Thanksgiving dessert & whiskey pairings

November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving is one of those occasions where refusing dessert is just not done. Not matter how many helpings of turkey, stuffing and fixings you indulged in over the course of the meal, a lavish selection of sweets still awaits. My family made up a word for that too-full feeling one develops after eating a big meal – ‘bluch’ – as in, “I’m so bluch from dinner, but you only get to eat pecan pie once a year, right?”

Whiskey the digestif

Did you know that whiskey can act as a digestive? It can help with that ‘bluch’ feeling by getting the salivary glands geared up to help break down all that food. It also relaxes the body to prime it for the work ahead. And hey, it sure helps take some of the edge off any personal tension happening around the table! So when it’s time for that next round of holiday gluttony, it’s not a bad idea to have a nip of whiskey with it. Plus, it makes for a delicious accompaniment to the sweets.

However, serving alcohol with desserts can be tricky. Sometimes the wrong pairings can work against themselves and dry out the palate, or make everything taste bitter. The best way to pair them is to match things that are like the other – fruit with fruit, spice with spice, sweet with sweet, etc. Here’s a handy go-to whiskey and Thanksgiving dessert pairing guide to help you out:

Whiskey and dessert pairings

Pumpkin Pie
The sweet creaminess of the custard is cut by sharp baking spices that will overpower most Scotch or malty style whiskey. Serve it with a spicy rye, a high-rye bourbon, or a rye blend with a wine finish instead.

Hillrock Estate Double Cask Rye
A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye
Michter’s 10 Year Rye
Jim Beam Signature Craft High Rye Bourbon
Belle Meade Bourbon
High West Midwinter Night’s Dram

Fruit Pie or Crumble
Even a sweet apple pie has some residual tartness from the apples, which when combined with some whiskeys can make your whole mouth taste like you just drank orange juice after brushing your teeth. This is one of the most difficult things to pair, but fear not! You can serve it with a whiskey that is similarly fruity and sweet.

– Brenne or the new Brenne Ten
– Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique
– Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey
– Balblair 1990 (Second Release)
– Crown Royal XO
– Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year

Pecan Pie
This is pretty much a no-brainer – southern pecans, sugar, caramel, maybe a dollop of vanilla ice cream. If you’re not drinking a bourbon any time you eat a slice of pecan pie, you’re doing it wrong. Have you gotten your mitts on any of this year’s Antique Collection? This is a good time for a show of thanks by breaking out the Eagle Rare 17 Year, Stagg or William LaRue Weller. If you didn’t win the lottery, try one of these:

– Henry McKenna 10 Year
– Four Roses Small Batch
– Wild Turkey Rare Breed
– Elmer T. Lee
– Blade and Bow
– Maker’s 46

Chocolate anything
Whether it’s a black-bottom pie, brownies, cake, cookies, ice cream, mousse or even just simple squares of chocolate, it’s best to pair them with whiskey that is similarly rich and malty, and even a little smoky.

Almost anything from the Highland Park range will be a stunning accompaniment, particularly the 18 Year.

– Compass Box Hedonism
– Laphroaig 15 Year
– Glen Garioch 12 Year
– Yamazaki 18 Year
– Westland American Single Malt

Don’t stop at these recommendations!

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