The Best Foods to Pair with Irish Whiskey

If you’re looking to kick back, relax, and unwind after a long day at work, what better way to relax than by pouring yourself a glass of your favourite Irish whiskey?

Whereas both Scotch and Irish whiskey are hugely popular in the UK, and indeed, all over the globe, Scotch whisky is, for some people at least, a little too harsh and has too much of a “burn”. If this sounds familiar to you, you may be better off with Irish whiskey instead.

Both these lovely wee drams have their own unique benefits and flavour profiles, yet they’re also both extremely different to each other. Irish whiskey is generally considered smoother, and less harsh on the throat than Scotch.

Because of its unique flavour profile, you may be surprised to learn that this particular tipple pairs incredibly well with a wide range of different foods, and not just dishes exclusive to Ireland either. If you want to take your dining experience to a whole other dimension entirely, here’s a look at the best foods to pair with Irish whiskey.

What is Irish Whiskey?

Usually made from unmalted barley, and with pale gold to golden amber colours, Irish whiskey is blended with grain whiskey to provide a slightly smoother, more mellow finish. Each distillery has their own unique recipes of course, but usually you can tell an Irish whiskey from a Scotch straight away.

Produced in Ireland, Irish whiskey used to be the most popular spirit in the entire world. In the late 19th century however, the industry began to decline. Whereas there used to be 28 distilleries, that number dropped to just 2 by the 1960s. These two distilleries (Old Midleton and Bushmills) were soon owned by just the one company, Irish Distillers, by the 1970s.

In 1987 however, the Irish whiskey industry slowly began a resurgence when a new distillery, the Cooley Distillery, began operating. This was the catalyst needed to help remind the world just how amazing this whiskey really is. The 1990s saw Irish whiskey take off again at an astonishing rate.

By late 2019 there were 32 distilleries operating in Ireland, with a number of others in development.

Jameson Irish whiskey remains the most popular, though with Powers, Redbreast, Tullamore D.E.W, Dead Rabbit, and countless others to choose from, Irish whiskey fans are certainly not spoilt for choice.

Despite the whiskey received, shall we say “questionable” reviews, MMA star Conor ‘Notorious’ McGregor’s ‘Proper Twelve’ whiskey has also help to introduce more people to Irish whiskey, particularly younger drinkers. For that reason, and the fact he’s got a mean right hand on him, we can’t really complain about Proper Twelve at all.

Foods to Pair with Irish Whiskey

Right, we’ve had our little history lesson and have discovered a little more about Irish whiskey, so now it’s time to talk about food and whiskey pairings.

Here are several foods that go incredibly well with Irish whiskey.

Lamb or beef curry

When eating curry, it’s often customary to enjoy a beer. While certain curries do indeed go very well with certain beers, it isn’t just beer that gets all the fun.

If you’re tucking into a fairly spicy curry with a fatty cut of meat such as lamb, or beef, Irish whiskey can actually work very well.

A mature Irish whiskey will help to ease the burn of the spices while enhancing the flavour of the curry. The richness of the meat will work in harmony with the spices and of course, the whiskey itself. This will help you to actually taste more of the spices and flavours in the curry, rather than being overwhelmed with the heat.

Redbreast 12 Year Old is a great choice for when you’re tucking into a spicy lamb madras or vindaloo, as the silky mouthfeel, baking spices, and the smoked oak works wonderfully with the citrus fruit notes of the whiskey, adding a whole new element to your curry.

Photo by Dolores Preciado on Unsplash
Photo by Redbreast Whisky

Beef stew

Sticking with the meat theme, up next we have beef stew.

Beef stew is a dish that is synonymous with the colder months of the year, and it is arguably the king of the comfort foods. It’s hearty, it’s warming, it’s comforting, and it is packed full of flavour.

If you’re tucking into a nice big bowl of warm beef stew with plenty of bread and butter on the side, a great way to add more flavour to the stew and to really enjoy each individual ingredient, is to sip on an Irish whiskey between mouthfuls.

A single pot still whiskey such as Powers John’s Lane 12 Year Old, is best for this dish, especially if you’re using fatty cuts of beef such as shin, skirt, or even Ox cheek. The dark fruit notes of this whiskey work very well with a beef stew, helping to bring out the meatiness of the beef and the sweetness of the vegetables.

Photo by Farhad Ibrahimzade on Unsplash
Photo by The Whisky Exchange

Hawaiian pizza

Okay, first and foremost, we’re firmly of the belief that pineapple does belong on a pizza, which is why a ham and pineapple pizza, also known as a Hawaiian pizza, is so incredibly popular. If you don’t like pineapple on your pizza, feel free to skip to the next food, we won’t be offended.

To help you enjoy your ham and pineapple pizza like never before, why not pair it up with an Irish whiskey such as Jameson Caskmates?

Matured in IPA seasoned barrels, the spicy notes of the whiskey and the oaked, smokiness help to work in harmony with the richness of the cheese, the sweetness of the pineapple, and the saltiness of the ham.

Photo by bckfwd on Unsplash
Photo by Jameson Whiskey

Chocolate mousse

Everybody loves a chocolate mousse, right? Well, everybody except Alan Partridge that is.

Chocolate mousse is the ultimate in decadence and indulgence. It’s light, it’s sweet, it’s rich, and it’s incredibly chocolaty.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re tucking into your mousse after an ala-carte meal, or simply enjoying it from a bowl in front of the TV, if you want to taste flavours in your mousse that you never knew existed before, go ahead and sip on a glass of Irish whiskey as you tuck in.

A special dessert deserves a special whiskey, so we’re recommending Slane Special Edition. This whiskey has dark fruit notes, with hints of creamy oats and buttered popcorn, capped off with a sprinkling of butterscotch and just a suggestion of black pepper. Delicious!

Photo by Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash
Photo by Slane Irish Whiskey

If you’re looking for an Irish Whiskey to enjoy with your next meal, or if you simply want to learn more about whiskey and food pairings in general, make sure you check out

Here you’ll find a selection of the finest whiskies from around the world, and more whiskey info than you could ever wish for. Seriously, what they don’t know about whisky/whiskey over at Great Drams isn’t worth knowing. Go ahead and see for yourself.

Tags: Best Foods Pair


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.

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