Please select a page for the Contact Slideout in Theme Options > Header Options

Deciphering Whisky Pairings

Deciphering Whisky Pairings
May 27, 2016 Cask Staff Writer

We posted a story on a whisky-pairing event put together by Whisky Butler and Holiday Inn’s Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant a few weeks ago. The organisers invited us for a special media preview and excellent food aside, it’s quite admirable how they have spent countless drams figuring out the pairings by trial and error.

Unlike wine where there’s a long and somewhat structure method of food pairing, things are a little more challenging for whiskies because of its intensity and complexity. So there’s no better way than to go through the pairings and see what works, and what doesn’t.

I’m sure most of us tried our hands at whisky-food pairings before, albeit in a casual. I brought whiskies to family gatherings; the drams may not go with the food, but the convivial atmosphere pretty much makes up for the clashing notes between say, a delicately steamed pomfret and a full flavour cask strength Ardbeg Corryvreckan.

I also found out that most whiskies simply don’t work with our local fare. Be it Speyside, Cambeltown or Islay, the whiskies that I sampled with hawker dishes such as Hokkien mee and barbequed chicken wings became numbingly spicy.

So, I’m glad to be able to experience this whisky pairing session. At least, it made me think a bit more critically on whiskies can work with Chinese food.

Here are a few takeaways:

“Safe” whiskies work really well with chicken soup.

We had a dash of Yamazaki Distiller’s into the double boiled chicken soup with fish maw and dried scallop. The soup was pleasantly sweet and had that lip smacking collagenic goodness and with the whisky, it brought out an added dimension, especially at the end when it is not so hot. Some of the media reps at the meal described the soup as having fruity aftertaste. We figured that this should work with blends and Irish whiskies as well, for their balanced notes.

Sherry-matured whiskies goes well with stewed oxtail

Being a Cantonese restaurant, the oxtail was braised in a way that is similar to say, what you get when you order beef brisket. The oxtail was served with radish, on a bed of Chinese spinach. Anyway, the strong flavours of this dish really paired with the BenRiach 12 Sherry Matured. The dish brought out the creaminess of the whiskies and conversely, the whisky’s slightly oaky finish helped to cut through the heaviness (“gelat”) of the sauce and meat. It is highly likely that similar expressions such as the Glendronach 12 or the Kavalan Solist Sherry Matured will go well with this dish as well, or any other stewed beef dish for that matter.

The Longrow 18 is really enjoyable

This whisky was paired with the home-made noodles with live prawns and caviar. The Longrow is Springbank’s peated expression and its coastal characters really brought out the flavours of this dish. The umani flavours of the prawn become more pronounced and even the chicken stock that the noodles were cooked in. The whisky is also something that we really enjoyed. Pleasant peat, crème brulee and zest, with an oily mouthfeel that pleasantly embraces your palate. Good stuff!

The restaurant will be launching this menu on 1 July 2016, and it’ll be available till 31 August 2016. It costs S$138 nett for the 6-course and S$98 nett for a 4-course menu.

As we’ve mentioned in the previous post, to make a reservation, visit

Be sure to change the date and times to the valid periods, otherwise it won’t work. Otherwise, you can always give the restaurant a call at 6731 7173.


Comments (0)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *