Matches made in whisky heaven


Pairing the right whisky with the right food is subjective. According to Hellyers Road Distillery’s master distiller Mark Littler, the emerging trend of matching food types with whiskies (or vice versa) provides no hard and fast rules.

“We all have different tastes, a different sense of smell and a different way of seeing things, it’s what makes our world interesting and involving.” Mark says that there needs to be an element of structure around determining which whisky goes best with what dish or food type. “In our case we put the whisky first by using our formal tasting notes from each varietal to steer us toward food types we believe pair up with a particular whisky.”

Here are several general whisky/food pairing tips Mark passed on, relevant to his experiences utilising a range of single malts to identify parallel food types.


  • Examine the tasting notes of the whisky. If you can’t find tasting notes on the labelling or packaging then go online, or contact the distillery to request them. Most distilleries will be happy to oblige, I know the Tasmanian ones would!
  • From the tasting notes, identify the elements that are key to the nose and palate. Words like; smokiness, citrus, dried fruit, sourdough, toasty, teacake, dried herbs and vanilla, for instance. (These sensory references are drawn from the notes of several Hellyers Road products however there are many variations of tasting notes in the market that may not be quite as helpful in this process).
  • List the key words that have been taken from the whisky tasting notes and consider food types you believe would match up with these elements of taste and nose
  • Once you have identified food types that are in harmony with the attributes of the whisky select recipes or food formats that incorporate the food type.
  • Our recommendation is to prepare several entrée size dishes and match them with the appropriate whisky. This process is really involving of your guests and a lot of fun.

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