Thursday, May 12, 2011

Scotch and cheese

I know, Scotch and cheese, it sounds like an unlikely combo. In the last 10 years there has been an explosion of artisanal cheese producers throughout Vermont, whose outstanding products I am always eager to sample. Combine that fact with a couple of whisky shelves brimming with single malts, and the two were bound to collide at some point. I'd love to say that there is an art and a science to pairing Scotch and cheese, but I'll be honest, it's more of a crapshoot. And the undertaking can be a bit of a minefield, with some of the unsuccessful pairings leaving you gasping for air and teary eyed. But when you find a combination that really works, the results can be nothing short of magical. The finest union that I have stumbled upon so far has to be Laphroaig Quarter Cask and Bayley Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro VT.

When this unlikely duo comes together, each brings the other to a whole new level. The Bayley Hazen has a rich, creamy texture (unlike any other blue I've tasted), which is punctuated by its intense, pungent flavors. The Quarter Cask also has a thick, creamy, velvety mouthfeel. With its sharp peaty depths wrapped around a malty core, its flavors reverberate on the palate. The interplay of the two flavor profiles is quite astonishing. Both have salty, earthy qualities, with the cheese bringing a nutty character to the table and the Scotch adding its biting smoky elements.

Each of these two are quite special in their own right. But when the two come together, it creates a synergy that provides a unique culinary experience.

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