Essential life skills No 237 - how to pair whisky and cheese

Yes, you heard right. Whisky and cheese-matching might not seem the most obvious and urgent skill missing from your adult armoury but Blur guitarist-turned-cheese-man Alex James thinks differently. Here's how to try it for yourself.

"This is high-voltage, high-physics, ultra-specific stuff," says James. "There are some corking combinations out there to show what brilliant success stories Scotch whisky and British cheese are. The only way to work out what goes together is to get tasting — sometimes it’s car crash, but when it’s right it’s the culinary equivalent of a three-way." For more of James’s whisky and cheese parings, visit The Athenaeum Hotel (athenaeumhotel.com)

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Parmigiano reggiano with Aberfeldy 12-year-old
Parmesan is rich and fruity with a flaky, grainy texture. Aberfeldy has a tropical nose and a slightly spicy finish — it complements the rich flavour of the cheese and balances the best of both worlds. Parmigiano reggiano, £30 per kg at Paxton & Whitfield (as before). Aberfeldy 12-year-old, £34 at Berry Bros & Rudd (bbr.com)

Blue Monday with The Balvenie Doublewood 12-year-old
This creamy, addictive blue cheese makes the perfect foil for the gently spicy Speyside Malt Balvenie Doublewood. Flavours include: spicy orange, toffee, honey and liquorice. Blue Monday, £12.50 for 625g at Paxton & Whitfield(paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk). Balvenie Doublewood 12-year-old, £32 at Thedrinkshop.com

Cream cheese and whisky
This is the first and simplest pairing. Get a cream cheese — any kind will do — and mix in whisky to taste. Done. Simple. Serve it on crackers, on toast, or with celery: it’s addictive and impressive in almost any situation. Philadelphia cream cheese, £1.89 atSainsbury’s. Cutty Sark blended whisky, £20 at Berry Bros & Rudd (bbr.com)

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