Ultimate Pairing: Whisky & Tea With The Balvenie

Leaves and wheat; two of our goodly planet’s finest offerings and the crucial ingredients behind humanity’s most beloved beverages: tea and whisky. While a freshly brewed pot of chai and a dram of single malt Scotch may seem worlds apart, when you really think about it, they actually have rather a lot in common. Both are harvested from the earth and undergo a rigorous process of cultivation over time to become something refined and often treated with ceremony. Beyond their mutual standing as a sip of deep cultural significance, tea and whisky pair surprisingly well together. Fusing the rugged crags of bonny Scotland with the serenity of the tea room, we explore how the two swills can interplay to deliver a rich tapestry of flavour (with full recipes below).

The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 x Jasmine Tea

Balvenie whiskey and tea cocktails

The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 is among Speyside’s most delightful smooth-sippers. At first aged in ex-bourbon casks, then finished in former Oloroso sherry butts for a further intricacy of flavour, the DoubleWood 12 presents a rich and chocolatey palate with stewed fruit, cracked black pepper, and a lasting finish of cinnamon and cake.

Pair with a jasmine tea for a delicate balance of tannins and spice from the American oak, with a pleasing added floral dimension. Honeyed petals compliment the natural fruitiness of Speyside expressions, with a slight vegetal bitterness from the jasmine adding depth to the sweet finish of the DoubleWood.

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 x Chai Tea

Balvenie whiskey and tea cocktails

This 14-year-old expression of The Balvenie is finished in a former rum cask, which imparts brown butter, burnt sugar, dried raisin, apricot, slight pineapple, and creamy toffee vanilla notes to the deep amber liquid.

Pair with chai tea for an experience truly reminiscent of a rum cake. The bold spicy aroma of chai counterbalances the warmth and sweetness of the Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14. The Cardamom and ginger notes of the tea elevate the tropical fruit of the whisky, adding complexity and depth, with the very low astringency of the tea keeping things mellow in the mouth.

Scotland meets India by way of the Caribbean; this is a real adventure-filled flavour journey of a pairing!

The Balvenie Sweet Toast of American Oak 12 Year x Oolong Tea

Balvenie whiskey and tea cocktails

While it is very common practice for Scotch whisky to be aged in ex-bourbon barrels, The Balvenie Sweet Toast is finished in twice-toasted virgin American oak barrels from Kentucky. This creates a pronounced sweetness, as well as a deep woodsy spice. Honey, nutmeg, apples, and peaches also come through in this 12-year-old age statement sip, which is notably 3% higher in ABV than the DoubleWood, contributing to a more robust finish.

Balanced out with the notoriously creamy texture of oolong, this is quite the complex pairing. Notes of coconut from the brew soften the spice of the virgin oak, rounding out the palate to somewhere in the realms of butterscotch. Keeping pace with the dram’s fruity notes, the oolong responds with floral and peachy characteristics. Be sure to pick an oxidized oolong for the ultimate soft mouthfeel, rounding out the punchier finish to this Balvenie expression.

Whisky Tea Cocktails

Gongfu Fashioned

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Scottish Breakfast Cocktail

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Highland Dragon

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Pairing whisky and tea side by side is enlightening, but for a real flavour sensation, why not try blending the pair in a well balanced cocktail?

Cheers, and happy sipping!