The Macallan Whisky & Cheese Pairing Guide

Scotch whisky is every bit as diverse, intricate, and nuanced as cheese, so it helps to know which whiskies go best with which cheeses. With that in mind, we partnered up with our pals at The Macallan to put together this definitive guide for pairing their whiskies with the best possible cheesy companions. Without further ado, we present The Macallan Whisky & Cheese Pairing Guide:

Triple Cask Matured 12 Years Old

Nose: Complex with a hint of fruit and heather honey
Taste: Soft and malty, balanced with oak and fruit
The Perfect Pair: An extra aged gouda, such as Roomano
Here’s why: Triple Cask Matured 12 Years Old’s unique and complex honey sweetness enhances the caramel and toffee notes for which this cheese is so beloved.
Also pairs well with:
– A classic Comté , such as Murray’s Comté
– A creamy cheddar, such as Milton Creamery Prairie Breeze

Double Cask 12 Years Old

Nose:  Creamy butterscotch, candied orange, vanilla custard
Taste:  Honey, spices, and citrus, balanced with raisins and caramel
The Perfect Pair: A young manchego, such as Murray’s Young Manchego
Here’s why:  This sheep’s milk cheese is rich yet mellow, cutting through the citrus and spice notes within Double Cask 12 Years Old while enhancing the notes of honey and vanilla custard.
Also pairs well with:
– A French sheep’s milk cheese, such as Brebis du Haut-Bearn
– A
n earthy, truffled pecorino, such as Murray’s Pecorino Tartufello

Sherry Oak 12 Years Old

Nose:  Vanilla with a hint of ginger and dried fruits
Taste:  Smooth, rich dried fruits and sherry, balanced with wood smoke and spice
The Perfect Pair: An aged Alpine Gruyère, such as Murray’s Cave Aged Gruyère
Here’s why:  Alpine cheese typically leads with hints of caramelized onion, roasted garlic, and sweet, nutty notes. These flavors pair particularly well with the mellow wood smoke and dried fruit notes in Sherry Oak 12 Years Old.
Also pairs well with:
– An American Alpine-style cheese, such as Jasper Hill Farm Alpha Tolman
– A Swiss Alpine-style cheese, such as Annelies or Challerhocker

Triple Cask Matured 15 Years Old

Nose:  Full with hints of rose petal and cinnamon
Taste:  Intense rich chocolate, notes of orange and raisin
The Perfect Pair: A mellow blue cheese, such as Castello Traditional Danish Blue
Here’s why:  The salty, buttery flavors found in this blue cheese provide a refined contrast to the Triple Cask 15 Years Old’s floral and citrusy notes. It’s a perfect example of opposites attracting.
Also pairs well with:
– A Bavarian blue, such as Chiriboga Blue
– A buttery blue, such as Jasper Hill Farm Bayley Hazen Blue

Rare Cask

Nose:  Vanilla, raisins, and chocolate, followed by citrus fruits and spices
Taste:  Nutty spices, tempered by raisin and citrus
The Perfect Pair: A rich Camembert, such as Murray’s Camembert Fermier
Here’s why:  This funky, bloomy-rinded cheese has sweet, floral notes that bring out the Rare Cask’s qualities of maple syrup and candied nuts. The vanilla and citrus in the Rare Cask also help to cut through the cheese’s richness.
Also pairs well with:
– A woodsy, creamy bloomy rind, such as Jasper Hill Farms Harbison
– A soft-ripened triple creme, such as buttery blue, such as Delice de Bourgogne

And just like that, you’re ready for a fine dram and its perfect partner in cheesy refinement. In terms of the best way to enjoy your Scotch: you’ll get the most out of it by sipping on it at room temperature either neat or with a drop or two of water. Ice will chill the spirit, locking up both its taste and its aroma. A tiny bit of water can act to release new properties in the whisky, but a little bit goes a long way. With stuff of this quality, its best to appreciate it in its purest form.

Slàinte mhath.

NYE Champagne and Cheese Primer

Many of our national holidays are defined by a specific food. Thanksgiving is the turkey holiday. Independence Day is the hot dog holiday. But New Year’s alone is the holiday that is defined by a drink. That drink, of course, is Champagne. Well, let’s say sparkling wine, since we cheese people can certainly sympathize with sensitivities toward the misappropriation of names with protected geographical status. You may be drinking Cava, or Prosecco, or Crémant—technically, none of those are Champagne.

The point of the New Year’s beverage isn’t about where it’s sourced from, though. It’s about what it tastes like. So long as your wine has a good effervescence to it, you’re doing it right. And since there’s so much variation in sparkling wines, there’s naturally going to be variation in which cheeses you want to be pairing with. So we’ve put together this primer as a way of discussing how to do sparkling wine and cheese pairings the right way.

Champagne Cheese Sparkling Wine New Year's Eve Party Celebration

Generally, we can break things down by level of sweetness. Take a look at the label for hints on the sugar content of your vintage. Drier wines will have the word Brut, medium-dry ones will say Seco or Sec, and the sweeter stuff will be denoted by the word Doux or Dolce. We could get into the micro-degrees on this spectrum as well, but we’ll leave that for another time. Let’s focus on those three distinctions.

If you have a Brut-style wine, you’ll want a cheese that is luscious, soft, and super indulgent. The acidity and effervescence of the wine will work to swashbuckle through the richness of the cheese. The classic pairings here are your triple-cremes: Brillat-Savarin is always a crowd pleaser, as are Delice de Bourgogne and Cremeux de Bourgogne. If you’re looking for something made stateside, New York’s Champlain Valley Triple Cream and Vermont’s Nettle Meadow Kunik are the ways to go.

A sparkling wine that is semi-dry wants a cheese that is semi-indulgent. It should still be creamy and rich, but not at such heights as a triple-creme. A Chevre D’Argental would do particularly well with a seco, as would the ever-reliable Camembert Fermier.

Sparkling wines with higher sugar contents are usually fruity and juicy. Therefore, you’ll want a cheese that goes well with sweet, fruity, berry-type flavors. There are plenty of styles that do just that. Valencay is both gooey and fudgy, with a nice bloomy rind to boot, and Taleggio works quite well if you’re looking to bring the funk. If you’re feeling indulgent—and after all, that’s the whole spirit of New Year’s Eve—Cypress Grove’s Truffle Tremor is decadent, tasty, and tasteful.

Bottle Aged/Biodynamic
Now, we did say three categories, but here’s a little bonus info for you. If your sparkling wine happens to be bottle aged, you can try opening up your selection to a broader range of flavors and textures. Bottle aged wines get fermented twice: once in the vat and then once in the bottle. That means they continue to evolve while under the cork. Often this makes for a drink that is funky and unfiltered, much like biodynamic wine. In these cases, the above rules still apply. But you can also do a big blue cheese like the holiday favorite Stilton, or go nuts with something alpine, like Annelies or L’Etivaz.

These are your rules of thumb. Again, no need to over-complicate things for your New Year’s bash—these few guidelines are all you need. Keep it fun, keep it simple, and when in doubt: the creamier the better.

Thanksgiving Cheese Board On A Dime

Quality cheese with a story to tell doesn’t have to break the bank.

Few holidays are as food-focused as Thanksgiving, and that’s one reason we love it. Another reason we wait excitedly the whole year for T-Day is that it’s all about hitting pause, taking stock, and sharing gratitude. Sure, we love Turkey and pumpkin pie as much as the next guy, but it’s the time spent with family and friends—cooking, talking, and taking stock of our lives—that makes this meal a once-in-a-year experience. Without the ritual and meaning of Thanksgiving, it’s really just a huge dinner, right?

The same is true with cheese. Recently it was suggested that the only way to avoid dropping major coin on a platter is to blindly pluck a wedge of Camembert from a supermarket cold case, bake it for a few minutes, and then plop it on a plate beside some grapes and olives. We’re certainly not knocking those pairings—and who doesn’t love warm, gooey cheese? But there’s so much more you can do without breaking the bank. And just like a holiday meal tastes better because of the history behind it, a cheese tastes better when you know its story.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a delicious cheese board that’s easy on wallet without skimping on quality, flavor, or intrigue. Now, this is just one way to do it; your options know no limits, and we’re always here to help you navigate that bounty. We will say that there’s one primary rule of thumb, and it’s a good one: the name of the game is variety. What you want is a range of flavors and textures, meant to entice and delight the senses. We happen to think this is a pretty solid guide for food in general. Imagine your Thanksgiving dinner plate: you’re probably not eating turkey with a side of roast chicken, or mashed potatoes with a fistful of french fries (though if that’s your jam, don’t let us get in the way.) Same goes for a cheese board—a good one will demonstrate cheese in its wonderfully wide-ranging glory.

And so, without further ado: a selection of beautiful cheeses that will contribute to the edible (and otherwise) bounty of your Thanksgiving table, without burning a hole in your wallet.

Camembert Fermier

At Murray’s, we like to work in order from mild to wild, so let’s start with this here Camembert. We have nothing but love for this Frenchie, and it’s been in the game for quite some time. In 1797, a woman named Marie Harel was living in the village of Camembert when, according to legend, a priest from Brie gave her the recipe for his region’s famed fromage. She took it, made it her own, and Camembert cheese was born. If Brie is the popular kid at school, Camembert is its younger sibling with artsy tendencies and more personality. Both are pudgy and gooey under their tender, downy rinds. Where Brie can be decidedly mild, Camembert is a bit more pungent, with a buttery, toasty, ever so lactic quality that guests often find themselves coming back to again and again. It’s sturdy enough for baking, if you so desire, but it’s just as much of a crowd-pleaser when you let the cheese stand alone. ($10.99/8 oz. wheel)

Young Manchego

What you might notice first about Manchego is that lovely criss-crossy pattern on the rind. This is a nod to tradition—for centuries, the cheese was formed in baskets made of esparto grass, which would imprint a woven pattern onto the outside of the cheese, then forming into the rind. It is every bit an essential characteristic of this sheep’s cheese as its semi-firm texture and nutty flavor, which provide complementary contrast to your smooshier, creamier Camembert. ($8.99/8 oz.)


And now for some wildin’. Like with many cheeses named for their place of production, Stilton must be made according to a strict set of rules. Among those rules: the cheese must be unpressed, cylindrical in shape, and feature a naturally formed rind. Oh, also, it has to, well, taste like a Stilton. Which is to say: thick and fudgy, with a velvety crumble and a mineral tang. A proper Stilton like this one will sport an ivory-colored paste and a network of blue-green veining that imparts a piquant yet sweet pepperiness. It’s a textbook example of a punch-packing party cheese—big and bold while still being easy to enjoy. ($11.50/8 oz.)


Now that you’ve got your cheese selection covered, let’s talk about dressing your plate. Maybe you’re a chutney person, or perhaps you’re partial to roasted nuts. It’s all a matter of preference. One sure thing is that it’s always a good idea to have a vessel for the cheese. Around here, we are particularly fond of Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps, which have a seed-studded whole grain flavor that works with all three of the above cheeses. For a sweet, fruity counterpoint, membrillo is always a fave. It’s dense and chewy and a little sticky, but it has the rich, deep flavor of cooked quince with a light tang from a touch of lemon juice. Lay some on a cracker, top it with cheese, and you’ve got a flavor combo that’ll win any party. (Jan’s: $9.99; Membrillo: $7.99)

So there you have it, a whopping cheese plate that’ll keep costs in check while sparing no expense in the flavor department. As we said, this is just one of any number of combos. If you decide to create your own, here’s what we suggest: go visit your local cheesemonger. Think of him or her as your personal tour guide. In the same way you get more out of a trip to a museum or an historic landmark when you have an expert by your side, you’ll get a lot more out of your time in the Land of Cheese when you have someone walking you through the context of what you are encountering. This is one of the many reasons we’re so excited to have Murray’s counters across the country. Even if you would’ve grabbed the same cheeses on your own, your guests will enjoy them all the more when you include them in the ritual and heritage behind what they are eating. That, after all, is the spirit of a holiday meal.

Happy Thanksgiving, Cheesers!

Cider and Cheese, Please!

You’ve known since childhood that “an Apple a day keeps the doctor away…” but now that you’re all grown up, you may have also discovered that when pressed for juice and allowed to ferment and age, apples can become just what the doctor ordered!  We’re talking, of course, about cider, that underappreciated cousin of beer and wine that shows up in force at bars and bottle shops this time of year, announcing to all that Autumn is here. 

At its simplest, cider is nothing more than the juice of pressed apples, fermented by the yeasts native to apple skins.  It has a long history in the United States, going back to the first English colonies, and was more commonly consumed than beer in the years before the German and Irish immigrant populations and their beer brewing traditions became fully incorporated into the American melting pot.  Nearly wiped out entirely by Prohibition, cidermaking has seen a renaissance in the last 40 years in parallel with craft brewing, winemaking, and artisan cheesemaking.

While we might associate ciders most often with the autumn colors of New York and New England, they are produced throughout the year and around the world, from the warm and wet English West Country; to the rolling fields of Normandy and Brittany; to the rustic, rugged mountains of the Basque Country.  These regional ferments evolved in response to the same geographic, economic, and cultural constraints as the cheeses consumed in their vicinities, and as such make brilliant terroir pairings.

We’re delighted to share a flight of cheese and cider pairings from three esteemed cider and cheese producing regions, so that you can break free of the repressive stranglehold Pumpkin Spice has taken upon our society, and celebrate fall with the simple bliss of a classic harvest beverage.


Cidre Bouché 2016 Unfiltered Hard Apple Cider

Domaine Dupont (Pays D’Auge, Normandy, France)

From a region of apple growers influenced by their winemaking countrymen to the South comes this crisp, elegant, pleasantly sweet unfiltered Apple Cider; a perfect complement to its Norman counterpart, Camembert.

  • Deep amber-bronze color and a clean nose with subtle citrus and berry notes
  • A creamy mouthfeel, with rich, velvety effervescence like cream soda
  • Its flavor profile is a rounded, focused sweetness reminiscent of red grapes. It makes its presence known right away, and then recedes, making room for powerful brine and cooked broccoli flavors of farmstead Camembert

PairingsMurray’s Camembert; Murray’s Brie Fermier; Jasper Hill Moses Sleeper


Shacksbury Dry Hard Apple Cider

Shacksbury Cider (Vergennes, Vermont)

This light, tart, rustic cider is a cocktail of 10 distinct heirloom apple varieties grown in Vermont and England, fermented in part by yeasts native to the apples themselves.  Aged over six months, its sweetness is present but dialed back, laying the stage for firm, lactic, tangy cheddar to work its magic.

  • A pale yellow color, with yeast and funky barnyard aromas
  • A light, smooth, clean mouthfeel, punctuated by large bubbles
  • Dry, as its name suggests, with a prickly tartness, it is a wonderful complement to the tangy fruit and sweet cream notes in its Vermont counterpart, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

PairingsCabot Clothbound Cheddar, Murray’s High Plains Cheddar, Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve Stockinghall Cheddar


Byhur “24” Sidra Apardunia

Astarbe Sagardotegia (Astigarraga, Basque Country, Spain)

An intensely dry bubbly with a hint of bitterness, produced from two proprietary apple varieties on a 450 year old estate in the heart of Basque cider country.  Pairs wonderfully with Ossau-Iraty, or as a substitute for Champagne alongside a decadent a triple crème.

  • Dark, yellow-orange color and clean, tart, green apple aromas
  • Light and crisp on the tongue, highly effervescent, and as dry as they come
  • With a balanced flavor profile, long finish, and slight hint of bitterness, it showcases the complex sweet, savory, pecan, and lanolin of Ossau-Iraty and other rich Basque sheep’s milk cheeses.

Pairings:  Ossau-Iraty, Pyrenees Brebis, Roncal, Nettle Meadow Sappy Ewe, Brebirousse D’Argental, Cremeaux de Borgogne

Written by: Tyler Frankenberg, Murray’s Cheese

Camembert is Here to Stay

Bloomberg seems to think that Camembert is going extinct – not if we can help it! While it’s all but impossible to find a raw wheel of French Camembert here in the United States, Murray’s has your back. We’re glad Bloomberg mentioned our Murray’s Camembert – pasteurized but just as delicious as the French fave from across the Atlantic.

Domino is worried about a Camembert shortage as well. Luckily, our expert cheesemongers were there to help the Camembert-lovers to some great alternative cheeses to get their fix. From Bries to Harbison and American Camembert’s, we’ve got a cheese to fix your Camembert-craving!

Want to learn more about Camembert, its history, and the best ways to enjoy it? You can find out a little bit more in our Camembert feature!

“When you think of French cheeses, we wouldn’t be surprised if your mind immediately went to Brie. It is, after all, one of the oldest cheeses to survive over the years and make it onto your cheese plate. But if we’re being honest, we’re enamored with Brie’s younger brother – a farmhouse Frenchie with the earthiness and toastiness that we love in a spreadable French cheese: Camembert!”