The Best Type Of Cheese To Pair With Bourbon, According To An Expert

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Continuing our conversation about the perfect bourbon and cheese pairings, expert Elizabeth McCall addresses how the proof of bourbon, such as high rye, can also influence your choice of cheese. “A higher-proof bourbon does impact flavor pairings due to the high level of ethanol. The ethanol can ‘burn’ your palette, so [pair it with] a cheese with a high-fat content.” The fat from the cheese coats our palates, minimizing bourbon’s burn. Additionally, when enjoying a higher-proof bourbon with cheese, McCall recommends “taking small sips.” This way, we can thoroughly enjoy even the strongest bourbons to their fullest, relishing their subtle flavors without an overpowering burn from the alcohol.

Finally, why must the fatty cheese be aged? “The aging concentrates the flavors,” McCall explains. Well-aged cheeses have more intense flavors than unaged ones. Aged cheeses are often saltier, nuttier, and more robust, making them good at balancing all of bourbon’s flavors. 

Thanks to McCall’s expertise, it is now clear how pairing cheese with bourbon is about balancing flavors, subduing the burn, and transforming the experience. After all, the best things in life are often a matter of perfect pairing, like aged fatty cheese and bourbon. 

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