Let’s get one thing straight immediately. The information I am about to deliver may lead you down the irreversible life-path of spending the majority of your downtime sitting at home with your favourite ASDA cheese selection, a not too expensive single malt, all while deciding on whether you should watch the entire next season of Game of Thrones back-to-back or just stare blankly at the wall while the inevitable destruction of your entire social existence happens around you.

Either way you win.

I first stumbled upon the unlikely pairing of whisky and cheese in the early hours of a Sunday morning. Fuelled on whisky highballs and half-priced tinnies, I thought it would be a good idea to turn to the only thing that I own that could deliver third-degree burns instantly, and of course made a cheese jaffle. I emptied the meagre yet relatively exotic contents of the refrigerator cheese shelf onto two slices of Wonder White and slapped it into a jaffle iron. I then poured myself a glass of smoky whisky and proceeded to wait the agonising seven minutes before I knew I could attempt to eat the toasted cheese laser I was currently compiling using the famous ‘bite and blow’ technique made famous by my father.

The result was out of this world. Cataclysmic. Divine. Yes, I was already a little belted and probably didn’t know any better but the com- bination of hot, oozing mozzarella, bubbling cheddar and liquefied Danish blue alongside the smoke and spice of a peated whisky was simply perfection. I felt like I had discovered the Rosetta stone of culinary food experiences, a connection between the indecipherable twaddle rolled-out in modern cheese pairings and the spirit of the common (Scots)man.

Indeed, cheese and whisky go together like butter on toast, which is hardly surprising considering the last metaphor also pairs a dairy-based fatty emulsification with a grain based product of fermentation and heat. They were simply built to belong together.

It all makes so much sense. Dry wine isn’t built to handle the sharp saltiness, fatty oiliness or pungent mouldiness of strong cheeses. That’s of course discounting most dessert wines, which work largely because you’re drinking fig paste.

Whisky and cheese is also pretty much fool proof. As long as you can handle a neat dram and know your way around the cheese counter at your favourite large supermarket chain, you’re bound to have a good time. This is unlike the comparatively impossible minefield of choosing the $20 bottle of chardonnay that’s somehow tasked with the unenviable role of trying to fight the 200 odd years of English cloth cheddar tradition in a single mouthful.

It’s like going to a rave in your late 30s. It’s all too loud, it smells like sweat and there’s more acid then you remember.

It all comes down to mouthfeel. Whisky flavour profiles are powerful compositions, built on foundations of malt and grass, lengthened with honeyed oak or ocean-washed brine and assis- ted by high alcohol. These flavours complement the rich and buttery textures of the world’s greatest cheeses. They linger and develop together, rather than fighting against each other. They become greater than the sum of their parts and forge independent flavour nuances that can’t be found in the various products separately.

Put simply, they complement each other texturally, making confident pairings easier to achieve. So next time you sit down with a single malt, flick on the jaffle iron. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you’re watching the next season of Game of Thrones. All the dragons die.

By Sean Baxter, NEVER NEVER DISTILLING

TOP TIPS
Smoky Islay Scotch whisky paired with decadent triple- cream French blue cheese.
Honeyed Highland Scotch whisky paired with an English crumbly cheddar
Fruity Speyside Scotch whisky paired with a nutty Gouda or gassy Comté