What A Bourbon Expert Loves To Pair With Lobster And Crab

The classic drink pairing for seafood may be white wine, but what about those of us who prefer drinking something with a little more bite? After talking with Chris Blatner, founder of UrbanBourbonist, we discovered that bourbon makes a surprisingly good match for both lobster and crab if you know what to look for, which is great news for the whiskey-drinking, lobster-loving sailors-at-heart in your life.

"Lobster and crab are typically lightly sweet with a touch of salt. I like to pair them with high-rye bourbons that have a rye content of at least 20% in their mashbill, but the higher the better," Blatner told us. A typical bourbon will have around 10% to 15% rye in the mash bill. Once it reaches past 20%, it enters high-rye territory. Some bourbons will display on the bottle itself that it's a high-rye bourbon. With others, you may have to do a deeper dive before you discover that it is a high-rye bourbon — not to be confused with a rye whiskey, which contains at least 51% rye in the mash bill.

"The rye grain will bring some bolder spice and pepper notes to contrast the sweet flavors of the lobster and crab," Blatner continued. "But the still considerable corn content will also offer some sweet notes that will work in tandem with the flavors of the seafood." The important part is balancing flavors and finding notes that bridge the gap between the bourbon and the food.

Craving crustaceans

This pairing will work best if you are cooking the lobster or crab without too many other flavors added in. While trying out different recipes would be fun and delicious, you may accidentally throw off the flavor profile that you were initially trying to pair your bourbon with. A good recipe would be something like buttery lobster tails more so than a Cajun gumbo, for example.

The same goes for the bourbon. Not all high-rye bourbons are exactly alike, and you may be surprised to discover flavor notes in one that aren't in others you've tried. It's not worth stressing yourself out about getting the perfect high rye for the job, but some will almost certainly work better than others. Four Roses Small Batch is a good place to start. It's readily available, decently priced, and is a great bang for your buck. Redemption High Rye and Old Grand-Dad are likewise easy on the wallet and smooth on the palate. No need to take our word for it, though; shop around and try new whiskeys until you find one you love.