O’Briens Wine Beer & Spirits
33 Spruce Avenue Stillorgan Industrial Park Co. Dublin Ireland Ireland
+353 1 2931040 online@obrienswine.ie Monday-Saturday 10:30am-10pm Sunday 12:30am-10pm


  • Whiskey & Food Pairing

    When planning your drinks accompaniment to your dinner menu why not consider whiskey?

    While whiskey is typically enjoyed on its own, or you may have tried traditional Irish pot still with smoked salmon, it may surprise you how versatile whiskey is. With so many different expressions and variations there is a lot to play around with when pairing with food. There is no hard and fast science to food pairing as everyone’s tastes differ however there are a few tried and trusted guidelines.

    As with pairing all food and alcohol seek to complement or contrast flavours. You don’t always try to match flavours but rather create a balance in the pairing where neither the whiskey nor food is overpowered. In general, avoid overly spicy food as the alcohol intensifies the spiciness and over powers the flavour of the whiskey. Food cooked in oil or fat works well with the heat of the higher alcohol.

    Whiskey and chocolate make a great match

    Also, think about the weight and texture of the dish, matching lighter whiskey with a lighter dish and heavier with heavier. The principles of wine matching can also be applied to whiskey pairing. Substitute white wine for lighter pot still or grain whiskeys for red wine substitute whiskeys that have a sherry cask or charred barrel influence that tend to have darker fuller flavours.

    If in doubt, there are a couple of foods that work with most whiskies. In general whiskey works well with salty foods, simple bar snacks like mixed nuts or crisps. Experiment with different flavoured crisps to see what they bring out in the whiskey. Another classic food pairing is dark chocolate, go for chocolate with a high cocoa content and rest the whiskey in your mouth allowing the alcohol to evaporate lifting the flavours before tasting the chocolate.

    Here are three of my own pairing favourites.

    The sweetness of the sherry maturation makes Black Bush a great match for red meat like venison or steak. The heavier body of sherry cask whiskies compliments more powerful flavours of meat dishes, while the addition of some grain in this blend adds a little lightness and makes it a little more approachable. If you are preparing a sauce add a small dash to create synergy.

    The Whistler 10 year old again has sherry cask finish but longer maturation in ex-bourbon. The earthy, savoury and hint of saltiness works well with lighter seafood dishes while matching with dark chocolate brings out the sweeter spice in the whiskey.

    Sweet and fruity grain whiskeys work well with deserts where the lighter intensity and body balances the lighter dish. However, I have gone for something a little bigger and richer with West Cork Distillers Black Cask, a blend of two thirds grain with one third malt whiskey before finishing in extra charred casks. This finish adds more vanilla sweetness to the blend that works exceptionally well with rich chocolate baked deserts.

    Hope I have given you some inspiration for your next bottle. All three of the above are included in our big Irish Whiskey Sale. We have over 40 Irish whiskeys on offer, starting March 1st.


  • ‘Tis the Saison


    Saison is a style of beer that developed over time in the Wallonia region of Belgium, brewed on a small scale in individual farmhouses (this is why you will sometime here these referred to as farmhouse style ales). It was traditionally brewed during the winter months and given to seasonal farm labours during hot summer months. Before the introduction of refrigeration brewing wasn’t done during the hot summer months due to the higher risk of the beer spoiling during fermentation.

    Saison as a style is a tough one to pin down. It was brewed in farmhouses across the region with each farmer brewer taking a slightly different approach to the brew or recipe. Really, it was brewed with whatever the farmer had to hand so for modern brewers there is no singular historical recipe to revive. In general, Saison is a dry pale ale with high carbonation and a light body. Some can have a yeasty character, Brettanomyces or lactic sourness or can have fruit or spices added.  Most importantly, yeast derived flavours is the hallmark of a Saison beer with a fruity and spicy complexity. I guess you just know it when you taste it.

    A perfect match A perfect match

    So why am I recommending these summer ales as we turn towards winter? Well, as it gets colder and more blustery outside my mind turns to some warming hearty food like roast chicken, roast pork or spicy sausages. Saison is such a great match for herb roast meats with the high carbonation and fruitiness freshening the palate and the spicier elements in the beer compliment the flavour of the dish. Farmhouse ales for farmhouse food.


    Dupoint Saison is great example of the style. This is the beer that popularised and rejuvenated the style in the 20th century. Light and dry with complex fruit and spice flavours.

    Grunt from Hope Beer adds lemongrass and bergamot to the brew along with some spicy Sorachi Ace hops for a fresh and spicy take on Saison.

    Those looking for a bit more new world hops in their Saison should check out Rascals Pacific Secret. Made with New Zealand and Australian hops Pacific Jade and Vic Secret (hence the name) to give a fruity, citrus and herbal hop flavour to that funkier Saison character.

    saison group 3 different interpretations of Saison

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