What Could Be Better Than Butter and Whisky?

- by Selena Ricks

"What butter and whisky will not cure, there's no cure for."  - Irish proverb

About two years ago, I had my first fat-washed cocktail, a butter-infused concoction made by NYC mixologist Maxwell Britten made with Highland Park whisky (see recipe below). Fat washing is a method that infuses all the flavor of a fatty ingredient (butter, bacon, cheese, etc.) with alcohol. After cooling the mixture in a refrigerator, the fatty portion floats to the top and can be easilly removed, leaving behind the taste but not the grease.

With Maxwell's drink, I vividly recall how the salty, savory, and tongue-coating qualities of butter blended perfectly with the whisky's spicy finish - not to mention the zing of ginger from Domaine de Canton. This got me thinking about how whisky, both single malts and blends, can complement certain foods beyond the usual wine or beer pairings.

I have attended several whisky dinners, and although some whisky lovers will argue that the spirit should be sipped on its own, I find that fatty, buttery foods work well with whisky's spicier notes. And you can always add a splash of water to make some whiskies more palatable.

For lighter, aromatic whiskies, such as Dalwhinnie 15 or Compass Box's Asyla, pairing ideas include soft cheeses such as goat cheese or brie, ceviche, sushi, mussels in butter, sauteed mushrooms, creme brulee or bread pudding. For medium-bodied whiskies with some peat notes, such as Highland Park 12, try smoked trout, oysters, octopus salad, pate, bacon-wrapped scallops, haggis or blackened catfish. For full-bodied whiskies with some sherry notes, such as The Macallan 12, or the more plum-forward Hibiki 12, pair with seared steak, rack of lamb, grilled or fried squid, or dark chocolate. And for peppery peat-influenced whiskies, such as Talisker 10, pair with smoked almonds, Roquefort cheese, aged gouda and 85 percent cocoa dark chocolate.

These are just some suggestions from me - every whisky drinker has his or her own preferences. The important thing is to keep an open mind, educate your palate, and most of all, enjoy!

Gingerbutter Collins
by Maxwell Britten

  • Fat-Washed Ginger Liqueur:
    • 6 tbsp. salted butter, melted
    • 1 bottle Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
    To Assemble and Serve:
    • 1 1/2 oz. Highland Park 12-Year Single Malt whisky
    • 3/4 oz. Landy VSOP Cognac
    • 3/4 oz. fat-washed ginger liqueur
    • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
    • 1 tsp. amber agave nectar
    • 1 twist lemon


For the Fat Wash:

Combine the butter and the ginger liqueur; refrigerate for 30 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter and reserve.

To Assemble and Serve:

Combine the whisky, Cognac, ginger liqueur, lemon juice, honey, and ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.