Dram Fine Dessert Pairings

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Dram Fine Dessert Pairings

May Outturn 2024 Feature Article


It’s dessert month (not to be confused with desert month, its drier counterpart) and the easiest way to celebrate is with what one may call a “dessert” dram. Something sweet, maybe juicy? A few come to mind from over the last year: Cask 94.43 Soirée with Crème Brûlée, CW1.5 Cinnamon sins, and Cask 68.70 Intriguing idiosyncratic; all of these I would consider to be dessert drams in one form or another on account of their sweet or sweet-adjacent notes (cinnamon, Nutella, burnt sugar, custard etc.). But pouring a “sweet” dram is easy, what about pairing a Peated whisky with a Greek pastry, or an Ex-cosecha-wine-barrique-matured whisky with a peanut butter and chocolate cookie?

I decided my time was best spent trying a few of these dessert pairing combinations so you, our dear members and readers, could know the outcome and perhaps be inspired to re-create or try your own pairings. (We already saw some brilliant dessert pairings during Unusual Pairings month in March, so we know many of you won’t shy away from a sweet and a dram). Let’s begin with…a light appetiser with a tasty and fun wood finish!


Pairing #1:
Peanut butter and chocolate cookies paired with Cask 13.99 Tart cherry fruitcake

This is already honestly such a fun dram and a flavour journey in itself; five years in ex-bourbon and four years in an ex-cosecha wine barrique. The cookies were generously donated by our friends over at No Vacancy Gallery (this is not sponsored content, by the way) and were the crumbly kind, not the doughy kind. Neither element overpowered the other (I have a gut feeling that may not have been the case had this been a doughy cookie), but certain elements of both the cookie and the dram were enhanced.


The first thing I noticed, was that the peanut butter aspect was turned into a peanut butter syrup once I allowed the dram to wash over the thousands of taste buds in my mouth. Similarly, a Woolies cheesecake topped with kiwis and strawberries made an appearance, I would say an enhancement of the dram more than the cookie itself. This was a nice pairing, but as my lunchtime progressed, so too did the quality of the pairings.


Pairing #2:
Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart paired with Cask A5.5 Pitch dark fruit


Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart (which is the name of the business) have a few stores in various states around Australia so if you’d like to replicate this pairing at home, you may not have too much trouble. I opted for a traditional flavour — “Original Cheese Tart” — and was not disappointed. The single-cask Armagnac was an adequate pairing as the tart itself was not very sweet, but the dram was (plenty of stone fruits and blackcurrant bordering on syrupy Ribena, but thankfully never crossing that border).

My first takeaway from this pairing other than “damn” was how the flavour of the tart’s crust was enhanced; suddenly it was like I was having the freshest possible version of the tart as if it had just come out of the oven. My other takeaway was that the cream cheese filling when paired with A5.5 almost became like a syrupy Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits dram (which makes sense considering the flavours of the Armagnac on its own), with a little pinch of sulphur, something I personally did not mind.


Pairing #3:
Banoffee pie paired with Cask 66.207 Sweet succulent smoke


A rare treat deserves a rare dram, and would you believe this was my first ever banoffee pie?! And before you ask, no I did not eat ALL of it. Cask 66.207 has a gentle smoke and sweetness on the nose, but the palate lacks that same level of sweetness. Enter the banoffee pie. Though, the pie doesn’t necessarily enhance the sweetness in the dram, as much as the 66.207 enhances the caramel note of the pie in a way that will make you think the caramel emanates from the dram.

I was told that the crust is a real treat on a banoffee pie, so I thought I should take a slice out of the back to see how that would hold up with a dram. I felt like a wash of white sugar particles had just danced and frolicked all the way down the back of my throat and thought “wow, damn”. I’m fairly certain the crust had some extra sugar compared to the base, and that the 66 simply activated it in a way that made it come alive. So far, this was certainly the most decadent pairing with the soft Highland smoke transforming the pie into a whole new beast. One day we’ll have an exclusively desserts and peated whisky pairing experience. For now, though, it’s time to finish with the final pairing.


Pairing #4:
Kataifi paired with Cask 149.7 A coal scuttle of jam and treacle


Kataifi — κανταΐφη— is a Greek sweet consisting of pastry, nuts, honey syrup and cinnamon. It’s fantastic, and a personal favourite of mine. Being that it was probably going to be the richest of the four desserts — on account of the syrup and the lady behind the counter asking me if I would like extra syrup (take a guess what my answer was) — I decided to pair it with Cask 149.7 from the peninsula of Ardnamurchan, a 7yo peated whisky matured in an ex-Oloroso sherry cask.

Both of these elements shared a similarity, they both contained notes of cinnamon (my favourite spice, as it were), so it came as no surprise that a wave of deep-heat cinnamon took over my mouth after a bite of kataifi and a sip of the 149.7; it was like a less sugary version of a Gloria Jeans cinnamon hot chocolate (remember those guys?). The next note I detected was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one — 100s and 1000s sprinkles. This was a tasty pairing, but I can’t help but feel like it would have benefited from being paired with a more heavily peated dram.

Desserts aren’t for everyone, but even if they’re not really your thing I encourage you to take a stab at pairing some tasty, sweet treats with some delectable single-cask, cask-strength drams! Bonus points if they’re some of the all-star casks featured in this month’s Outturn. Pair ‘em up, show us your favourite pairings and tasting notes on the social channels, and you could with something special…check out our member offer this month to find out more. Until next time — slàinte.


This article is featured in May 2024 Outturn — bottles will be available to purchase on Friday the 3rd of May at midday AEST exclusively to members of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Not a member? Click here to learn more about the world’s most colourful whisky club.


About the Author:

Adam Ioannidis is SMWS Australia's Marketing Coordinator and general appreciator of whisky, music and cinema.

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