5 Bourbon Pairings For Thanksgiving

How To Pair Bourbons With Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a great time to eat, drink and be merry with friends and family. For bourbon drinkers it also caps off some of the best bourbon releases of the year (unless you’re in FL or some other unlucky states like me). But, how do you work bourbon in to your Thanksgiving? This post is not about bourbon recipes but rather bourbon/whiskey pairings to enjoy with your Thanksgiving feast.


The pre-meal bourbon is for drinking while you’re cleaning the house and getting the food ready. More importantly, it’s the social lubricant you need to spend the next 4-6 hours with your in-laws or crazy uncles. That is why the pre-meal bourbon needs to be something that has a high proof but mellow enough to drink in the AM. For the pre-meal bourbon I suggest you reach for Old Gran-Dad Bonded. This bourbon will get your day started in the right direction.

Thanksgiving #1


Depending on the culinary prowess of your family appetizers can be a gamble. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with buying good cheese and throwing crackers around it. Since there’s an array of options in the appetizer category we need a bourbon that pairs well with almost anything. Pour yourself a glass of Elijah Craig 12 year for the appetizer portion of your Thanksgiving meal. This is really an indication of how good EC 12 is. No matter what first course curve-balls your family throws  at you EC 12 is there to field them with ease.

Thanksgiving #2

Sweet Potato Casserole

This is one of my favorite sides so it deserves something that sweet, rich with a lot of spice. Sweet potato casserole will pair perfectly with Wild Turkey Rare Breed. Rare Breed hits a lot of the same flavor notes as sweet potato with distinct pie spice notes on the nose. Plus, there’s no other bourbon that belongs on than Thanksgiving table more than Wild Turkey

Thanksgiving #3


There are a few bourbon choices for the turkey based on what part of the bird you’re eating and the preparation of the bird. First, let’s talk about meat selection. If you were able to grab the dark meat, consider yourself lucky, and then pour yourself a glass of Buffalo Trace. If you’re were stuck at the back of the line and left with only white meat your turkey has basically become just a vehicle for transporting gravy. Because of that we need to increase the flavor with our bourbon choice. For white meat, pour yourself a glass of Four Roses Single barrel.

Finally, if your Thanksgiving turkey includes an alternative preparation method like smoking or frying you’ll want your bourbon(whiskey) choice to take advantage of  this. For a smoked or fried turkey pour yourself either High West Campfire or Corsair Triple Smoke.

Thanksgiving #4


If your Thanksgiving dinner is anything like mine there are usually more desserts than side dishes. You need a whiskey that will pair with everything from pumpkin pie to chocolate cake. High West Midwinter Night’s Dram is the perfect whiskey to pair with dessert. High West took a rye whiskey and aged it in port cask and then French oak. There’s a ton of flavor with a lot dark fruit and almost chocolatey port notes coming through. If you’re not able to find a bottle of the Midwinter’s Night Dram you can substitute with a bottle of Angel’s Envy Rye. The AE rye has been aged in rum barrels but still has a high level of sweetness that’s needed in a dessert whiskey.

Thanksgiving #5



Some may disagree with the addition of salad to a Thanksgiving meal. You’re not a caveman. There’s nothing wrong with adding leafy greens to the meal especially when the salad is paired with Bulleit Rye whiskey. This rye whiskey is minty with some vegetal notes and pairs nicely with a salad.




    tried all the papi van winkle’s except 23 trying this year for 23. liked 10 over the 15. normaly drink angels envy really enjoy angel’s cask when available. just got introduced to baselhadens that’s up there with my tastse buds.

    I was one of the lucky ones to be able to get a bottle of the Pappy Van Winkle’s 23 yr Family Reserve. But frankly, after banging my head into the wall looking for another bottle, my liquor store owner, who was also frustrated in his attempts to get more, suggested that I try another offering – Col. Taylor’s. I have had both versions and for me, at least, this is as fine if not better in terms of both taste and availability.

    This is a great pairing list! Love Elijah Craig 12yr. It’s probably the best bourbon out there thats that old and for very cheap. The Corsair Triple Smoke and Highest Campfire are also some of my favorites as I love a smokey flavor and the Midwinters Dram may be my favorite whiskey that has come out this year! I have yet to open my Willet XCF (exploratory Cask Finish) but am guessing it will be up there with the Highwest Dram.
    Great pairings Blake!

    Am I the only one who thinks corsair triple smoke is awful? I tried it for the first time recently, and couldn’t even finish the 2oz pour. It tastes like mothball flavored moonshine to me.

    Great list. I think mine will go more like this:

    Pre-Meal: Very old Barton / W.L. Weller Antique
    Appetizer: Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition
    Casserole: Old Forester : Birthday Bourbon
    Turkey: Whistlepig : Boss Hog Spirit of Mortimer
    Dessert: Woodford Masters Collection: Sonoma Cutrer
    Bonus: (Plus Cigar… ) Pappy Van Winkle 15 year

    Nice job:
    Here is my list
    Pre-meal – Blantons – light and easy to sip
    Appetizer – Pure Kentucky
    Casserole – Four Roses OBSO
    Turkey – WT Kentucky Spirit
    Dessert – Ezra B 12 year

    Everyone ‘s got a great list suited to their individual tastes!
    Here’s mine:

    Pre-meal will start with a dram of
    Rock Hill Farms… For the appetizer I’m thinking Smooth Ambler Old Scout 10 year… For the main course I like
    The High West Rendezvous Rye with a twist of orange peel, and finally for dessert the Angel’s Envy Rye sounds
    Just about right!!!
    Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!!!

    Rock Hill Farms – as appetizer
    Four Roses for the main
    and Kentucky Owl Rye to finish (have been waiting to open this)

    The Pappy’s – I’ll keep till Christmas, or another time.. Until then I keep looking at them on my shelve.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone

    I’m thinking pre-meal with a snifter of Bernheim. Then for appetizer a glass of EC 12. Dinner, white or dark Woodford double Oaked. Desert, I would choose TH Handy Saz.

    Happy Turkey Day!
    Drink up!!

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