The Cheese Lover’s Guide: Pairing Liquor With Cheese

April 10, 2020

The Cheese Lover’s Guide: Pairing Liquor With Cheese

Ask a room full of budding cheese enthusiasts what booze they would pair with their favorite cheese, and you’ll probably hear a chorus of wine and beer options. Don’t get us wrong, we’ll never say no to a hunk of colby alongside a glass of pinot noir. But what if you broaden your horizons a bit?

Take a trip to the rainy highlands of Scotland with a glass of scotch or capture some French vibes with some cognac. Whatever your liquor of choice, there’s a never-ending selection of Wisconsin Cheeses that you can pair with it. 

Pairing Cheese With Brandy

Brandy, you’re a fine girl. This sweet-sipping liquor is commonly mixed up with other spirits, so let’s clarify two common misconceptions before we get to what really matters: the cheese. 

Brandy is essentially distilled wine or fruit juice. Grapes are the most common fruit for fermenting, but some regions use apple.

All cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac. Cognac is a specially regulated type of brandy made in the Cognac region of France. Cognac is by far the most popular variety of brandy.

Regardless of its origin or designation, brandy has a delightfully smooth and sweet flavor making it a great pairing partner for cheese.

What are our favorite pairings? We’re so glad you asked. 

Blue cheese and cognac

We’re believers that opposites attract—an earthy and salty blue cheese is the perfect match for a sweet and smooth cognac. While we cherish our full-flavored aged blues, we want a gentle interplay of flavors, not a battle. So stick to a mild blue like Roth Cheese’s Buttermilk Blue.

Parmesan and brandy

Most varieties of brandy have just a tad more sweetness compared to cognac, and for that reason, parmesan is an ideal pairing. Parmesan is famous for its umami, and all that savory goodness contrasts beautifully with each sip of fruity brandy.

A good brandy deserves an even better parmesan. That’s why we’d recommend an aged parmesan like Sartori Company’s Sarvecchio®. 

Pairing Cheese With Whiskey

While it's less traditional than a wine or beer pairing, there is something truly exceptional about the combination of great whiskey and great cheese.

With enough varieties and distinctions to make your head spin, the world of whiskey nearly rivals the universe of cheese in complexity.

For cheese pairing purposes, though, we can distill whiskey down to several types worth knowing. 

Aged cheddar and rye whiskey

Picture yourself reclining on a comfy chair next to a roaring fireplace. You know that feeling of warm and fuzzy contentment? That’s what the heavenly combo of aged cheddar and rye whiskey tastes like.  Distilled from more than 51% rye grain, rye whiskey is known for having a spicy, or even slightly fruity flavor, along with the usual whiskey kick.

An aged or bandaged cheddar complements the complex flavors of the whiskey with enough richness to soak up the heat left from each sip. Exactly what you want to unwind after a long day. 

Gouda and bourbon

Compared to rye whiskey, bourbon has a sweeter flavor profile (think caramel, honey, and vanilla). Made primarily from corn and barrel-aged, bourbon is a classic starting point if you're new to the world of whiskey. For cheese pairing, we want something creamy and nutty to harmonize with our bourbon. Enter gouda.

Gouda is that friend you can safely invite to any party because they’ll get along with everyone. Our preferred pick would be Edelweiss Creamery’s Grazier Aged Gouda.

You need a more robust cheese to stand up to bourbon, and the aging process gives gouda that extra oomph’ it needs to play with bourbon.

Alpine-style and scotch whiskey

If you like smoky, you’ll love scotch. Scotch comes exclusively from distilleries in Scotland and can vary dramatically in flavor based on region.

Whatever the region, alpine-style is one of our favorite pairings for scotch. Why? Alpine-style is a robust, hardy cheese with plenty of nutty flavor to match the intensity dished out by a glass of scotch. 

Ready to pair and see?

Whatever your preferred drink, there’s a Wisconsin Cheese eagerly waiting to be consumed with it. When you’re ready for even more pairing options, you can set sail for new, cheese-filled horizons with our comprehensive list of cheese and drink pairings. Want a meal or meat pairing to go with all that wine and cheese? We don’t blame you. Check out our recommended lists to get started.

Explore the world of meats and cheeses, or pick something else that suits your style from our selection of over 300 handcrafted recipes featuring Wisconsin Cheese. Share your creation with us on Instagram or Facebook and become part of the largest cheese community in the world!

FAQs: Pairing Liquor with Cheese

What cheese goes well with bourbon?
When pairing cheese with bourbon—or any liquor—the most important idea is to match intensity. Pick a nutty and smooth cheese like gouda or cheddar. The fat content will help balance the ethanol burn from the bourbon while matching the slightly sweet flavor in each sip.

Does cheese go with scotch?
Yes! Scotch and cheese make for an excellent combo. We’d recommend a robust cheese like an alpine-style to stand up to some of the smokier varieties such as Islay Scotch. Alpine-style cheese has plenty of nuttiness to gently contrast with scotch’s peatiness.

What liquor goes with cheddar?
You’re in luck! Cheddar gets along with many different liquors. Some of our favorite liquor pairings for cheddar are dark rum, bourbon, and rye whiskey. Whiskey in particular goes swimmingly with an aged cheddar.


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