The Perfectly Unlikely Pairing

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The Perfectly Unlikely Pairing

April Outturn 2024 Ambassador’s Address


Welcome to our third year of Music & Malts! This whole idea of pairing up music & whisky was sort of spawned out of the Virtual Pub sessions we hosted during the pandemic, and the enjoyment of whisky and music together while stuck at home. But that doesn’t mean it cannot work outside of a pandemic, and this has meant the format evolves and grows with the times. But this still begs the question: how do you pair music and malts?

I like to think whisky has five elements, just with maybe less aliens and world-ending complications. Nose (undiluted and with water), palate (taste), finish (length), mouthfeel (texture), and MOOD. The mood aspect plays a huge role in our enjoyment. That mood will be mostly built by your environment, your day, what you ate that day, the company you keep, and time of day. Whisky does taste different first thing in the morning vs that last midnight sip, and I don’t recommend doing both on the same day.

But mood plays a role in your enjoyment. The same can be said about music. Sometimes you need some J.S. Bach, sometimes some Mahler, sometimes some Miles Davis, or Khruangbin, or classic disco, or contemporary sound installation art. The diversity in music is endless. The diversity in flavour through single-cask whisky is much the same. No two casks are the same, no two compositions are the same.


But how do we actually “pair” these? We’ve given this a red hot go in the past, and will try again this month. Of course, a lot of this is subjective. Musical taste between two people, two casks, two moods, and two moments can vary wildly, but in the end, if we find a few of those moments with the lights down, the speakers up, and the aromas of great whisky swirling out of a glass, what else can you ask for? The other aspect of pairings that you might want to consider is the medium with which you enjoy both music and whisky.

Music, can be enjoyed recorded, with headphones or speakers, and that can be from a multitude of formats like vinyl, CD, streaming, or, if you’re so inclined, minidisc, SACD, or even 78RPM shellac! This could be likened to the differences between enjoying a single-cask whisky from a specific nosing glass for critical assessment, vs a hot afternoon of mixing some whisky and ginger ale with a big ice cube in an oversized tumbler. How good is versatility in spirits…

To pair things up this month, we’ve picked out a slew of tasty casks to put on stage, including the fascinating spirit from Distillery 6 with its weird still set-up, or the new world of American single malt from 143, or the Oily & Coastal Mull spirit from 42, or the incredible sherried and coastal 18, or our rather special Malt of the Month – a distillery that’s been making huge waves in the whisky community for their old-school flavour and incredible texture.

I hope you take a few moments this month to sit back, spin a record, and delve into the great casks on offer this month.



This article is featured in April 2024 Outturn — bottles will be available to purchase on Friday the 5th of April 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:

Matt Bailey is the Branch Director for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Australia. He's tirelessly trying to meet every member and share a dram with you all.

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