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How to pair whisky with Chinese food the Ballantine’s way

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Here at Ballantine’s, we’re all about doing things differently. So forget wine and cheese nights. Whisky and Chinese food is where it’s at. 

Chinese food is famously complex in flavour. Sweet yet salty. Spiced yet delicate. Rich yet exceptionally easy on the palate. Sounds a lot like whisky.

Whisky is equally layered and can elevate a dish’s individual flavours, making it an excellent pairing drink for your favourite Chinese dishes. So whether you’re grabbing takeout or making a meal at home, here’s how to pair whisky and Chinese food.


If you’re tucking into a fish dish, you’ll want a drink that doesn’t overwhelm its freshness. Light dishes work best with lighter whiskies. And seafood is often on the lighter side of the menu with Chinese classics including salt and pepper squid, soy scallops and tiger prawns. 

Scottish whisky is the perfect pairing. Having come from waters that produce some of the world’s best seafood, Scotch is made for lighter bites. We’re kicking off with Ballantine’s Finest, our award-winning scotch whisky that has kept its original recipe since 1910. It’s fresh and floral finish is balanced with subtle sweet and saline notes. A true complementary profile to those seafood flavours.

Dim Sum

Dim sum dishes range in taste and style. From garlic minced pork dumplings to fluffy chicken filled buns, sesame prawn toast and rice noodle rolls. Try one of each or stick to your favourites. 

The varied flavours of these bite-sized Chinese dishes work well with both a subtle and complex whisky. If you want the dishes to do the talking, try with Ballantine’s 12 Year Old, our creamy, honeyed scotch created by our master blender. The sweet, floral notes are long lasting and refreshing, complementing the delicate flavours of dim sum.

For a bolder pairing, sip Ballantine’s Brasil between bites. Our vibrant blend of Ballantine’s and fresh lime gives this spirit a zesty, citrus tang and a soft dry finish. Perfect for elevating the garlic, ginger and spice found in each dish.

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Beef and pork dishes

Richer Cantonese dishes that contain red meat such as braised short ribs, Moo Shu Pork and crispy chilli beef are beautifully paired with more intensely flavoured whiskies. The stronger, spiced notes of a dram can exaggerate the deeper flavours of a meat dish. 

Combine wok-fried beef with Ballantine’s 21 Year Old, a rich, indulgent scotch with aromatic notes of liquorice and spice. It’s excellent on its own, or elevated in our vanilla whisky cocktail that adds a sweetened layer of complexity.

Ballantine’s 17 Year Old offers another excellent match for meaty mains. This full and complex blend has a smoky sensation and hint of smooth vanilla oak that pairs perfectly with shredded pork and sticky pork belly.

Peking Duck

Duck and fruit is an age-old pairing. The rich, soft meat works wonderfully with sweet, juicy fruits and is a classic combo across multiple cuisines. And Chinese duck dishes are no different. 

Peking Duck is a Beijing delicacy known for its crispy skin and moist, tender meat. The roasted bird is often served with a sweet plum sauce. And for that reason we reckon Ballantine’s Wild is a match made in heaven. Our cherry flavoured whisky bursts with flavours of the succulent ripe fruit to create a seriously free-spirited blend. Sip it solo or in a cherry whisky cocktail between crispy duck pancakes.

Spicy Sichuan dishes

China’s Sichuan province is renowned for its extra level of spice. Mapo Tofu, Kung Pao Chicken and numerous red chilli dishes bring the heat to those who like their food extra zingy. 

The spiciness of Sichuan dishes are a great match for whisky. The spirit’s higher ABV and complex flavours can withstand the fire whilst matching subtle layers of smokiness, sweetness and fruity notes found in the dishes.

Match your chilli rich dish with Ballantine’s Barrel Smooth, our smoothest whisky yet. Part finished in caramelised oak barrels, this whisky has a distinctly smoothing tang with notes of smoke and ripe fruit, balancing the heat of a Sichuan dish. 

If extra sweetness is what you’re after, pour a dram of Ballantine’s 7 American Barrel. This soft, honeyed scotch has notes of red apples and creamy caramel for a beautifully complex expression. If you’re a traditional bourbon drinker, this blend is for you.

Discover more ways to pair whisky with food including the best snacks to serve with scotch.

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