Some interesting Balblair food and whisky pairing ideas

let’s begin

I love Food and whisky pairing, many meals out, and at home, end up being impromptu pairing occasions so when Balblair sent these recipes through I had to share with you... will be hopefully giving these a try at home over the summer too. Let me know how you get on in the comments.

Charcoal Venison Bun with Bramble

Designed to be eaten in one hand, these fluffy steamed buns turned a striking black colour with the addition of charcoal, filled with a rich and sweet braised venison reduction. A small pipette of bramble sauce is inserted into the bun to squeeze into the centre. Bun is topped with flakes of smoked sea salt.

Ingredients (makes 8)
For The Dough:
250g x Bread Flour (Sifted)
50g x 00 Pasta Flour (Sifted)
5g x Charcoal Powder
20g x Caster Sugar
14g x Dried Yeast
20g x Warm Milk
165g x Tepid Water
125g x Unsalted Butter, Cubed
Hebridean Smoked Sea Salt
For The Bramble Sauce:
100g x Brambles (Fresh or Frozen)
100g x Caster Sugar
100ml x Port
25ml x Red Wine Vinegar
1 x Star Anise
For The Venison Ragu:
350g x Diced Venison Mince
2 x Large Banana Shallot, Finely Diced
3 x Cloves Garlic, Finely Diced
1 x Fennel, Finely Diced
200ml x Sherry
100ml x Beef Stock
3g x Thyme Leaves, Finely Chopped
3g x Rosemary Leaves, Finely Sliced
1 Tablespoon x Tomato Purée
To make the dough, combine the ingredients and mix in an electric mixer, using a dough hook, until a smooth dough forms and all the butter has been fully incorporated. Cover with Clingfilm and leave to prove for one hour.

Portion the dough into eight 50g balls. Place the balls on an oiled baking sheet and cover with a clean tea towel, leave to prove for another hour at room temperature.

In a heavy-bottomed pan brown the venison mince over a high heat then add the garlic, shallots, thyme, rosemary & fennel. Once the meat has caramelised and the veg has softened, add the tomato purée and continue cooking for a minute. Add the Sherry and stock, season and reduce the heat to a simmer. Reduce until a thick consistency is achieved.  Set aside and leave to cool.

In a small pan, gently simmer all the ingredients for the bramble sauce until the sugar has dissolved and the berries have broken down. Continue reducing until it has thickened to the consistency of ketchup. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a dipping dish (or to take the dish to the next level, fill pipettes with the sauce and skewer into the centre of the buns so that guests can squeeze themselves!).

Once the dough balls have almost doubled in size and the mince mixture has cooled to room temperature, fill each dough ball with 40g of venison, pinch the edges to reform the ball shape and generously sprinkle smoked sea salt over the top.

Using a bamboo steamer, place the buns over a pot of boiling water and steam for 11 minutes. Serve immediately.

Whisky Pairing: Balblair 05 Thyme & Heather Honey Sour Cocktail

The luxurious sweetness of the venison ragù benefits from the bright tartness of this cocktail that cuts through the richness of the bun.

Pairing Two

Ham & Langoustine, Pea Ravioli, Dulse Seaweed Shellfish Broth
An elegant starter course that screams of summer and celebrates the Rolls Royce of Scottish waters… the deliciously sweet Langoustine.

Ingredients (makes 8) 

For The Langoustines:
8 x Langoustines, Peeled
4 Slices x Air-Dried Scottish Ham
For The Ravioli:
400g x 00 Pasta Flour, Sifted
6 x Large, Free Range Egg Yolks
250g x Frozen Peas
50ml x Double Cream
2 x Garlic Cloves, Chopped
10g x Marjoram Leaves
For The Broth:
8 x Large Langoustine Shells
2x Fennel, Roughly Chopped
1 x Large Spanish Onion, Roughly Chopped
1 x Head of Garlic, Halved
1 x Star Anise
50g x Tarragon
2 Tablespoon x Tomato Purée
75ml x Balblair Single Malt Whisky 2005
1.5 Litre x Fish Stock
200ml x Double Cream
100g x Dulse Seaweed, Finely Chopped
For The Garnish:
3 x Large Beef Tomatoes, Skinned, Deseeded and Finely Diced
15g x Chives, Finely Chopped
32 x Micro Basil Leaves
24 x Red Amaranth Leaves
Highland Rapeseed Oil
On the hob, start the broth by roasting the langoustine shells, along with the fennel, onion and garlic in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat. Once caramelised, pour in the whisky, bring to the boil and carefully flambé using a long-stemmed kitchen match. Add the tomato purée, star anise, tarragon and fish stock and simmer for 2 hours. Pass through a fine sieve into a smaller pot, ready to reheat. Taste, season and chill.
For the ravioli filling, fry the garlic and marjoram in a touch of oil over a low heat, in a small pan on the hob. Once the garlic has slightly browned (but not burnt!) add the cream, the peas and season. Simmer the peas until they have just cooked and are still vibrant and green. Pour the entire mix into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Check the seasoning and chill in the fridge.
Cut the slices of ham in half, length ways, and wrap each langoustine tail in a half of ham. Cover the langoustine tails and place them back in the fridge.
To make the pasta dough, blitz the flour and five of the egg yolks in a food processor until they combine. Pour the crumbly mix into a large mixing bowl and start kneading the mix together – if the mix in sticky, add a little more flour, and if the mix is too dry to come together, simply add another egg yolk. After kneading the dough for 5 minutes, it should be smooth and elastic. On a heavily floured surface, cut the dough into 2 and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out as thin as possible.
Pass the two sections of dough through a pasta machine one after the other, starting on the thickest setting and working down through the settings until the dough is as thin as a 20p coin. Lay the pasta flat on the floured surface and lightly brush one side with the remaining egg yolk. Using a small round presentation ring place eight large tablespoons of the chilled pea mix on one of the sheets of pasta and gently place the other sheet of pasta, egg side down, on top. Using a slightly larger presentation ring, cut out eight raviolis. Pinch the edges of the rounds to seal in the pea filling, whilst ensuring that there is no air trapped in the centre. Place the raviolis in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.
To serve, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. In a separate pot, on a medium heat, simmer the broth for five minutes and add the cream and the finely chopped dulse. Fry the wrapped langoustines in a pan with a touch of hot oil and a pinch of salt for one minute on each side – they should be nicely caramelised on the outside and just blushing pink on the inside. Drop the raviolis into the boiling water for three minutes, scoop out with a slotted spoon onto a clean tea towel to remove any excess moisture.
Place one ravioli in each bowl and top with one langoustine tail on top and the diced tomato and herbs round the outside of the ravioli. Finish by pouring the broth into a teapot or large jug and drizzle each bowl with rapeseed oil.

Whisky Pairing: Balblair 05
A light summery dish to go with a light, bright citrusy whisky. 05 seems like the right pairing for the seafood course.

Pairing Three

Smoked Highland Ribeye, Potato Rösti with Green Beans, Wasabi & Pickled Shallots & Brown Butter Béarnaise

A truly epic piece of meat that is a guaranteed summer barbecue showstopper. Let your guests carve at the table and get stuck into the sides family-style.

Ingredients (serves 8)
For The Beef:
1 Bunch x Rosemary
1 Bunch x Thyme
2 Heads x Garlic, Halved
2 Tablespoons x Smoked Paprika
2.5kg x Highland Fore Rib Beef, French Trimmed
For The Green Beans:
2kg x Green Beans, Top and Tailed
For The Pickled Shallots:
8 x Large Banana Shallots, Peeled and Sliced into Thin Rounds
250ml x White Wine Vinegar
200g x Caster Sugar
10 x Juniper Berries
1 x Bay Leaf
2 Teaspoon x Wasabi Paste
100ml x White Wine Vinegar
200ml x Highland Rapeseed Oil
For The Rösti:
4 x Large King Edward Potatoes, Peeled
2 x Large Egg Yolks
20g x Rosemary, Finely Chopped
10g x Cracked Black Pepper
For The Béarnaise:
300g x Unsalted Butter
120ml x White Wine Vinegar
15g x Tarragon Leaves, Finely Chopped
6 x Large Free Range Egg Yolks
The day before serving, cold smoke the beef over oak wood chips for 1 hour at 20 – 30C. Remove the beef from the smoker and place on a baking tray. Run the remaining ingredients over the beef and place, uncovered, in the fridge to marinade overnight. Make sure to remove the beef from the fridge at least 2 hours before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 190C/ 375F/ Gas Mark 5.
Lay a clean tea towel over a large mixing bowl and coarsely grate the potatoes into it and season with salt and pepper. Over the sink, twist the towel into a ball, squeezing as much moisture as possible. Mix the grated potatoes with egg yolks and rosemary. Heat up a 12-inch non-stick frying pan with an inch of oil, over a medium heat. Carefully fill the pan with the potato mix, gently pushing the mix down in the pan with the back of a spatula. Fry for 4 minutes and then place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Turn the rösti out onto a baking tray and set aside for later.
Drizzle oil over the beef, season generously with sea salt and roast in the oven for 1 hour 35 minutes.
To make the pickle liquor for the shallots, bring the vinegar, sugar, bay and juniper berries to the boil along with 200ml of water in a pot over a high heat. Boil for a minute and then remove from the heat and chill until cold enough to touch. At this stage add the sliced shallot rounds and leave to steep for at least an hour.
The wasabi dressing is simply made by whisking the oil, wasabi paste and vinegar until it combines. Taste, season and chill.
To make the Béarnaise sauce, melt the butter in a small pan over a medium heat. When the butter starts to turn a light brown, and begins to smell nutty, turn the hob down to its lowest temperature. Once the butter has entirely melted, set aside for 10 minutes so that the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pot. In a heatproof mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the vinegar and a tablespoon of cold water. Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (ensuring that the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching water). Continuously whisk the eggs until they have doubled in size and become light and fluffy. Remove the bowl from the water and slowly add the clarified brown butter whilst constantly whisking until the sauce is thick and smooth. Add the tarragon, taste and season then set aside. Do not leave this sauce for more than two hours.
Remove the beef from the oven and place back in the smoker over oak wood chips at 30C for 30 mins, allowing the meat to absorb the smoky flavour as it rests and becomes tender.
Simmer the green beans in a large pot of salted boiling water, then toss in a large mixing bowl with the pickled shallots and wasabi dressing. Serve on a large platter along with the rösti. Pour the Béarnaise into a small gravy boat then finish the dish by carving the smoked beef and placing on a large board, finishing with a sprinkle of smoked salt.

Whisky Pairing: Balblair 99

A robust piece of beef like this needs the full-bodied finish of the 99. The warmth and fruity spiciness of this whisky will complement the sweet cherry smoke of the meat.

Pairing Four

Nitro 1990 Balblair Ice Cream, Toffee Granny Smith, Banana Raisin Bread &
Salted Shortbread Crumb
Liquid Nitrogen makes this the smoothest ice cream you will ever taste… but if you don’t have any handy it works very well indeed with a traditional ice cream churning machine too!
Ingredients (serves 8)
For The Ice Cream:
300ml x Double Cream
150ml x Whole Milk
5 x Free Range Egg Yolks
2 x Vanilla Pods, Split
150g Heather Honey
50g x Caster Sugar
50ml x 1990 Balblair Single Malt
1 Litre x Liquid Nitrogen
For The Banana Bread:
570g x Plain Flour, Sifted
2 Teaspoons x Bi Carb
1 Teaspoon x Table Salt
220g x Unsalted Butter
550g x Caster Sugar
4 x Large Free Range Eggs
8 x Ripe Bananas
170ml x Buttermilk
2 Teaspoon x Vanilla Extract
200g x Raisins
 For The Toffee Apple:
3 x Granny Smith Apples
200g x Caster Sugar
1 Teaspoon x White Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoon x Golden Syrup
For The Shortbread Crumb:
150g x Plain Flour, Sifted
100g x Unsalted Butter, Cubed
50g x Caster Sugar
10g x Sea Salt
For The Garnish:
50g x Sweet Cicely, Leaves Only
To make the custard base of the ice cream, whisk the eggs and sugar until smooth, light and fluffy. In a heavy-bottomed pot, gently heat the rest of the ingredients (not liquid nitrogen). Once the custard mix has reached 82C slowly pour it into the bowl with the eggs, constantly whisking making sure the eggs don’t scramble. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Pour the chilled custard mix into an electric mixer and beat on a medium speed with a paddle attachment. Wearing the appropriate protective clothing, carefully pour nitrogen into the custard until the mix starts to thicken and set. Once set transfer the ice cream to the freezer immediately.
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 355F/Gas Mark 4.
Blitz all the shortbread ingredients in a food processor until crumbly then pour onto a clean surface and knead together and heavily flour. Roll out the dough into a sheet that is as thick as a £1 coin, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes at 180C. Once baked, leave to cool and firm up for ten minutes and then crumble into a textured rubble.
Pour the flour, bi-carb and salt for the banana bread into a mixing bowl. In an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until smooth, light and fluffy. One by one add the eggs and the bananas to the butter before adding the raisins and the flour mix. Thoroughly combine and mix in the buttermilk and the vanilla extract. Once combined, pour into a parchment lined loaf tin and bake at 180C for 45 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and cooked throughout. Rest the bread on a cake rack to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into portions.
To make the toffee apples, in a heavy bottomed pan gently bring the sugar, vinegar and golden syrup 148C on a sugar thermometer. Take off the heat and allow to settle. In the meantime, cut balls out of the flesh of the granny smith apples using a melon baller. Spear the apple balls with a cocktail stick and dip into the cooled toffee sauce, before laying on parchment lined baking tray to cool.
To serve, place a wedge of the banana bread in the centre of the plate, top with shortbread crumble and a toffee apple and a scoop of ice cream.
 Whisky Pairing: 90
The Balblair 90 says dessert all over and the flavours of honey and raisin are be directly complemented in the dish whilst the zing of the citrus character of the whisky will help cut through the creaminess of the ice cream and the butteriness of the shortbread.
Tags: Balblairdram and smokeFood and Whisky Pairing
Picture of Greg


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

You might be interested in

More from the blog

4 thoughts on “Some interesting Balblair food and whisky pairing ideas”

Leave a comment

Login / register