Food: Chocolate and Bourbon Pairing

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and what can you possibly give the woman that gave you the greatest gift of all?? Well, now that I put it that way, the pressure is really on!! Relax, I have the perfect gifts, yes, gifts. While flowers are pretty and smell nice, we can all agree that chocolate is hard to resist but pair it with bourbon? This is surely going to guarantee you the best kid status! And if you are lucky,but more likely because you have just become the golden child, Mom may even share!! (I really, really hope my own kids read this post!! Hint…hint)

So this past Sunday evening, I sampled four bourbons and four types of chocolate. It really took the edge off Sunday night knowing the weekend was over and I had to face another week of work, thanks to the blissful elation from eating chocolate coupled with that warm fuzzy hug from the bourbon. Your Mom will feel the same and when literature says that bourbon AND chocolate are good for you, it’s not even a question of should you? The question is when? The answer, is on Mother’s Day.


Bourbon: 3 or 4 different typesfor tasting. I used Makers Mark, Four Roses, Elijah Craig Small Batch and Eagle Rare 10yr

Chocolate: 3 or 4 Types: I used a white chocolate, a milk chocolate, and extra bitter dark chocolate and a dark chocolate sea salt caramel.

Extras: plain crackers and water to cleanse the palate


I made a little chart to write down my tasting notes since there would be 16 comments in all and it was handy to look back at. It’s also interesting to see what flavors other people tasted. I broke each chocolate into small bite size pieces and had a healthy pour of each bourbon.

1. Take a sip of bourbon #1, then a bite of chocolate #1, allowing it to coat your tongue. Take another sip of bourbon and really concentrate on what you are tasting. Sip the bourbon again.

2. Take a drink of water or have a plan cracker to cleanse your palate.

3. Repeat with bourbon #1 and Chocolate #2. Cleansing your palate after each chocolate sample.

4. Start over with bourbon #2 and chocolate #1…you get the idea.


Here are some of my thoughts, but as you know, tasting is very subjective. I know my palate is not fully developed and I am always learning and recognizing flavors I could not discern before.

White Chocolate: while I am not a fan of white chocolate, I know some people enjoy it (probably the same people that love raisins!) so I included it. Across the board, the white chocolate dulled the burn of each bourbon, likely due to the high sugar content. I wished I had a higher proof to try. The second sip got a little sweeter.

Mike Chocolate:again, slightly higher in sugar but things just got interesting. I had never really picked up on toasted, leather or tobacco flavors before. It was exciting.I also got quite a bit of smokiness.

Dark Chocolate, extra bitter (85% cocoa): I got the same leather, oak, smokiness and tobacco flavors but they were much more intense and with a couple of the bourbons, I really picked up notes of cherry.This was by far the most enjoyable pairing. I will assume the flavors intensified as this was also the highest fat content of the chocolates. I’d like to try a higher cocoa percentage the next time.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel: this was just for fun, because who doesn’t like a chocolate and caramel combo? As with the white chocolate, I found the alcohol burn was much less pronounced, if present at all and each of the bourbons tasted much sweeter, which didn’t surprise me. A delicious and pleasant pairing.

I really enjoyed this pairing and some new flavor discoveries were exciting. I’d like to repeat with other bourbons, definitely a higher proof, perhaps a higher rye content and maybe some chocolate containing toasted nuts. I’d love to hear your thoughts about your own pairing experience.

Overall, the extra bitter dark chocolate and bourbon pairing left the biggest impressionand would be my go-to from now on. I know that on occasion, while sipping a bourbon, I will reach for a piece or two of dark chocolate, savoring each flavor and maybe discovering some new flavors too.

Now go on and make your Mom happy and buy her some bourbon and chocolate. Spend some quality time with Mom and compare notes on pairings and please share with us. Happy Mother’s Day!!!


Maureen Linehan

Jordan GrigsbyComment