As the ‘Omnivore’ in the name should suggest, I tend to have pretty varied interests. Of course, video games are the primary subject of this blog, I do occasionally talk about things like music, movies or coffee as well. Today, I’m trying something a little different…
In the last 5-7 years, I’ve gotten into different kinds of whiskies – scotch, bourbon, ryes, Irish whiskey, single malt, mixed, etc. There’s an incredible range when it comes to tasting notes, aging/distillation process, country of origin, and of course…price. One of my favorite ways to unwind after work or on the weekends is to pour up a glass of whiskey and then, kick back and savor while playing some games. You’ve probably come across different articles that recommend a specific wine to go along with a particular meal? Well, some time ago, for whatever reason, I started to match up specific games to a particular whiskey. I’ve selected five of my favorite games of the past few years and five of my favorite whiskies that I like to have in my regular rotation, to go with it.
…and with that, here’s the first batch of game & whiskey pairings that have been aged to imperfection in my drafts folder.
Red Dead Redemption 2/George Dickel No. 8
Genre: Open-world/sandbox, adventure
Tasting notes: “A mellow, approachable Tennessee whisky, selected for it’s smooth-sipping character. A balanced whisky with aromas of light caramel and wood. A warm vanilla finish with hints of maple and buttered corn.”
Let’s start with Red Dead Redemption 2. A rugged, Old West game like this lends itself to being matched up with a good whiskey and is the easiest to start with. George Dickel No. 8 felt like a natural pairing with RDR2 – a Tennessee whiskey that’s maybe a little rougher around the edges than some other straight bourbons, but it possesses plenty of character. The charcoal-filtering process(what defines a Tennessee whiskey) gives it an ever-so-slight “campfire” taste that, when combined with the buttery notes from the corn used in making bourbon, gives the taste of grilled corn on the cob. A nice whiskey to have next to you at the campfire or the saloon table.
God of War/Buffalo Trace
Genre: Third-person action-adventure, Hack ‘n slash
Tasting notes: “This deep amber whiskey has a complex aroma of vanilla, mint and molasses. Pleasantly sweet to the taste with notes of brown sugar and spice that give way to oak, toffee, dark fruit and anise. This whiskey finishes long and smooth with serious depth.”
God of War has been one of my favorite game series’ going all the way back to 2005. Any hesitation I had about the 2018 sequel/soft-reboot quickly subsided once I finally played the game. The story and worlds are larger-than-life,yet, nuanced with characteristically silky-smooth gameplay. Buffalo Trace straight bourbon is my pick for God of War – it’s buttery sweetness is the foundation to the subtle layers of oak and spice underneath. It’s my favorite all-around bourbon to accompany my pick for best all-around game of 2018.
Super Mario Odyssey/Jameson
Genre: Adventure/platformer , Golf, Kart Racing, RPG, Tennis, Puzzle, Fighting, Baseball, Party/mini-game(s)…
Tasting notes: “The perfect balance of spicy, nutty and vanilla notes with hints of sweet sherry and exceptional smoothness.”
Mario is as iconic of a video game character as you’ll find, so it made sense(to me, at least) that I’d pair it with a whiskey like Jameson. Over the years, we’ve seen Mario cross over into a variety of different genres – sports, kart racing, fighting, all while retaining the essence of what made Mario games so universally enjoyable . Similarly, Jameson has a level of versatility as it can be served neat, on the rocks, or in a number of cocktails(Irish Mules being a personal favorite). A classic for a classic.
Elden Ring/Ardbeg 10
Genre: Open-world RPG, Souls-like
Tasting notes: “An explosion of crackling peat sets off millions of flavour explosions: peat effervesces with tangy lemon and lime juice, black pepper pops with sizzling cinnamon-spiced toffee. Then comes a wave of brine infused with smooth buttermilk, ripe bananas and currants. Smoke gradually wells up on the palate bringing a mouthful of warm creamy cappuccino and toasted marshmallows. As the taste lengthens and deepens, dry espresso, liquorice root and tarry smoke develop coating the palate with chewy peat oils.”
Elden Ring, or really any From Software game is not for everyone. Some may be put off by the punishing gameplay, the cryptic obscurity in which the worlds and story unfold, or the developer’s, uh…passionate fanbase. In a similar vein, Ardbeg 10 likely isn’t to everyone’s taste, but those that can get past it’s seemingly impenetrable wall(mist veil?) of smoke are treated to a satisfyingly complex array of tastes and aromas that linger with you afterwards. It’s about the only substance on Earth I know of that can use “tarry rope” as a positive description…and I love it.
Death Stranding/Laphroaig 10
Genre: Action-adventure, Open-world, Stranding
Tasting notes: “Huge smoke, seaweedy, ‘medicinal’. Surprising sweetness with hints of salt and layers of peatiness.”
Death Stranding is a polarizing game. It can be an emotional masterpiece to one person, but a boring, pretentious AAA title to another. While I completely understand where those in the latter category are coming from, I absolutely loved Death Stranding and Hideo Kojima’s idiosyncratic blend of over-the-top cinematic style AND utter weirdness. Enter Laphroaig, another Islay scotch that is famous(infamous?) for it’s distinctive taste and aroma. As with Death Stranding, I understand why it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but personally love the way all the different notes and flavors are intertwined, making something so almost-indescribably weird. “Like drinking a glass of sea water while next to a campfire on the beach” may be my favorite description of my favorite whisk(e)y…weirdly enough. Both Laphroaig and Death Stranding are a perfect pairing…as well as prime examples of taste being completely subjective.
If you enjoyed this, I also recommend checking out McKenna Talks About Games’ series of blog posts pairing a different wine with each Zelda game. Do you have any particular beverages, distilled or not, that you like to have on hand while gaming? Cheers! and thanks for reading!