A good bourbon or whiskey often serves as the perfect nightcap. But that delightful sipper is made even better by pairing it with something sweet and simple: vanilla ice cream. But there's more to it than simply grabbing the bottle of bourbon on your shelf and pouring it over any ice cream in the frozen desserts aisle. Nuances in both the bourbon and the ice cream you choose are important to consider in order to create the perfect pairing.
The world of whisky is a big one, and one bourbon can offer a different flavor profile than the one next to it. The same goes for ice cream, even seemingly basic vanilla. Some brands have a more robust vanilla flavor than others, and some use real vanilla beans while others use an extract (sometimes real and sometimes imitation). According to the folks making the fantastic flavors of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, pair sweeter bourbons with more intensely flavored vanilla ice cream, like ones loaded with real vanilla beans. Use lighter bourbons with ice creams that have a mellower vanilla flavor.
How To Find The Right Bourbon And Vanilla Ice Cream For The Perfect Pairing
Not all bourbons are created equal and some will be better for pairing with a sweet and creamy dessert than others. Don't reach for top-shelf bourbons to pour over your ice cream; just like making mixed drinks, the delicate and nuanced flavors of high-end spirits will get lost among the other ingredients, and that's especially true with something as rich as ice cream. But if you do want to extract some especially nice notes from this pairing, go ahead and splurge on the ice cream. Higher-quality ice creams typically use real vanilla and have fewer ingredients and additives for a purer flavor profile.
If you go for an ice cream with the intense flavor of real vanilla, find a good aged bourbon (but not so good that you should only sip it neat). The aging process of bourbon helps to create a smoother, richer, and sweeter spirit that will stand up to the richness of the ice cream. The label on the bourbon bottle should clearly state how long it's been aged, and for a spirit to be labeled "straight bourbon," it must sit in the barrels for at least two years. So, aim for a bourbon that's got at least a couple of years of aging under its belt, then pour a splash over your favorite vanilla ice cream for a nightcap that dreams are made of.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.