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

cheese and bourbon
cheese and bourbon - Static Media/Shutterstock

If you've ever wondered what the best type of cheese to pair with bourbon, we have the answer. Tasting Table sat down to chat with expert Elizabeth McCall, Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve, who brings light to the exquisite pairing of bourbon and cheese. McCall states, "We always recommend an aged fatty cheese." FYI, fatty cheeses include cheddar, mascarpone, brie, goat cheese, and Camembert.

But why are aged fatty cheeses the best type of cheese to pair with bourbon? According to McCall, bourbon is very complex. She states, "Cheese is a vehicle for experiencing these flavors [in bourbon]." The reason behind this is cheese has fat, and the fat content coats your palate, blocking the ethanol, which "helps you experience more of the flavor," McCall adds.

With each sip, you get less of the alcohol's intensity and more of the bourbon's nuanced flavors. "We have 215 flavor attributes in every sip [at Woodford Reserve]," McCall enthuses. A bite of aged fatty cheese will help bring out all these flavors, such as caramel, oak, vanilla, floral, fruits, and even spice.

Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked

Aged Fatty Cheese Reduces Bourbon's Burn And Balances Flavors

different bourbons with cheese varieties
different bourbons with cheese varieties - Barmalini/Getty Images

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.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.