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Unexpected scotch whisky and food pairings

Whisky has a complex flavour profile. It’s sweet, smooth and creamy. But also spiced and smoky, with hints of savoury freshness.

With so many subtle tasting notes, whisky is a delicious drink to pair with your favourite foods. Overall, whisky pairs best with meats, cheeses and sweet dishes. But there’s no rules when it comes to whisky pairing. Try experimenting and seeing what works. Pick similar flavours or go for a contrast, pairing sweet and salty or fresh and floral.

Here we share our favourite whisky and food pairings as well as some recipes to try at home.


  • Consider flavour profiles: Match the flavour profiles of the whisky and the dish. For example, if you have a whisky with fruity notes, consider pairing it with dishes that have fruity or sweet elements, such as glazed pork or desserts with berries.
  • Balance intensity: Pay attention to the intensity of flavours in both the whisky and the food. Lighter whiskies are better suited to lighter dishes to avoid overpowering the palate, while heavier, more robust whiskies can stand up to richer, more flavourful dishes like roasted meats or aged cheeses.
  • Contrast or complement: Decide whether you want to complement or contrast flavours. Complementary pairings enhance similar flavours, such as matching a peaty whisky with smoked salmon. Contrasting pairings balance out flavours, such as pairing a spicy whisky with a creamy dessert to offset the heat. Just be careful that a single flavour doesn’t become overbearing. For example, smoked cheese and smoked whisky together can result in the subtle complexities of each being drowned out.
  • Explore textures: Think about the texture of both the whisky and the food. Creamy whiskies might pair well with dishes that have a creamy texture, while a whisky with a crisp, dry finish could complement a dish with a crunchy texture, like fried chicken or tempura vegetables.
  • Experiment and personalise: Ultimately, the best pairings are often a matter of personal preference. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations to find what works best for your palate. Keep in mind that there are no strict rules, and that enjoying the food and whisky in tandem is the ultimate goal.


Whisky food pairing can be a fun and creative endeavour. All it takes is a little knowledge of complementary and contrasting flavours. And luckily, scotch whisky works well with so many foods, so you really have a smorgasbord of ingredients to choose from. From fruits and sweet treats to meats and cheeses, it’s easy to experiment with scotch-food pairings. However, if you’re not sure where to begin, use some of these ideas to springboard your menu.

  • Chocolate: milk chocolate works well with nutty and fruity scotch such as The Glenlivet 15 Year Old Single Malt.
  • Fruits: Match papaya, pineapple, and mango with The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve for a truly tropical hit.
  • Seafood: Foods such as prawn, crayfish and crab pair nicely with The Glenlivet Distiller’s Reserve thanks to its subtle pear notes and smooth finish.
  • Cheese: If creamy cheeses such as brie are your thing, you won’t go far wrong with The Glenlivet 21 Year Old Scotch as it’s fruity but with an intriguing spice that stands out against the mellow, creamy cheese.
  • Ice cream: Vanilla, white chocolate, honeycomb and butterscotch all shine in The Glenlivet 22 Year Old Single Cask Barrel 2022, making it the perfect accompaniment to an indulgent ice cream sundae sprinkled with nuts and finished with caramel sauce.

Here’s more ideas to try at your next whisky pairing dinner party.


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Whisky and food pairing recipes

If you’re craving something a little fancy, a little fun, and a little unexpected, we’ve got just the evening in mind. Become your own in-home mixologist by whipping up a few next-level whisky cocktail and recipe pairings.

Impress your friends (and let’s be honest, yourself) by serving inspired duos that let the notes in the whisky and the flavours of the food work in harmony. These combos are perfect for your next outdoor garden party, date night, or even just a low-key solo happy hour at home.

So, grab your cocktail shaker and get ready to make some great scotch whisky and food pairings.


Maple syrup and ham are a well-known combination. Whether that’s as cured meat that’s used in a sandwich or combined as bacon and syrup on a stack of pancakes. We’ve taken this winning flavour combo to new heights by pairing Crispy Prosciutto Toasts and a Maple-Red Wine Sour.

Perfect as a snack to start the night off right, crunchy baguette slices are brushed with olive oil (of course), topped with rich mascarpone, and finished off with crispy, crunchy baked prosciutto.

For the Maple-Red Wine Sour, The Glenlivet 12 Year Old‘s smooth taste along with wine, lemon juice, and just enough maple syrup to add a hint of sweetness, make for a tangy, unique sip that stands up to the richness of the toasts.

Crispy Prosciutto Toasts Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes | Makes 1 dozen


  • 3 very thin slices of prosciutto (about 2 oz.)
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 thin slices baguette (about ¼ inch thick) (about 4 oz.)
  • 1/4 c. mascarpone or 1/4 cup softened cream cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. finely sliced chives


  • Preheat oven to 375 with a rack in the upper and lower third. Arrange prosciutto in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top sides with 1 teaspoon of the oil.
  • Arrange the baguette on another baking sheet, and brush both sides with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Bake until prosciutto crisps and edges curl, about 14 minutes and the baguette is lightly toasted and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let both cool completely.
  • Break each piece of prosciutto into 4 pieces. Spread the toasts with mascarpone and sprinkle with pepper. Top each toast with a piece of crispy prosciutto and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.


For an easy, but still totally fancy-seeming appetiser, rustle up some blue cheese salad bites. Pair your no-utensils-required bites with a Maraschino Cherry Manhattan. The ultra-smooth whisky in the cocktail has notes of pineapple, which cut through the tangy, creamy flavour of this appetiser, whilst the cherry flavour adds contrasting sweetness to the salt bacon.

If you want alternative drink options to pair with this dish, The Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve might work well. Its honey and apricot aroma will complement the blue cheese, whilst cinnamon notes will provide a classic pairing to the fresh apple.

Blue Cheese Salad Bites Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes | Total time: 15 minutes | Makes 1 dozen


  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 large green apple, stemmed, cored, and cut into tiny thin pieces
  • 1 small rib of celery, very thinly sliced
  • 4 strips of cooked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/3 c. chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 endive leaves, from two heads
  • 1/2 c. finely crumbled high-quality blue cheese
  • 1 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh dill sprigs


  • In the bottom of a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar, dijon, and maple syrup until well combined. While whisking, slowly pour the olive oil into the vinegar mixture until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the apple, celery, bacon, and walnut to the dressing and toss to coat. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Arrange the endive leaves on a platter and fill them with the apple mixture. Top with the blue cheese and dill and serve immediately.


Is your sweet tooth the driving force behind your food choices? If it is, then this is the combo for you. Our Salted Caramel Whisky Bread Pudding gets boozy with a big old splash of The Glenlivet 12 Year Old. For some double-whisky action, eat it alongside a sparkling apple cinnamon cocktail—its spiced effervescence is just right to balance the syrupy sweetness of the bread pudding.

Salted Caramel Whisky Bread Pudding Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 2 hours 15 minutes | Serves 12


  • Makes 1 1/2 c. caramel sauce
  • 1 (1-lb.) loaf brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 12 cups cubes)
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. The Glenlivet 12 Year Old
  • 1 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream


  • The day before: Leave bread cubes out overnight to dry out. (Alternatively, place bread on a baking sheet and bake at 200º for 20 minutes, then let cool.)
  • Combine 1 cup of the sugar, corn syrup, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, swirling occasionally, for about 11 minutes total, until the mixture is a deep amber colour (a candy thermometer should register about 350).
  • Remove from heat, and carefully pour in ¼ cup of The Glenlivet 12 Year Old and the ¾ cup of the heavy cream. (Caramel will bubble.) Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 teaspoon salt, and stir until caramel is smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a large baking dish (8-by-11-inch) with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining cup of sugar and eggs. Add the milk, remaining ½ cup of heavy cream, the remaining ¼ cup of The Glenlivet 12 Year Old, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Add bread and toss to combine. Let the bread soak for 20 minutes, tossing a few times to submerge.
  • Transfer half of the bread mixture to a prepared baking dish and drizzle with 1/3 cup of salted caramel sauce. Top with the remaining bread mixture and another 1/3 cup of salted caramel sauce. Bake until custard is set and the top is golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serve drizzled with more salted caramel sauce.

Photographed by Jenny Huang. Prop styling by Beatrice Chastka. Food styling by Tyna Hoang, Recipe development by Laura Rege.

Article was originally written by Lara Rege for Delish.

Looking for more ways to combine your love of whisky, food and flavours? Check out our whisky cocktail recipes and our guide to cooking with whisky.