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Whisky Whispers

Beer and Whisky Matching Explored

Ever adventurous, at R&B Distillers we’re exploring beer and whisky with some of our brewer friends.

Before joining R&B distillers my former life was as a beer selector for Drinkmonger and Royal Mile Whiskies. During that time, I developed a passion for beer, an obsession that got close to rivalling my whisky obsession!

During that time, I also worked with Caroline at Holyrood 9a (a great Edinburgh beer pub with a good spirits selection, and exceptional burgers) on developing beer and whisky pairings.

After all, having a dram with your beer is a classic Scottish thing to do in pubs and we wanted to see whether it made a difference which beer and which whisky we chose.

What myself and Caroline (now at Dishoom Edinburgh) worked on were some extreme pairings (a Belgian red sour with an Arran Amarone – full of flavour) and some safer pairings (Brooklyn Lager and a North British Bourbon cask) to see if the flavours of different styles of beer and whisky worked together, and if they enhanced each other.

beer and whisky at holyrood 9a

We found certain cases where they really improved each other.

Beer and Whisky Pairings that Work

A couple of matches that really worked, that I’ve continued to use since include:

A porter and a smoky whisky: it’s an instant winner. My preference is a slightly chocolatey smoky whisky with a quite malty porter. Or make it an even more chocolatey pairing with a chocolate porter.

Sour & Red Ales with red wine casked whisky: The berry notes and tart notes of the beers work well with wine casked whiskies.

Richer lagers and Bourbon casked whisky: Something like Brooklyn lager with a Bourbon matured whisky works quite well as the sweetness of the whisky sweetens up the toasted malt notes.

At R&B Distillers, we want to take this experimentation further, so we are working in partnership with a few different beer producers and beer bars, to try out more and more matches.

Groundwork Beer and whisky pack from R&B distillers

We’ve already lent a first release Raasay While We Wait cask to Raasay Brewing Co in partnership with Plockton Brewery to celebrate 2016’s community bonfire night on the island with Groundwork old-style ale.

Cross Borders Partnership

Now we’re planning to work with Cross Borders Brewers on beer and whisky matching events. The first one was held at the Red Squirrel Pub in March and saw us match Raasay While We Wait with Cross Borders Porter and Borders Highland Grain with Cross Borders IPA. And look out for another exciting project between us soon.

Brewhive Beer & Whisky matching

We have also been work with Brewhive – having the privilege of sharing an HQ building with them – spending an afternoon matching our whiskies with some of their beers. Unanimously we agreed that Raasay While We Wait and their Onyx Star oatmeal stout was a perfect match, although we had a splint camp over who in our group preferred Borders with Early Light golden ale or Foxtail bitter.

Why not try for yourself and let us know your thoughts on these or any other beer & whisky pairings?