Cheese lovers: These cheese and spirit pairings will delight you and your guests

“Pairing cheese and spirits is a way to surprise and delight guests, allowing them to experience even familiar cheeses in a new way”

Move over beer and wine, there’s something else to enjoy with cheese. Complex and nuanced spirits pair beautifully with many cheeses. Whisky Advocate magazine points out that “whisky really is an ideal accompaniment to many cheeses, in some cases superior, even, to wine or beer.” According to Charles Duque, Director, The French Dairy Board for the Americas, “Pairing cheese and spirits is a way to surprise and delight guests, allowing them to experience even familiar cheeses in a new way,” noting that the right Bourbon or Cognac make excellent cheese partners.

Here are some top spirits and cheese pairings:

Bleu d’Auvergne & Pear Brandy

Some cheeses are washed in brandy, so it should come as no surprise that they also pair well with it. The pungent flavor and luscious creaminess of Bleu d’Auvergne marries well with fresh pears as well as a smooth and fruity pear brandy. A good option is one from Clear Creek, which is based on the French style Eau de Vie de Poire William.

Camembert & Single Malt Whisky

Camembert is buttery with notes of mushroom on the back end that Duque notes complement Ardbeg 10, a single malt whisky that beautifully balances the sweetness of malt and the smokiness of peat. The creaminess of the cheese is a great foil to the whisky, especially when a small amount of water is added to the single malt to open it up.


Époisses & Cognac

Cognac native Benedicte Hardy recommends Époisses as a perfect companion to Hardy Legend 1863 Cognac, noting, “Époisses is for the bold cheese lovers as its nose can be a little strong, but the creamy texture is absolutely exceptional. Legend Cognac with its mocha and coffee flavors completes the experience adding the right spices to the cheese. The marriage of both will leave an unforgettable memory on the lucky connoisseur’s palate who dares to experiment.”


Aged Mimolette & Bourbon

According to Duque, “Possessed of a nutty, buttery, almost caramel flavor and a texture softer than parmesan but harder than, say, a cheddar, Mimolette pairs very nicely with Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon which is fruity with hints of pear and apple that softens the saltiness of the cheese.”


Pont L’Evêque & Pommeau de Normandie

Pont L’Evêque is a washed rind that is soft and very rich, making it a full-bodied creamy cheese. Since Pont L’Evêque is originally from Normandy, a natural pairing is with Christian Drouin Pommeau de Normandie, a blend of Calvados and non-fermented apple cider. This is due to the regional connection between the two, and also because the sweet and tartness of the apples contrasts nicely with the savory quality of the cheese.

Cheddar & Rum

Caramel pairs well with itself! Aged cheddar, with its rich caramel notes, complements the caramel notes of spiced dark rum such as Myer’s Dark Rum. The richness of the rum also has other flavors including tropical fruits, smoky oak, vanilla and spice. This allows it to pair well with strong flavored cheeses like cheddar, which develops many of the same flavors as it ages.

About the Cheeses of Europe
The Cheeses of Europe Marketing Campaign, orchestrated by CNIEL (The French Dairy Inter-Branch Organization) and funded in part by the European Union, was designed to create awareness for the variety of European cheeses available in the US market and to suggest ways that American consumers can incorporate those cheeses into their diets, recipes and lifestyles. The campaign’s goal is to increase the appeal of European cheeses and strengthen their competitive position in the growing specialty cheese category.