These Booze-Spiked Cheeses Are A Pairing In Themselves

One of the few things I enjoy more than a strong drink is a strong cheese. When you mix the two together, you get what I like to call "fermented ecstasy." There's cheese that's bathed in beer, wine and spirits? Many cheese lovers are familiar with washed rind varieties, where the rind of the cheese is infused with alcohol, but I'm after flavors with a little more complexity than a mere beer-brushing. I want ripe French cheese oozing with brandy. Cheddar dripping in Irish whiskey. Goat cheese staggering around with a wine buzz exactly like this. Here are three alcohol-infused cheeses that make for extra-efficient drinking snacks.

1. Kerrygold Aged Cheddar with Irish Whiskey

Kerrygold consistently produces exceptional hard cheeses you can still find in a supermarket. This variety pops with complex flavor from the Irish whiskey blended with the cheese curds prior to aging. It's not quite chasing a shot of Jameson with a slice of cheddar (I know I'm not the only one who does this), but there is a distinctly smooth, malty whiskey flavor on the intake that morphs into a pungent, grainy sharpness. The aftertaste lingers on the back of the tongue and begs the culprit for another slice. Or shot.

2. Cabra Al Vino

Despite being snowy white in color, this young, semi-firm goat cheese spends a few days curing in full-bodied, deep-red Doble Pasta, a Spanish wine fermented with double the amount of purple grape skins — hence the attractive violet-hued rind. Cabra Al Vino, or Drunken Goat, is delicate and mild with hints of fruit and a little smoke on the finish, perfectly silky as it softens. Sadly, I don't feel a buzz yet — this cheese falls a little short on the alcohol flavor scale. And switching back to whiskey after wine is a bad call.

3. Époisses Berthaut

Don't be fooled by the smell, which is slightly more appealing than a Frenchman's foot after biking back from le fromagerie. But for real, this soft, ripe cow's milk cheese has been a French favorite for over 500 years and there's a good reason: the process ends with a bath in apple brandy, specifically Marc de Bourgogne. The tender, runny cheese begins surprisingly mildly, despite the intense aroma. Slightly bitter and earthy on the finish, this cheese is really pleasant paired with booze of any kind, which I regret to report will probably be necessary as there's no real detectable brandy flavor.

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Photos: pinprick and shawnzrossi on Flickr