Graham in our Social Network forum.



Whisky and Food - Focus on Fish


Whisky and fish, who would have thought it?  But why not?  Whisky is such a versatile ingredient that it has to have its place both in a fish recipe and alongside it as an accompanying dram.  Getting the match right is the key.  What sort of fish is it?  Is it oily fish, smoked, firm fleshed or more delicate like halibut?  What about the flavor?  Is it light and delicate like sole or does it have robust flavors like a spicy seafood chowder or a balanced marriage of flavors like Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes?  You can find whiskies that work with them all.


 Where to start?  So many distilleries now have such a vast range of expressions that it is not possible to match each expression, so start with the classic single malt of each distiller to begin your pairing journey.  To get you started we have a few suggestions below.  This table can be read from left to right if you start with the food, or from right to left if you start with the whisky in your cupboard.





This month's recipe follows the focus on fish with Graham's award winning dish from The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival as featured in our book "The Whisky Kitchen - 100 ways with whisky and food". The smooth Aberlour and orange sauce is a great hit in the restaurant and the dish is a WOW at dinner parties, although there seems to be a daunting list of ingredients and the methods look tricky.  But don't be put off, have a go and you will have learned quite a few straightforward culinary techniques - enjoy!


Roast Spey Valley Salmon with Aberlour 16 year old Single Malt Whisky and Orange Jus, Served with Dauphinoise Potatoes and Baby Asparagus, Garnished with Nuggets of Black Pudding.




Serves 4



For the Dauphinoise Potatoes

Unsalted Butter

1 clove garlic peeled and finely sliced

26 oz. (750g) waxy potatoes peeled and finely sliced

1 large shallot finely sliced

3 oz. (100ml) vegetable stock

1.5 oz. (50ml) double cream


For the Salmon

4 fillets fresh Salmon (6 oz./175g each), skin on with scales removed

Plain flour

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Olive oil and unsalted butter for frying

Wild salmon roe for garnish


Orange jus sauce

3oz. (100ml) Aberlour 16 year old single malt whisky

3 oz. (100ml) fish stock

3 oz. (100ml) vegetable stock

Juice of one orange

Pinch of orange zest

Honey to taste

Salt and pepper to season


Vegetables and Garnish

12 baby asparagus spears - hard stalks removed

6 oz. (175 ml) Spring field greens washed and sliced

Pinch grated nutmeg




For the Dauphinois Potatoes - Take a shallow 8 inch/20cm baking dish and butter all sides and rub in the garlic. Arrange the sliced potatoes and shallots in alternate layers, seasoning each layer and ending with a layer of potatoes.  Add the vegetable stock and cover with tin foil.  Place in preheated oven 375 degrees F/gas 5/190 degrees C for 35 to 40 minutes until potatoes can be easily pierced with a sharp skewer.  Remove foil, add double cream and brown in the oven for a further 10 minutes then set aside.


To cook the Salmon - Scale fish but leave skin on.  Wash and dry salmon.  Dust with a little seasoned flour and pat off any excess.  In a non-stick pan, heat a little olive oil and unsalted butter over medium heat.  Place salmon skin side down and fry gently until the skin has browned.  Seal the salmon on remaining sides, then transfer to an ovenproof dish and place in oven 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees F/Gas 5/190 degress C.  The time will vary according to how well you like your salmon cooked.


To make the Sauce - In a heavy based saute pan reduce whisky by 1/2.  Add fish stock and reduce by 1/2.  Add vegetable stock and reduce by 1/2.  Add orange juice and reduce by 1/2.  Add honey to taste to balance bitterness of whisky and reduce orange flavor.  Season.  Whisk in a little unsalted butter to emulsify the sauce just before serving.


Cook Greens - Steam asparagus for 4 minutes.  Just before serving place the field greens and nutmeg in a hot pan with two to three tablespoons of water and stir gently for a couple of minutes to wilt the greens.  Season, drain and set aside.


Black Pudding - If you have black pudding, slice and cut into diamond shapes then fry until lightly crisped.  Set aside.


Assembly - Slice the Dauphinoise potatoes into slabs about the same size as the salmon fillets.  Place the wilted greens on top the dauphinoise.  Place the Salmon, skin side up on top of the greens and season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with the salmon roe.


Dress the plate with sauce.  Add asparagus and fried nuggets of black pudding.


 If you have a chance to travel to Scotland, visit Graham and Sheila at Craggan Mill Restaurant in Grantown -On- Spey, Moray, Scotland: and enjoy this dish created by the master chef, himself.






 All rights reserved: The Whisky Kitchen - 100 ways with whisky and food, this website article text copyright 2008/2010

Graham Harvey and Sheila McConachie, photographs reproduced with permission - copyright 2008 Graeme Wallace.

"The Whisky Kitchen - 100 ways with whisky and food" GW Publishing 2008, ISBN  978-0955414572 2nd edition (9 Dec 2008).





Whisky and Food Part One PDF Print E-mail

Sip Smoke Savor is proud to publish this first of a series of articles developed exclusively for our website by Sheila McConachie and Graham Harvey, distinguished chefs, restauranteurs and authors of the award winning cookbook "The Whisky Kitchen - 100 ways with whisky and food".



Whisky and Food - Part One


sheilagrahamCreating a recipe begins with understanding the relationship between all of the ingredients and how they will work together to produce the final dish.  Matching whisky and food is merely an extension of this process.  Do you want to capture the nose, the background flavours or the finish?  Is it your intention for the dish to taste of the chosen whisky, or are your trying to create a subtle layer of flavour that changes what you are cooking from a very good dish to one that is utterly sublime?  So, to start, stick your nose in the glass and sniff.  With each whisky you will find a host of different aromas; peat, wood-smoke, tea, dried fruits, sea air, liquorice, vanilla, toffee, honey, almonds, citrus - the list goes on and on. 


Some whiskies can give you a hint as to how they would prefer to be used.  Take a nose of Springbank 10 year old and it will cry out to be used in your next Christmas cake.  Have a whiff of Glen Moray 16 year old and it will be telling you to get the chocolate out.  Do you enjoy the sweeter notes found in Speyside malts or the heathery background so often present in Highland whisky?  The citrus notes of Aberlour want to be matched with a delicate, oily fish like salmon.  When you taste the whisky it might give you a few more clues.  Cragganmore is an extremely complex whisky which is very versatile and works so well with a range of foods, from a classic Onion Soup, through Roast Belly Pork, all the way to Rhubarb Queen of Puddings.  The unmistakable peppery background of Talisker is a great seasoning for many a dish.  Graham swears that Royal Lochnagar smells of woodland mushrooms and that is why it works so well with chantarelles, ceps and wild boar.  Like wine it takes time to get to know the complexities and individual personalities of all the different whiskies, but what a wonderful journey of discovery.  Have fun! 


Whisky also makes a great difference in marinades.  Create a basic marinade by adding olive or hazelnut oil to your chosen whisky, lemon or lime juice and herbs for fish, vegetables or other light dishes.  Add Worcestershire Sauce and thyme to add strength and depth of flavour for beef, orange juice and spices for duck, basil for Mediterranean vegetables and so on. Just remember not to marinate fish or beef for longer than 30 minutes and you can go ahead and make your own delicious marinades.


Just as there can be endless debate about which Scotch is the best to drink, so there is similar scope for further discussion about which whisky goes best with certain dishes.  If we can in any small way be held responsible for fueling the passions of those involved in this debate, we will be very pleased indeed.


For this first article, we have decided to introduce you to cooking with whisky with a simple yet very pleasing recipe taken from "The Whisky Kitchen - 100 ways with whisky and food".  Creamy prawn pots are so easy yet thrilling to eat...Enjoy!



Creamy Prawn Pots


Talisker 12 year old's peppery flavour and strong finish, lift this dish to new heights.  This is an incredibly easy yet very glamorous starter.


prawns1Serves 4


1 ounce butter

2 plump shallots, finely chopped

14 ounces medium/large raw prawns or shrimp, shelled

2 tablespoons Talisker 12 year old Single Malt Scotch

1/4 pint heavy cream

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces grated cheddar cheese


Garnish with fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped


Start by buttering 4 ramekins lightly or use a nice teacup!  Now melt the remaining butter in a pan and fry the chopped shallots very gently until soft - do not brown.  This will take about 3-4 minutes.  Now add the prawns and heat through, quickly add the whisky and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Stir in the cream and heat again but remove the mixture from the heat before it reaches boiling point.  It is very important not to overcook the prawns or they will be rubbery and tasteless.  Add the chopped chives and stir in.  Season to taste and spoon into the ramekins.  Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and brown under a hot grill. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped parsley and toast triangles on the side.


Variation - vary the cheese you use.  Try replacing the cheddar cheese with a very thin slice of goat's cheese log.  You will then have a completely different dish that is equally wonderful!


Visit Graham & Sheila at Craggan Mill Restaurant in Grantown -On- Spey, Moray, Scotland:




 The Whisky Kitchen - 100 ways with whisky and food, this website article text copyright 2008/2010 Graham Harvey

and Sheila McConachie, photographs reproduced with permission - copyright 2008 Graeme Wallace.

"The Whisky Kitchen - 100 ways with whisky and food" GW Publishing 2008, ISBN  978-0955414572 2nd edition (9 Dec 2008).





Passion for Pairings PDF Print E-mail

appetizerIn looking around the "Sip Smoke Savor" website, you have probably reached the conclusion that it is operated by confirmed "Maltaholics" with a passion for pairings that enhance the malt whisky experience.  Needless to say an area that has been woefully neglected by star chefs, foodies and cookbook writers, is the art of scotch to food pairings.  Lest whisky fans feel totally maligned for their liquor religion, we've come to the rescue.



Welcome to our food pairings section and join our quest for the perfect edible companion to your favorite dram.  It is believed that at least 80 distinct flavor compounds have been identified in the wide range of scotch whiskies available today.  With 90 distilleries in Scotland aging and bottling thousands of expressions, our mission is somewhat daunting but guaranteed to be lots of fun.  Our goal is to become the definitive resource and inspiration for the next new culinary experience.  Perhaps someday we might even merit for our efforts a "Quick Fire Challenge" on Bravo Channel's Top Chef?



This section will contain a hedonistic catchall of flavor pairing information.  Articles will focus on how those many scotch flavors are technically developed and what is essential to know when pairing.  We will point you to the best informational websites, and provide pertinent book reviews.  We hope to identify and celebrate whisky-friendly chefs and their tasting menues, as well as share exciting recipes along the way.  Newcomers to the world of whisky need not be intimidated as there is only one rule.  This is all about personal palates and preferences as we are dedicated to the belief there is a dram for every taste.



Musings on Sensory Discrimination In Whisky and Food Tasting



Each person has their own threshold of sensory discrimination.  In part due to the differing aspects of individual physiology and also influenced by learned preferences from positive and negative experiences.  Known as the "Proust Phenomenon", the link of sense to memory was vividly described in the "tea and madeline" encounter in his famous novel "The Rememberance of Things Past".  This literary passage artfully describes the interplay of sight, smell, taste and memory in delivering "an exquisite pleasure" to a simple everyday meal. Taste and smell substantially benefit from visual cues that exploit our memory of those good and bad experiences, or create new ones.  Sight is often the first sense to be engaged prior to any connection with aroma or taste.  Needless to say, food preparation profits from a little artistry of presentation to set the stage for the stimulation of the other senses to follow. 



You have probably read that humans can distinguish around 10,000 different smells.  Many scientist believe that no two substances smell exactly alike, thus posing the opportunity to experience an infinite number of scents.  Each odorant activates a unique set of olfactory receptors to create a "signature", though no one seems to be able to explain unique preferences for deeming a fragrance pleasant or unpleasant, beguiling or offensive.  "Nosing" is an essential element to the enjoyment of whisky.  Special drinking glasses and master classes have been created to enhance one's ability to fully exploit the olfactory experience.  A nosing kit was specifically designed for the scotch industry that provides 24 essential aroma samples along with a 40 page guide.  Developed by expert and aroma scientist George Dood, this kit is as much about identifying the specific scent as building a vocabulary to consistently communicate the experience (What exactly is phenolic?).



Sampling definitely stimulates olfactory receptors and contributes to refining one's sense of smell.  If tastiyoung-drinkerng notes suggest ripe banana peel, wet blanket and seaweed, the quickest way to isolate those scents in a whisky is to experience them in their purest form.  This is an exercise (often best done in private) that anyone can perform to sharpen their olfaction acuity.  I for one hope that aroma and tasting experts are made and not born.  I devour nosing/tasting notes like a chef collects recipes and find these musings immensly intriguing, entertaining and educational.  Coveting the skills of these highly trained sniffers, I often check their notes after my initial tasting encounter to ensure not to miss a beat in the sensation/perception department.  Beloved and dearly departed Master Whisky Taster Michael Jackson once described a certain scotch as the taste of "barbecue on the beach".  I knew even before tasting, that this would be a smoky, peaty, medicinal Islay malt.  This phrase is now inseparable with my enjoyment of this dram, adding a suggestive Pavlovian element to the Proust Phenomenon.



Taste has been said to be 75% smell.  Much of the flavor of food and drink happens when a fragrance hits the cell receptor both in the naval cavity, back of the mouth and through the complex chemical reactions that intricately dance their way to our brains as we breathe in, chew, taste and swallow.  Taste buds have the task to intrepret sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory characteristics of a morsel or liquid while they are also registering its temperature and texture.  A rather Freudian focus on  "mouth feel" is elemental to the total scotch experience.  Phrases such as astringent, oily or mouth coating are routinely used to describe this sensation.  Master Tasters go to great lengths to capture an apt description for flavor intensity (body), as well as how layers of taste develop and how long they linger on the tongue (finish).  Having been left out by birth from the club of enviable 25% "Super Tasters" in the world, my enjoyment is no less as I struggle to identify that 15th elusive flavor note so vividly described from an aficionado who has sampled more drams than I.  While too often this effort results in pondering whether I am actually drinking the same whisky, there is no substitute for the marvelous victory once the flavor is found and the continuing realization that experience truly improves ones sensory discrimination.



All rights reserved by Sip Smoke Savor, Inc., please contact us if you wish to reproduce our material. 




Pairing Food with Scotch PDF Print E-mail

This article isn't meant to be a primer.  It is more of a beckon to experiment pairing food with the "other" beverage called scotch.  If this is your spirit of choice, there is no good reason to restrict enjoyment until after dinner.  Yes, there is the challenge of working with such a complex and multi-layered liquid component.  But the reward is a taste sensation that transcends the simple meal.



To begin your pairing journey you need to know a little bit about Scotch.  It is not a homogenous taste category.  There are wildly different flavor signatures across regions and distilleries.  Barley is the only constant, but when malted, fermented and matured in oak casks, it takes on many personalities from sweet and fruity to medicinal and smokey.  Profiles vary from house to house and cask to cask.  To complicate things further, there are many distinct notes in each dram beginning with the nose, then progressing to the palate and finally the finish.  A complex whisky may have double digit aroma and flavor characteristics.  Here lies the challenge as well as the reward.



Before you start pairing, take some time to learn your own palate and which whiskies you like and dislike.  Concentrate on their flavors, then try a single ingredient to understand how food develops the flavor notes of whisky and vice versa.  The easiest matches are those with complementary tastes.  Take a look at a most interesting website called "The Flemish Primitives" and its companion site:  This website reveals food items that are so close in profile that they actually work as ingredient substitutions.  Once you are comfortable with compatibility, progress to more complex and daring marriages.  There is only one absolute rule in food pairing:  "Don't overwhelm the food or drink with the flavor of the other".



Be cognizant of the texture and body of whisky.  They play an important role in the total sensory experience.  With scotch you will experience a much greater mouth feel than with most wines.  This should be exploited to its fullest and most gratifying advantage.  The velvetiness of perfectly cooked venison will be enhanced by the silkiness of certain malts.  Choose a creamy whisky to accentuate the richness of foods such as foie gras.  Matching is a matter of putting it all together.  Complementary flavors and textures in symmetry will heighten the taste experience, but be careful with smokey foods and whiskies.  Smoked foods actually pair better with sweet or malty scotches, while smokey whiskies fair well with citrus flavors, fresh fish and seafood.



If you identify a certain spice in your spirit, try a dish that uses that spice in its recipe.  Stretch beyond the main entree and pair with appetizers and desserts.  You might also want to consider the influence of the seasons by pairing a light citrusy scotch with a summer picnic or matching  robust and aromatic malts with autumn dishes.



Sometimes the most successful pairings are the ones that contrast flavor and texture.  Look across the flavor wheel and play with a range of foods on the opposite side to add excitement to your pairings.  Try a sweet malt with a spicy Indian dish. Read recipes from the most creative chefs of today and try your own interpretations.  Have fun, break the rules, but indulge in each new sensation.  With a little willingness to experiment you may discover a most divine and unusual result.  "Peppery scotch with oysters anyone?" 





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