Thursday, June 28, 2012

Suggested Scotch Whisky Food Pairing: Oysters

Next time you are in a nice oyster bar, be different!  Be a little zany!  Don't ask for the standard condiments like lemon juice with shallots, or seafood cocktail sauce, and then drown that still living mollusc such that you totally disguise what you are eating.  Don't do that!  Follow these easey-peasey steps to free yourself from the social conformity that stifles your inner culinary spirit.

Step 1
Eat the first couple raw.  Savour the salinity, the brine of the ocean, the sea weed. The squishy texture, hold it and swallow.

Step 2
Now ask the barman for a bottle of Laphroaig 10 year oldLaphroaig Quarter Cask or Ardbeg 10 year old.  Hand him your credit card because he is gonna need it.

Ok!  Now that we have ripped the band-aid off, let's have some fun!

Grab a bottle of one of the aforementioned big dawg Islay malts and generously drizzle the oysters (still in the half shell) coquettishly staring up at you from the bed of ice.

Step 3
Wait fifteen minutes.

Let the Islay malt infuse your fruits de mer with its complimentary flavors of bacon, smoke, peat and sea weed.

During this downtime make friends with your barman or barmaid.  (I remember one waitress in an oyster bar in Prince Edward Island who was clad in a t-shirt that read "We shuck 'em good!"  The t-shirt made for an interesting starting point of a conversation.)  In any event, you want him or her on your side when that bill comes at the end of the night.

Drink water.  No scotch.  Drinking scotch will deaden those taste buds that you need in full working order for the heavy lifting to come.

Step 4
Your fifteen minutes of patient waiting are up, under the nervous glances of the barman who ensured his baseball bat is in reaching distance.

Carefully lift that oyster to your lips, tilt the head back, and enjoy the raw/untame/naked taste with your chosen Laphroaig or Arbeg.  Remember! Hold, savour, swallow!  Let the smoky flavors of the scotch seduce your palate.  Now delight in how those flavors embrace, meld and become one with the oyster's coy game of fleshy brine and salt.  Wow!  How's that for fun?  Let's do it again, again and again!


Jason Debly
Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2012. All rights reserved except for photographs of oysters. The first oyster photograph was taken by Aubrey Dunnuck.  Ms. Dunnuck holds all copyright to said photograph and it appears here with her permission.  No reproduction is permitted without her permission.  Check out more of her great photography at: eat.repeat.  The second oyster photograph was taken by an anonymous "David" and uploaded to Wikipedia and graciously released into the public domain.  


  1. I've often read that oysters are a good pairing for Islay whisky, but, and as much as I love sea food and Cajun food (shrimp, alligator, squid, octopus, scallops, crab, lobster, smoked salmon, etc.), oysters are the one thing that I haven't tried. For some reason I've got this mental block: when I hear the word 'oyster', my automatic reaction is a feeling of nausea...then again, we're thinking about non-UK whiskies for our next tasting, so maybe some peated Yoichi 10 with oysters would be good?

    1. I dunno about peated Yoichi 10. Not sure. If you wanted to play a safer bet than the robust Islay suggestions, you could pair the oysters with Lagavulin. Splash some of that on the oyster, give it a little time and then devour!

  2. Culinary genius, Jason. This one I'm gonna try...

  3. nice ... i have sent you a short story by email.. hopefully no offence taken .. but believe me.. you are the gatekeeper to one of men's best kept treasures..


    1. I checked my email, and didn't see it. Maybe it got sorted to the 'junk folder' automatically. I will see if I can find it.

  4. Jason, As I understand it from my shellfish loving friends (I can't eat ocean-sourced filter feeders myself, being iodine allergic), there is indeed magic to be found in this type of food and malt combination. I wish I could discover it, as I'm a big fan of even the most medicinal Islay and Island releases.