Why Whiskey And Coffee Play Well Together

A smooth dram of whiskey served with a side of coffee? Absolutely. When properly paired, a dram of whiskey combined with either black or creamy hot or cold coffee drinks can be a delicious spike served morning or night. Common tasting notes of the spirit — vanilla, smoke, wood, and caramel — pair well with the various flavor profiles of roasted coffee beans. And while you may be familiar with the sweetness of Irish coffee, the honeyed taste of Kentucky coffee, the richness of a classic Black Russian, or the frothiness of a whiskey sour, you may not feel the need to add much to your boozed-up cup of joe after trying a thoughtfully poured drink. 

The nuanced and layered combination of these two beloved beverages can sing: Bitter coffee is softened by whiskey's sweeter side, and smoky layers of peated whiskey can turn up the volume of a batch of roasted and brewed coffee beans. Depending on where coffee is grown and how the beans are processed, the tastes of chocolate, almond, citrus, and berry that can sit on the palate can be heightened with the right whiskey. The result? A drink recipe that is easily sippable. 

A pairing with serious potential

Not sure where to start when it comes to matching whiskey and coffee blends? When looking to pair labels of whiskey and coffee, keep in mind that both flavors and textures will come into play in your cup. Choose whiskeys that offer fruity, smoky notes, and use coffee blends that are full-bodied and round. Colombian coffee's caramel taste can complement whiskey nicely, for example, and sampling the two together can introduce tastes you may have otherwise missed. Alternatively, fruiter, savory coffee profiles lend to pairings with whiskeys that land with a bit more impact or have been aged in sherry casks. 

Once you have identified a coffee blend you enjoy, determine the tasting notes in the coffee and the elements you'd like to amplify. The whiskey you add to your drink should enhance and not distract from the taste of your finished beverage. As a final touch, experiment with various additions like brown sugar or honey sweeteners, milk or creams, and garnishes like whipped cream and powdery sprinkles of cinnamon or chocolate. With enough practice, you may feel inspired to serve smooth old fashioned cocktails with splashes of cold brew coffee to guests or find ways to sneak in a nip of whiskey into your next coffee-enhanced mocha brownies recipe.