Consider this. Animals eat grains and grass. Whiskey is distilled from fermented grain. So when pairing cheeses with whiskey, the flavor profiles that are common to both are often the best matches. American rye whiskey is a delicious stand-alone drink, boasting a spicy, earthy character. Paired with cheese, even the most skeptical wine lover can be tempted into a brief interlude with its dark magic. Why do brown spirits partner well with cheese? Because many of the common flavor descriptors for whiskeys (nutty, smoky, salty, sweet) describe different cheeses, too. Hard cheeses such as aged Gouda, Gruyere, and Cheddar work best. But so does a soft, creamy Camembert—the bite from the whiskey counters the richness of the cheese.
The Hudson Valley’s rye whiskeys offer a variety of complex flavors to experiment with. Try these suggestions and serve with dried fruits, dark chocolate, nuts, honey, and different types of bread to make the pairings even more interesting.
Hillrock Double Cask Rye Whiskey
This 100% deep, rich rye has notes of espresso, toffee, sarsaparilla and caramel. The finish reverberates with long echoes of clove, dried orange peel, nutmeg, and baker’s chocolate. Try this luxurious spirit with Hawthorne Valley’s aged Alpine raw milk farmstead cheese. The nutty flavors pair divinely with the whiskey. Augment the pairing with orange marmalade, roasted nuts, or dark chocolate.
Taconic Founder’s Rye Whiskey
This fine sipping rye is aged in white oak barrels until it achieves a golden, caramel color. While it has the earthy spice typical of its style, notes of creme brulee and bananas foster round out on the palate. Try this with a rich, cow’s milk blue cheese, like Cashel Blue from Ireland, and a drizzle of Taconic’s Maple Syrup.
Tuthilltown Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey
Known for its spiciness, honey-cinnamon aromas and buttery notes on the finish. Match it with 5 Spoke Creamery’s Tumbleweed and ginger snap cookies. The creamy finish of the cheese and the sweet spice in the cookie enhance similar flavors in the whiskey. Simply sinful!
FALL RYE COCKTAILS
Throughout Prohibition, bootleg rye whiskey was often mixed with sweet ginger syrups and sodas to mask its harsh flavor, while still complimenting its signature spice. Modern premium rye still benefits from ginger’s sharp bite. Cocktails using craft mixers, like Bruce Cost Unfiltered Original Spicy Ginger Beer; modern infusions such as activated charcoal; and a range of artisanal bitters are making rye a superstar behind many bars today.
1 oz. Taconic Founders Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Dry Vermouth
Juice of one clementine
Splash of Taconic Maple Syrup
Shake ingredients together with ice and strain into rocks glass. Garnish with clementine slice.
Courtesy of Taconic Distillery
2 oz. Activated Charcoal-Infused Hudson Manhattan Rye
3/4 oz. Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
4 dashes Black Walnut Bitters
Stir ingredients together, pour into coupe cocktail glass and garnish with Baby’s Breath.
Courtesy of Tuthilltown Spirits.