I once had the pleasure of Shucking oysters for Michael Jackson (not the singer songwriter, but The BeerHunter and Whisky writer) on one of his Book tours, back in the day.
He signed my book, “Try Oban and Oysters!”I didn’t think much of it at the time as I felt it a strange pairing. Oyster were to have “soft and citrus” alcohols - Wine, beer…Who’s going to drink whiskey with oysters?
It wasn’t until a few years later when I was traveling in the Isle of Skye - off to visit the Talisker distillery. I pulled up into the parking lot I noticed a sign that stated distillery to the left Isle of Skye Oyster farm to the right, 200m apart. As as I stepped out of the car across the wee bridge to traverse the spring water stream from up the hill, I realized that the same spring water that is uses to distill the Whisky also sweetened the salt water of the Bay, to provide a perfect balance for Oysters. The oysters and the whisky share the same environment, which would then make a great pairing.
When I got back to my pub The Ceili Cottage, I set up a supply of oysters from Ireland, France, Scotland, and England. Once I had those oysters in front of me, I pulled down the matching Regional Whiskies. English whiskey for an English oyster, French whisky for French, Scottish whisky for a Scottish oyster oyster and to Irish for the two Irish oysters. (Details at www.shuckerpaddy.ca)
I started experimenting. When you put sauce on oysters, one generally pours the sauce on top, over the oyster and you then eat the oyster. I tried putting whiskey on top of the oyster. The whiskey was over powering, the oyster did not come through and it was not the greatest combination.
The way I like to showcase oysters the best, is to have them without any sauce at all. To enjoy the Merroir - the true flavour of the region where that oyster came from. I tried having the oyster first, and then sipping whiskey afterwards. Now that flavour combination was fabulous, and I took it back one extra step.
There’s enough oyster liquor (which is the clear liquid of the oyster inside the shell when the oyster is removed) residing inside the shell of the oyster to effectively flavour anything else that gets into it. So I tipped a little bit of the whiskey into the shell of the oyster allowing that sea salt to marry with the malts of the whiskey and sipped it out of the shell. That, my friends, is the best way to enjoy and pair and oyster with the whiskey which I call - Shuck & Tipple
How to Shuck & Tipple
- Oyster first - slide the oyster in past your lips - leave a little Oyster liquor behind in the shell.
- Two bite chew & aerate - Draw a breath through the mouth, (like in tasting Whisky) to allow the palate to understand what it is tasting.
- Tipple a wee dram of Whisky into the Empty Oyster Shell, allow the Whisky to meet the Liquor
- Sip Oyster-kissed Whisky from the shell, note the flavours. (Pinky up is proper)
- Shuck and repeat as necessary
Here’s a special treat when thinking about oysters south pairing a local oyster for each state with one of their more interesting and locally thought of Bourbons. The salty sweetness of the oyster enjoyed first and followed by that classic bourbon barrel rich vanilla malts and having interesting combinations of local ingredients from each state to produce those Bourbons, Makes a pairing of note. Follow along with my Oyster South bourbon pairings and enjoy exploring the Merroir & Terroir of each state.
ShuckerPaddy’s Oyster South & Local Bourbon pairings
- To be enjoyed by Shuck&Tipple –
- Oyster first, then whisky in the empty shell and sip
1712 bourbon. 100% North Carolina corn, rye, barley.
Chadwick creek oysters
Highwire distillery. Jimmy red heritage South Carolina corn whiskey
Single Lady Oysters
Savannah 88 Lowcountry Bourbon. Sweet corn and coastal rye
Great Georgia oyster co
Saint Augustine Florida straight whiskey. Corn barley wheat.
Fiddlers point oysters
Dettling bourbon six-grain, all grown in Alabama
Murder point oysters
Rich Grain distillery. Two whiskey blend. Corn barley rye. & corn barley wheat
Deer Island oyster Co. Biloxi
Sugarfield Spirits Straight Bourbon
Shelley Farms oysters
Balconies bourbon. 100% Texas blue corn
And for the rest of the USA…
Split Rock Distilling - Organic SingleBarrel Straight https://splitrockdistilling.com/collections/spirits
Dodge Cove Marine Farm https://www.dodgecove.com Damariscotta Selects
Smoky Quartz Distillery https://smokyquartzdistillery.com/products/v5-bourbon/
Fat Dog Shellfish http://fatdogshellfish.com/?fbclid=IwAR0A__ZuJA39Z8xAZfSwAAM9StXaHJ_SHzH8g306rJWbgyO2PFky1YCr374
Silversmith Farm Distillery https://www.barrelg.in
Wellfleet Oysters https://wellfleetshell.com
Sons of Liberty - Wheated Single Malt http://www.solspirits.com/american-spirits-wheated-single-malt
Watch Hill Oysters https://www.watchhilloysters.net
Fifth Estate Distillery - Barrel Strength Whiskey https://fifthstatedistillery.square.site/product/Barrel-Strength-Whiskey/72?cs=true&cst=custom
Copps Island Oysters http://www.coppsislandoysters.com
Montauk Distilling - Tunney Bourbon https://montaukdistillingco.com/mdco-spirits/f/james-j-gene-tunney-bourbon-whiskey
Blue Island Oysters https://blueislandoysters.wordpress.com
Cape May Distillery - Back Bay Straight Bourbon https://www.capemay-distillery.com/back-bay
Barnegat Oyster Collective https://barnegatoyster.com
Beach Time Distillery - Some Beach Bourbon https://www.beachtimedistilling.com/product/some-beach-malt-whiskey/
Delaware Salts https://www.delawareoysters.com
Tobacco Barn Distillery - Straight Bourbon - https://www.tobaccobarndistillery.com/whiskies/
True Chesapeake https://www.truechesapeake.com
Chesapeake Bay Distillery - Dr.Stoner’s SmokyHerb Whiskey https://chesapeakebaydistillery.com/collections/spirits/products/dr-stoners-whiskey
Whitestone Oysters https://www.whitestoneoysters.com
Redwood Empire Whiskey - Pipe Dream Bourbon https://redwoodempirewhiskey.com
Hog Island Oyster Co https://hogislandoysters.com
Eastside Distilling - Burnside Oregon Oaked Bourbon
Oregon Oyster Co http://www.oregonoyster.com
Woodinville Whiskey https://www.woodinvillewhiskeyco.com
Taylor Shellfish - https://www.taylorshellfishfarms.com
OlympiaOysterCo. - The Oly
Wishkah River https://www.facebook.com/Wishkah-River-Distillery-181664165253619/ Bourbon to be enjoyed 2 minutes after all Olys 1/2 shells are finished - rest, contemplate Olys…..sip Bourbon
Port Chilkoot Distillery
Boatwright Bourbon https://www.portchilkootdistillery.com/#whiskies-spirits-1
Hump Island Oyster Co. https://www.humpislandoyster.com
Royal Hawaii Spirits
Kualoa Grown Oysters https://www.kualoa.com/kualoagrown/
Pairing foods just can be very fun and exciting to do with your friends, or at your next trip to the Oyster Bar. Merroir & Terroir - Choose your favourite oyster, choose your favourite whiskey - or try something new! Sláinte
Shuckingly yours, Paddy