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Swap Bourbon for Scotch in Chocolate Truffles

A touch of booze is a great way to liven up a batch of two-ingredient chocolate truffles. The bittersweet chocolate flavor and velvety texture of the truffles combined with the rich burn of a good spirit can make for a decadent weekend snack or adults-only after-dinner treat.

If you’ve been making spirit-enhanced truffles for a while, odds are good that your go-to liquor is bourbon. Since it’s relatively cheap and has all the flavors you’d need to give these chocolatey candies a boozy kick, it’s a pretty easy pick. But if spirit-tasting appeals, you may want to swap your whiskey for a whisky — yes, there really is a difference between the two. Specifically, put the bourbon back on the shelf when you’re making your chocolate truffles and replace it with a dram or two of decent Scotch.

While there are different kinds of Scotch whisky, one good flavor option is to use one with smoky notes in your truffles. Though both bourbons and Scotches derive some smoky notes from time spent in oak barrels, the differences in the distillation and maturing process between the two spirits give them unique tasting notes — all of which you’d be able to appreciate alongside the sweet, indulgent treat.

If you like smoky flavor, you’ll like peaty Scotch truffles

Talisker whisky box

While many bourbons and Scotch whiskies have smokiness in their flavor profile, where they got it from differs. Bourbon takes the majority of its smokiness from new, charred oak barrels. Meanwhile, the malted barley that’s later distilled into Scotch is often first dried in kilns fueled by peat. When burnt, the peat releases fragrant and flavorful smoke that infuses into the spirit.

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Certain peated whiskeys like Talisker from Skye or those from the Scottish island of Islay, such as Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin, have a pronounced peatiness. These will lend your chocolate truffles a flavor profile entirely different from their American bourbon-based counterparts. That strong flavor note lends a bold contrast to the sweet and bitter-tasting notes in rich chocolate truffles. Another difference can be tasted if you use Scotch made from a single grain. These single-malt Scotch whiskies often taste somewhat stronger with more refined tasting notes.

If you’re new to peaty Scotch whiskies, pick a light or medium peat bottle. Some people just don’t vibe very well with the peat flavor, especially when coming from bourbons whose smokiness is subtle at best. These will have just a hint of smoke, so you can decide for yourself if these Scotches are for you and your truffles. And if you’re curious, why not mix up two batches, one with Scotch and one with bourbon; the pair will make for an interesting tasting experience.

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