9 Different Meats and Different Bourbons to Pair Them With

Pairing bourbon with meat seems daunting, but it’s actually not as hard as it seems.



Just like wine pairing, you want to pair a lighter bourbon with a lighter flavored meat.  Basil Hayden is low in proof and lighter in flavor.  This bourbon would pair really well with most shrimp dishes.


Beef Ribs

The flavors and smokey taste of ribs pairs nicely with a bold bourbon with equal amounts of smokey notes.  Woodford Reserve Double Oaked matches these specs nicely.  The double oak adds just enough smokiness not to overpower the ribs and the mellow flavors mingle nicely together.



Similar to shrimp, chicken is lighter in flavor so it requires a lighter bourbon as well.  Maker’s Mark is a wheated bourbon which softens that taste on the pallet and will do a good job not over powering the chicken.




Salmon is a very elegant meal and is great to pair with bourbon.  If the salmon is cooked on the grill then the smokiness would pair well with a bourbon aged a bit longer than normal.  The longer the bourbon stays in the barrel the more char it picks up.  A bourbon aged about 10 years with a proof no less than 50 proof.  This proof is able to stand up to the strong flavors with the salmon and not over power it.  If the salmon is baked then you want a bourbon aged about 6-8 years.  Not too much char, but enough to give some good flavors.  50 proof would be acceptable also for this style of cooking the salmon.


Rib Eye Steak

What is better than red meat and bourbon?  I’m not really sure if anything is.  The strong flavors in a rib eye steak need a bourbon that can stand up to the flavor bomb of this red meat.  A higher proof bourbon fits the bill.  The bourbon is less watered down so more flavor is left in the bottle.  The higher amount of ethanol is able to fight against the high fat content of the steak.  Knob Creek 120 proof is perfect for this.  This bourbon is the perfect bourbon to pair with almost any steak.


White Fish

White fish is about as delicate of a meat there is.  It’s extremely light in flavor and very low in fat.  How do we pair a delicate meat with a bourbon?  You bet, a delicate bourbon.  Buffalo Trace would be perfect for this dish.  It’s lighter in flavor and the proof won’t overpower the meat.


Pork Chops

Pork Chops pack a whole lot of flavor and you need a bourbon that does the same.  4 Roses Single Barrel is a high rye bourbon and would pair perfectly with this dish.  The rye will stand up nicely to the bold flavors of the pork chops.



A good hamburger deserves a good bourbon.  With that being said, you need a bourbon who can stand up to lots of flavors.  Something that packs a bit more punch than your average bourbon.  Wild Turkey 101 is your answer.  The hamburger is about as American as you can get and Wild Turkey is the poster child for bourbon.  Very under valued, this bourbon has a higher rye mash bill and packs enough heat to stand up to just about any hamburger you throw its way.



On a hot summer day the smell of bratwurst on the grill really gets my mouth watering.  You need a bourbon that invokes the same saliva inducing reaction.  Old Grand Dad 114 is a great choice.  It’s extremely flavorful, the nose is amazing, and the proof stands strong to the big flavors of the bratwurst.

Jordan Grigsby

Growing up in bourbon country, Jordan has developed a deep appreciation for bourbon and whiskey.This isn't limited to just the fabulous brown spirit, but the historical value and cultural significance behind it.His art background has only deepened this love affair and he hopes, through his writings, you truly see bourbon as he sees it.