How To Pair Bowmore 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky And Oysters - The Whiskey Wash

How To Pair Bowmore 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky And Oysters

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a sample by Bowmore. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this article.

Bowmore has partnered with Taylor Shellfish Farms to bring a new level of experience to the whisky enthusiast. I have been enjoying oysters with scotch for some time now, but I have not paired the Bowmore 12 with them before. Taylor Shellfish handpicked Shigoku, Pacific, and Kumamoto for this pairing. Virginica oysters were part of the original lineup, but there was a heartbreaking die-off. If you can get a hold of Virginicas, by all means go for it!

Taylor Shellfish Farms created Shigoku oysters a little over ten years ago. They are deep cupped, and because they are tidal tumbled, they have smooth edges along the shell. Shigoku means “ultimate” in Japanese, and many people seek out these Pacific Northwest for their ultimate flavor.

Pacific oysters are native to Japan, and they take about a year to year and a half to mature. Because of their maturation time, they are some of the most sustainable shellfish to cultivate. Pacifics can come in a variety of sizes, and will usually have tiny mussels, barnacles, or tufts of seaweed stuck to their ruffled greenish grey shells.

pair whisky and oysters

12 year old Bowmore Scotch whisky and oysters (image via Courtney Kristjana/The Whiskey Wash)

Kumamoto oysters are so distinct that they remain a highly sought after and popular oyster. However, not many cultivate Kumamotos because of their slow growth. The oysters have beautiful fluted and sculptured shells. Don’t be fooled by their small size, they are deep cupped and house some big boys.

It’s hard work to shuck a dozen oysters, but it is well worth it. To shuck an oyster, grip in one hand, either gloved or with a towel, with the flattest part of the oyster upward. Prop the shucking knife into the hinge with enough force until you feel a pop. Taking the shucking knife, scrape along the top of the shell to release the oyster, then do the same to the bottom of the shell.

To enjoy the pairing of these oysters with the Bowmore 12, I recommend the following setup: a neat dram, an atomizer to mist, a dropper or straw to flood, or a mignonette sauce (see below for recipe). During my experience, I found that I preferred each oyster with a specific method using the Bowmore 12.

For the Shigokus, I loved them drowned in just the Bowmore 12. The brininess and oceanic flavors are powerful, so the Islay Single Malt not only subdues this, but the smoke and fruitiness compliment the oyster well. Because the Pacific oysters are meatier and tougher in texture, I ate these with a Bowmore 12 mignonette sauce. The oyster is semi-sweet but has a lot of umami flavor, so it just needed something a little more than what the Bowmore could provide solo. With the creamy Kumamotos, the Bowmore 12 is just too powerful for these delicate oysters. This is where an atomizer, or mister, comes in handy. A couple of sprays of the Bowmore 12, allows for the heather and smoke to touch the oyster without distracting from the delectable flavor of the Kumamoto.

For your enjoyment, I demonstrate above how to shuck an oyster and how to pair with the Bowmore 12.

Bowmore 12 Mignonette Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Bowmore 12
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 minced shallot

In a small sauce pan, bring ingredients to boil. Remove from heat. Be sure to let the mignonette sauce fully cool before pairing with oysters…you don’t want to cook them!