The best way to drink whisky is to enjoy it with a piece of exceptional chocolate.
While a good glass of whisky can take some time to discern and appreciate, pairing it with chocolate can instantly warm up a beginner’s palate, while also thrilling the most experienced of tasters.
Andrew Ferguson is the ambassador for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Canada and owns Kensington Wine Market in Calgary, which is considered one of the world’s top whisky shops.
Andrew explains that whisky and chocolate are an excellent match because their flavour profiles and common tasting notes, such as honey and spice, are so similar. In order to get the most out of your tasting, be sure to enjoy both your chocolate and whisky at room temperature, which helps to maintain their ‘nose’ – a term that refers to their aromas, which are the biggest contributor to how we perceive taste. If you’re tempted to add ice or frozen whisky stones to your experience, skip them in favour of a touch of mineral water added to your whisky instead, which will help dilute it slightly without causing evaporation. When taking a bite of chocolate, keep it in your mouth for a few seconds while it melts so you have time to fully appreciate its various notes. Try breathing in through your mouth and out through your nose before chewing a few times and swallowing so you can distinguish all of the different aromas, flavours and texture.
Here, Andrew shares some of his ideal chocolate and whisky pairings:
Lindt Excellence Sea Salt Dark Chocolate
Try: The Arran Malt 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
This pairing is a refreshing study in contrasts, the saltiness of the chocolate brightens up this Scotch, which is naturally creamy with notes of citrus. The Scotch’s subtle honey flavour also helps to showcase the chocolate’s bold salt note.
Try: Compass Box Great King St. Blend
High quality and artisanally-blended, this whisky is high on flavour and perfect for a beginner taster. Its creamy, honey-like profile is the perfect, soothing match to the salty earthiness of this dark chocolate.
Lindt Excellence Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate
Try: Bunnahabhain 12 Year Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
This interesting Scotch is Maritime-like in its tasting notes, with an almost oily texture that pairs well with this chocolate’s lovely creaminess. The chocolate’s honey and toffee flavours also play well with the Scotch’s perceived chewiness and nutty notes of barley.
Try: Springbank 10 Year Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The creamy, cocoa buttery flavour of milk chocolate is the perfect contrast to this lightly peaty Scotch that is briny with a savoury finish. This allows the chocolate to shine rather than coming off as overly sweet on the palate.
Lindt Excellence Hazelnut Dark Chocolate
Try: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
This bold bourbon has fruity notes and a hint of spice that pairs well with the roasted nut flavour of the Hazelnut Dark Chocolate. This match is particularly compatible since both have similar flavour profiles of warm caramel and honey.
Lindt Excellence Intense Mint Dark Chocolate
Try: Laphroaig Quarter Cask Islay Single Malt Whisky
The sweet, cooling effect of the minty dark chocolate is a welcome addition to the robust and almost medicinal-like quality of this whisky. The mint flavour becomes elevated, while also helping to tame the Scotch’s intensity.
Try: Kilchoman Machir Bay Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Notes of bright lemon and the creamy mouth-feel of this whisky sets off the mint in this dark chocolate and allows it to shine. The fresh cooling effect in the bar also helps to balance this whisky’s burning wheat sensation.
Lindt Excellence Caramel & Sea Salt Dark Chocolate
Try: Talisker 57 North Single Malt Scotch Whisky
This Scotch has an intriguing hot chili oil profile, which creates a pleasing sweet and salty finish when paired with the Caramel & Sea Salt Dark Chocolate. The chocolate’s sweetness also helps to tame the peppery heat in the whisky, while highlighting its own creamy notes of whipped honey and vanilla.
Try: Ardbeg Corryvrecken Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The sweet and subtle savoury notes of the Caramel & Sea Salt bar are an ideal complement to this higher proof Scotch, which is partially aged in French oak resulting in both sweet and spicy aromas. This whisky also has an underlying smoky note, which makes it an elegant match with the chocolate’s salty-sweet finish.
Lindt Excellence 99% Cacao Dark Chocolate
Try: Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year
This whisky is soft, creamy and fruity with a smoky Maritime core. A dark chocolate with a strong flavour and full-bodied cocoa taste like this one, provides the perfect contrast.
Whisky’s not the only fine liquor that can be enhanced with chocolate. Check out our tequila and champagne pairing suggestions.