Food - Drink
How A Bourbon's Proof Will Change The Type Of Food It Pairs Best With
Food and wine pairing is an established practice, but pairing food and bourbon is a more recent phenomenon. Food writer Steve Coomes' 2014 epiphany when he paired Kentucky-made bourbon with Kentucky-made ham put the spotlight on the practice, and bourbon pairing has continued to develop in the years since.
A bourbon's flavors affect how it pairs with food, but a bottle's proof, or alcohol by volume (ABV), plays a major role as well. Lower-proof bourbons (below 46% ABV) pair well with lighter foods, like seafood and vegetables, whereas higher-proof bourbons (47% ABV or more) need heavier, bolder dishes like smoked meats.
As for flavor pairings, undertones of vanilla and caramel are common in bourbon, so most varieties pair well with ice creams. Foods with a high fat content are typically elevated by bourbon's alcohol level, while spicy foods do not pair as well with this spirit, since the alcohol supercharges their inherent zest and heat.