The Sharp Cheese You Should Be Pairing With Buffalo Trace Bourbon

The Venn diagram of bon vivants and gourmands is, more often than not, a circle. If you have a passport to both realms, allow us to turn you on to the legendary bourbon and cheese pairing that is Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and sharp cheddar. Both the bourbon and the cheese are nutty, rich, and robust. The cheese's sharpness matches the liquor's boldness, and when paired together, the duo balances each other's piquant flavors.

Buffalo Trace is made from a blend of dent corn, rye grains, and malted barley, which then get fermented for three to five days, double-distilled, and aged in charred American white oak barrels for a minimum of eight years. The resulting bourbon totes a 45% ABV (90 proof) and dominant tasting notes of vanilla, toffee, butterscotch, nutmeg, cinnamon, and candied fruit for a smooth, rich body. The second wave brings notes of molasses, leather, oak, and cracked pepper for a dry finish. It's woody, sweet, and smoky — intense without becoming inaccessible. It's also fairly budget-friendly for its quality and multidimensionality: A 750ml bottle runs for about $26.99 via Caskers.

Fittingly, sharp cheddar is similarly aged to perfection. In the cheese world, "sharp" means "aged." That mouthwatering, crave-able "sharpness" comes from maturing a block of cheese for two months to over a year, often around the nine-month mark – not quite Buffalo Trace's eight year-stint, but enough to get the job done, and done well.

Sharp cheddar makes bourbon even better

All cheeses contain some combination of milk, enzymes, bacteria, and salt, and as it ages, cheese loses some moisture, becoming firmer and slightly saltier. "Bite" is a fairly subjective descriptor, but in general, sharp cheddar cheese is tangy, acidic, and contains more bitter-tasting peptides than, for instance, mild cheddar. This matured "bite" makes sharp cheddar ideal for pairing with Buffalo Trace bourbon's barrel char and biting spice.

Play up the natural smokiness of the bourbon and pair a glass of Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey with a bubbling tureen of sharp cheddar and chorizo queso dip (and, of course, tortilla chips). Or, for an unforgettable dinner party, you could put out trays of pesto and sharp cheddar stuffed mushrooms, sharp cheddar and spiced pear tartlets with fresh thyme, and French sharp cheddar gougères.

You could assemble an elaborate charcuterie spread with complementary snacks to make the Buffalo Trace pop, like cubed sharp cheddar, funky Soppressata, red apple slices, summer sausage, mortadella, cashews, seedy crackers, pickled peppers and olives, cream cheese, hot honey, and red pepper jelly. Sharp cheddar pimento cheese dip with garlic and smoked paprika would make a natural fit. Or, for an elevated entree, try making sharp cheddar-crusted chicken tenders with creamed corn and grilled asparagus. Want to stir up some lunch break envy? Lean into the bourbon's sweet-smoky profile and pair your Buffalo Trace with a sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwich with blackberry jam and crispy bacon.