Close your eyes and think of the word “Scotch.” What do you see? Many images might come to mind, but one thing you’re probably not envisioning is a glass of whisky alongside a cardboard pizza box. Well, we’re excited to clue you in on a little secret: Scotch is an eminently versatile liquid. You can mix it into cocktails. You can pour it over ice for dessert. You can even match it melodiously against the most popular of street foods. In fact, the combination of Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch and pizza is probably the most delicious food and drink pairing you’ve never tried. It’s high time we fixed that.
“Scotch and pizza pair together phenomenally well because you have so many options on the flavor spectrum available to you on both sides,” explains Ewan Morgan, national portfolio ambassador for Johnnie Walker. “The trick to making the pairings is understanding the primary flavors and not overthinking it.”
Indeed, the reason why this crave-able combination has eluded so many is because they’ve overthought it. Some make the mistake of thinking that Scotch is too precious to play with. On the contrary, what better a way to treasure something precious than by positioning it among moments dedicated to fun? And who isn’t having fun when they’re having pizza?
So, let’s have a closer look at the pairing possibilities. Five flavorful suggestions are included below. Bon appétit and slàinte mhath!
Johnnie Walker Black Label With Bacon and Fig Pizza
“Johnnie Walker Black Label has this deep smoked fruit, lightly-spiced character and a delicate sweetness,” explains Morgan of the widely celebrated Blended Scotch expression. “It pairs exceptionally well with fig and smoked meats — on a pizza preferably with a nice, charred crust.”
Start by pouring a dram of Black Label and taking a prolonged nosing of its alluring aromas. This will prime your palate for the food to follow. Then drop a few cubes to join the whisky in a rocks glass. It’ll increase the refreshment quotient of the liquid after each bite.
Johnnie Walker Green Label With Goat Cheese and Walnut Pizza
Johnnie Walker’s flagship blended malt brings together a superior stable of full-flavored scotches, each aged for a minimum of 15 years. It’s a medium-bodied malt that yields aromas of coffee and roasted grain before revealing a pleasant nuttiness on the palate. What it wants in a pizza is a sophisticated rendering of earthy, slightly bitter goat cheese, melted under a torrent of warmed, cracked walnuts. Eat, sip, and repeat as needed.
Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old With Hawaiian Pie (Ham and Pineapple)
This age statement expression from Johnnie Walker is an especially elegant sipper with alluring tropical notes. “It has this waxy pineapple flavor, which comes from the Clynelish distillery,” adds Morgan, referring to the legendary Highland producer which forms the heart malt of the blend. “The grilled pineapple on this pizza will mimic those flavors in a meaningful way.”
For vegetarians, Morgan recommends subbing out the swine in favor of Vidalia onion jam, honey, and Calabrian chili. It’s a tried and true trinity of sweet and spice to echo the tonalities present in the whisky’s elongated finish. Says the expert: “Make sure each flavor gets a chance to shine as everything should be there to add to the overall flavor journey.”
Johnnie Walker Blue Label With Arugula and Blue Cheese Pizza
As a professional tour operator in Scotland, Ross Corcoran encounters the full breadth of his country’s flavors like few else. Along the way he’s had the pleasure of convincing many a skeptic of the Scotch and pizza phenomenon, using a great number of permutations. His favorite is built upon the ultra-premium Blue Label expression. It’s a particularly personal affair.
“I am fortunate enough to travel to all corners of Scotland and love to match that with venturing to the four corners of Johnnie Walker in Clynelish, Cardhu, Glenkinchie, and Caol Ila,” explains the co-founder of Lang Atholl Tours. “These producers provide our guests with some of the best distillery tours in the world. Johnnie Walker, for its part, manages to bottle it all — encapsulating the essence of our country for over 200 years.”
In terms of specific flavors, that means the brininess of the sea, the fresh earth of the spring meadow, smoke from the winter hearth, sweet toffee and spice from the saturated cask. Arugula and blue cheese is equipped to contain it all. “The peppery rocket [arugula] and tangy cheese pair nicely with the smoke and spice which lingers on the palate from the Scotch,” says Corcoran. “Plus, blue cheese and Blue Label? It’s almost too perfect.”
Johnnie and Ginger with Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Please don’t think we’ve forgotten about the cocktail aficionados out there! A classic Scotch preparation can also work wonders alongside a properly topped pie. And there’s perhaps no more classic Scotch mixer than Johnnie Walker and Ginger.
Whether you’re using a more traditional ginger ale, or a punchier ginger beer, there’s guaranteed to be some degree of quaffable spice involved. That will discover its ideal foil against a peppery, slightly piquant slice of pizza. We recommend a well-dressed buffalo chicken number, where the tang of the sauce and the chew of the protein form a platform upon which the cocktail can both dance and quench in successive turns.
If you really want to level-up your pairing game, try scoring a haggis pizza to back your Johnnie and Ginger. This isn’t something you can easily procure outside of Scotland, of course. Even there it’s a bit of a challenge. So if you manage to deliver the goods Stateside, please be sure to invite us over for dinner!
This article is sponsored by Johnnie Walker.