Whiskey is to beer what cheese is to wine. Okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch but if the crazy influx of bourbon barrel aged beers is any indication, there's a special place for whiskey in the hearts and palates of many beer lovers.
We asked seasoned New York City Bartender/Mixologist (Mixologist is what the highly trained, fancy ones are called these days) Nick Jackson from Ward III and The Waldorf Astoria, to give us his best recommendations for whiskey and beer pairings; he conquered the task in style, and naturally in only a New-York-Minute.
"A lot of these recommendations (as with any subjective tasting) are based on personal preference from whiskies that I personally enjoy. Your mileage may vary as will your personal palate, but these are a good jumping off point for further exploring. The best pairings are the one's that please your specific taste buds. A mostly complimentary (similar last profiles) pairing, as opposed to contrasting, follows"
Stout: Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
- Jura Brooklyn Scotch: Slightly peaty with nice notes of smoke but not overshadowing the sweetness from the Sherry and Pinot Noir cask aging. A full Whisky which compliments very well the Stout category in general.
- Ardbeg 10: My favorite on the peat/smoke front, it easily goes well with any Stout but especially my favorite: Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro. Dark roasty Stouts always go well with peat and malt.
Pilsner: Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yellow Pils
- Hudson Baby Bourbon or Blanton’s Bourbon: Session-ability is key here, and a nice bourbon makes this combo good for multiple rounds in one sitting. Both Bourbons are very approachable with nice caramel and vanilla notes to pair with the Pils.
IPA: Sixpoint Resin
- WhistlePig Straight Rye: WhistlePig makes 100% rye whiskey that stands up to the power of Resin's...resin. The dank and rye experience gets even bolder if you can find the Boss Hog Overproof.
- High West Campfire: With the overly (almost weed-like) hoppiness of the Resin, why not inhale the full affect with the smokey yet sweet Campfire.
Porter: Deschutes Black Butte Porter
- Westland Peated Malt: Beyond the typical peat/smoke Porter pairing, Westland brings another layer of flavor with Pale Chocolate Malt in its grain bill. This compliments the chocolatey notes of the Porter. The Westland Peated Malt whiskey is made form a mash of some of the smokiest malts in the world, going along with Black Butte, the beers namesake, litterally being a Stratovolcano located in eastern Oregon.
- Dalmore 12:A nice approachable Highlands Scotch with notes of chocolate and coffee to go along with its dark weather fall/winter flavors.
Sour: Victory Kirsch Gose
- Ransom Whipper Snapper Oregon Spirit Whiskey:You could play it safe with Gose and go for a mellow bourbon, but it is much more interesting to pair with a grain spirit. The Whipper Snapper is part Pacific Northwest malted barley and part Kentucky corn Whitedog, not really fitting into any particular whiskey category. It is somewhat sweet because of the corn, but has nice herbaceous notes and medium to long finish.
- A shot of half Cynar / half Mezcal: It may not be whiskey, but it sure is a tasty shot-- that will definitely result in some flavor calculations with the Gose. And oddly enough our tongues love math.
Saison: Boulevard Tank 7
- Colonel E.H. Taylor Rye: The Taylor Rye is very balanced with a slightly floral, caramel/vanilla, and spice nose. In taste it compliments the white peppery spice of the Saison with its own deep white pepper-like rye flavor. A truly fine whiskey on it’s own, even better along side a fantastically funky Saison.
Scotch ale/ Wee Heavy: Parallel 49 Salty Scot
- Talisker Storm (or Talikser 10) Scotch: The comparative saltiness of the Scotch/Bourbon to the Ale-- Talisker is aged on the coastline of Scotland picking up heavier salt and smoke notes (the Talisker Storm even more so).
- Jefferson's Ocean Bourbon: Jefferson's Ocean is said to be aged at sea and therefore imparted with slight saltiness as well.
Cream ale: Carton SS- C.R.E.A.M.
- Widow Jane Bourbon: Both (whiskey and ale) are captivatingly creamy, the mouth-feel of the Widow Jane almost leaves a slight film-like smoothness. The Cream Ale follows it elegantly with a frothy semi-sweetness.
Barley Wine: Lost Abbey Angel's Share
- Angel’s Envy Bourbon: It almost seems too obvious, even the names are both paying homage to the lost portion of booze during aging. The bourbon is finished in Port Wine barrels, so it compliments the Barley Wine's warm boozy notes very nicely.
- High West A Midwinter Nights Dram: A bit more adventurous with the whiskey being rye that was aged in port barrels as well as french oak, the woodiness really draws out the characterization of malt notes in the Barley Wine.
For Cheapskates with Good Taste: Narragansett Lager
- Old Crow Bourbon or Old Overholt Rye: For those easy drinking times when simplicity is key. The Overholt can always be hit with a few dashes of Angostura bitters as is the tradition at Ward III. A time tested combo all over the east coast.
As with every successful New York Hustler, Nick isn't just a bartender, he's a man of many talents. Check out his hand-made designer bow ties from his new brand Jackson Brothers: Jxnbrothers.com. He happily accepts custom jobs, so feel free to email him via the website with any creative style ideas you can imagine.
Drink responsibly my friends-- caution these pairings can lead to an abundance of fun and deliciousness.