Cake And Whiskey: A Match Made In Boozy Heaven

There are basically two kinds of people in this world: Those who like whiskey and those who do not.

I do not.

I want to. God, I want to. I’ve had so many friends be like, “Oh try this one, you’ll love it.” And then I don’t.

It’s not like I don’t like all whiskeys. There are a few sweeter ones I can do and will enjoy, but when I’m going for booze, I always go with something like gin or rum. Mmm, rum. Or, honestly, really, no booze at all. I’m a much bigger fan of the eats than the drinks, and if you’re ever going to offer me a chance to try a bunch of different spirits or a bunch of different food items, dammit, I’m going food items every single day.

But why choose? And in fact, why not even go a step further: combine the two for all the joys for all.

This is what my friend Kelli did when she invited me down for a cake and whiskey pairing. And it was glorious.


The invite to this joyous event simply said this:

Whiskey and chocolate cake are two of my favorite things — and they go surprisingly well together! I’ll be teaching a little whiskey class where we’ll taste and learn about four whiskeys and pair them with chocolate cake. Then we’ll vote on our favorite pairing.

How could I say no?


We arrived at her building and rode the elevator up 42s to a private white-walled dining room overlooking the city.

I’m not sure if beautiful views make a whiskey taste better, but goddammit, it didn’t hurt.

On each seat. was a sampling sheet with space for notes that Kelli had put together. Although, honestly, I think I wrote down one word the entire time, and that was “Caramel.” (Solid word if I don’t say so myself).

However, I did love learning about the flavor profiles of each drink as we went along, and some of them were straight up nuts. Who knew a whiskey could smell like “wet stones” or taste like “Juicy Fruit.”


Kelli, who is President of Women Who Whiskey’s Chicago Chapter in her spare time, knew her stuff.

We learned about what makes a bourbon a bourbon (it’s five things: “For a whiskey to call itself bourbon, its mash, the mixture of grains from which the product is distilled, must contain at least 51% corn. The mash must be distilled at 160 proof or less, put into the barrel at 125 proof or less, and it must not contain any additives. The distillate must be aged in a new charred oak barrel.” – Mentalfloss).

We also learned about how to smell, taste and add water to whiskey to get the best sensations. It was a lot of sampling, sipping and more sampling for the ones we liked.


So, which whiskeys did we sample? Why, we tried:

  • Michter’s US*1 for Bourbon
  • Lot 40 for Rye
  • Glendronach 12 for Scotch
  • High West Campfire for the blend

All different, showing the fun variety of taste in the spirit.


And yes, cake.

Kelli had won a beautiful cake from ECBG Cake + Pastry Studio and it was gorgeous just to sit and there and enjoy by itself.

However, paired with the whisky, it did indeed bring out some flavors that I was not expecting.

I could have done this all day, and really, I did.


Finally, a word straight from Kelli:

I wanted to do the whiskey and cake pairing party because they are two of my favorite things and they go surprisingly well together… but not many people realize that. I also wanted to introduce people to different styles of whiskey with the hope that they might discover they liked a type they hadn’t had before. So not only did I want to show people that whiskey and cake make a great pairing, my own personal curiosity was to see which type of whiskey paired best with chocolate cake.


What did I learn? Well, turns out the High West Campfire blend, for me personally, tasted best with the cake, but if I was going to drink it straight, I was going with the bourbon. That being said, none of them made me change my already set-in-my-head opinion about the spirit.

In the end, sadly, I’m still not a giant fan of whisky. But I did learn that I like eating cake with whisky, and really, that made the whole thing worthwhile, right?

You can learn to throw your own whiskey and cake pairing party, straight from Kelli herself, right here.