I spotted this window display in a local Oddbin’s store recentl. I’m very familiar with the idea of pairing up, say, wine and cheese but whisky and music seems like a fantastic idea. I’ve often thought that scotch and heavy metal have rather a lot in common – they’re both an acquired taste and each is infinitely complex and diverse. Where metal has its sub-genres, whisky has its regions though both of these tags are really only one part of the story. A Bruichladdich and an Ardbeg are both from Islay but they’re very, very different just as Enslaved and Agalloch are black metal bands worlds apart from each other.
In any case, this display is probably the first time I’ve ever seen metal recommended as an accompaniment to anything outside of a specialist record shop. Though I’m not a fan of Dimmu Borgir, I can certainly see the parallels to Ardbeg 10 Year Old – smoky, complex, powerful, not for the uninitiated. Personally I’d probably match Ardbeg to something like Bathory’s Shores In Flames. The song’s intro captures the delicacy and lightness of Ardbeg’s body and the ocean samples hint at its maritime origin. It’s all about, well, fire so that brings the smoke into it as well and the crashing transition to the main body of the song reflects the depth of flavour and the alcoholic heat. Challenging music for a challenging whisky (for beginners at least, on both counts) but a marriage made in heaven.
I’ve been trying to think of some other pairings but it’s not as easy as you might think. A delicate Lowland might go well with something melow and proggy; maybe Auchentoshan with Storm Corrosion. Something like Highland park that ticks almost all boxes, combining a little smoke and salt with herbal notes seems a good match with Amon Amarth’s melodic death metal onslaught. And what about a heavily sherried Speyside like Glenfarclas or Aberlour? Would it pair up to a full on death metal broadside from Decapitated or Gojira or something bombastic like Devin Townsend?