While everyone is fretting over which bottles of wine to place on their Thanksgiving Day table, we’ve got a different boozy idea for our Turkey Day: Thanksgiving whiskey pairings. Yep, that’s right, there’s truly a whiskey out there for every dish served up on your holiday table. Of course, we love a good food and wine pairing, but for a family gathering of this epic proportion, we’re looking for something a little stronger than that bottle of red. Not only will your pairings be heavier on the booze, but the burning bite that comes along with sipping whiskey will cut through various textures and flavors throughout the meal, which can often overwhelm our palates in such a short period of time.
So how do you affordably accomplish this whiskey tasting, you ask? Have each person bring a bottle of specified whiskey instead of a bottle of wine and dessert. Place six miniature paper cups around each person’s dinner plate, writing on each cup which whiskey is in which cup; serve half- to one-ounce pours in each and get to sipping! Here are our favorite recommendations to get you started:
Turkey – Bourbon
Believe it or not, bourbon and the bird are a match made in heaven. Thanks to its aging in new American oak, the sweet, smooth flavor profiles of bourbon are ideally paired with juicy poultry. Vanilla notes and and light spicy undertones are delectable with the roasted spices of the crispy skin. Bulleit, Four Roses Small Batch, and Buffalo Trace are some of our favorite bottlings.
Cranberry Sauce – Rye
Rye-based whiskies (as opposed to the corn base of bourbon) are generally heartier and spicier than their Kentucky counterparts. The savory spice of a hearty rye whiskey contrasts beautifully with the tart sweetness of cranberry. We recommend Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye for an exceptionally smooth and spicy blend.
Stuffing – Unpeated Scotch
While we love a peated Scotch, a nice single malt with no peat is perfect for the already complex flavors of stuffing. Unpeated Scotch is dried without any smoke, presenting more grainy, barley-rich flavors — perfect for bready stuffing. Try a bottle of Auchentoshan for a triple-distilled, clean example of non-smoky Scotch.
Green Bean Casserole – Irish Whiskey
Green bean casserole is one of, if not our absolute, favorite, Thanksgiving side dish. The savory flavors and creamy texture are brought to life when served alongside an Irish whiskey. The earthy, smooth flavor profile of Irish whiskey dances beautifully with the deep, hearty flavors of the beans. Grab a bottle of Red Breast for a smooth, easy-drinking example.
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy – Peated Scotch
Finally some love for the smoke! Peated Scotch is one of our favorite whiskies — and is exceptional with mashed potatoes and gravy. The robust flavors of meaty gravy pair impeccably with the smoky goodness of a peated Scotch, all held together by the silky texture of whipped mashed potatoes. Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig are three of our favorite, easy-to-find bottles.
Sweet Potatoes – Canadian Whiskey
Generally speaking, Canadian Whiskeys tend to be lighter in style than other whiskies, making them a perfect match for sweet potatoes. Despite the term “Canadian rye whisky,” most Canadian Whiskies are actually corn- based, making them more similar in style to certain bourbons. The sweet and light-bodied flavor profile meshes beautifully with sweet potatoes, no matter how you choose to serve them. Crown Royal and Seagram’s are easy to find favorites.
Pumpkin Pie – Bourbon
End the meal just how you started — with a serving of bourbon, of course. The vanilla, caramel-like notes of bourbon play off the spicy sweetness of the pie, making this a fabulous finale to your Thanksgiving dinner. Prefer to simply drink your dessert? An Irish Cream, such as Bailey’s (in all of the many flavor offerings) is a great option. Last we heard, there’s even a pumpkin pie-flavored Bailey’s available. Thanksgiving in a bottle? Sounds good to us.