5 Bourbon and Candy Pairings to Try this Halloween

Forget cheese and wine—bourbon expert AJ Hochhalter is using this year’s trick-or-treat haul to create 5 pairings that satisfy your sweet tooth
October 29, 2019Words by AJ HochhalterPhotos by AJ Hochhalter

Whiskey expert and friend of Huckberry AJ Hochhalter recently produced a documentary called “Neat: The Story of Bourbon,” which dives deep into the history and production of this beloved American spirit.


Bourbon balls, The Mint Julep, the Old Fashioned (not to mention our cast iron bourbon brownies recipe)—all the proof you need that bourbon and sugar are soul mates. Try it out. Dip into that bowl you set out for the neighborhood kids, bring out your adult treats and put it to the test. Here is my incredibly scientific process: nose the bourbon, eat the candy, sip the bourbon. If anyone still gives out pencils to trick-or-treaters, you can put them to good use this year and take notes on what you think are the best bourbon and Halloween candy pairings. These are mine:


Four Roses Small Batch x Butterfinger
Char. Honey. Buttered Biscuit.

This pairing surprised me in the best possible way. Imagine you just warmed a homemade biscuit over the campfire and the edges got a little burned from the open flame. You end up smothering it in salted butter and honey and every couple bites you get a crispy, char-filled bite that is instantly evened out by rich sweetness on top. That is all I can think of with this combination. The Four Roses Single Barrel is balanced, full of butter and honey. Added to alcohol, the Butterfinger filling morphs to taste almost burned or toasted to a crisp. The chocolate coats your mouth and brings out the buttery richness of the candy.

Evan Williams Single Barrel x York Peppermint Patty 
Light. Balanced. Refreshing.

Evan Williams Single Barrel is a smooth and subtle bourbon with loads of complexity in the fruit notes. It even has a sweet tea vibe on the nose that works really well paired with the mint of a York Peppermint Patty. My favorite thing about this combo is the balanced finish. The York starts subtle with the chocolate and ends strong with the sweet, cooling wave of peppermint that lingers in your mouth. The Evan Willams has a relatively quick finish so once it begins to die off, the peppermint arrives as a sweet and crisp chaser.

Weller Antique 107 x Almond Joy
Fruit. Nuts. Spice.

Weller Antique is the strongest bourbon in this line-up, clocking in at 107 proof. Its strength works beautifully to cut through the oily texture of the coconut in the Almond Joy, leaving behind the smooth chocolate and almond—like a bourbon-infused trail mix. I also get notes of cherry and fig, which are a welcome addition to the nuttiness of the Almond Joy.  Weller Antique has a wheated mash bill, meaning that its recipe uses a majority of corn with wheat as the secondary grain.  The wheat influence along with its long finish gives your palate—and whole body for that matter—a “sweet heat” that lingers to warm you up on even the coolest of fall nights.  

Buffalo Trace x Milky Way
Butter. Chocolate Popcorn. Caramel.

This was the accidental pairing that my wife and I discovered last Halloween that ultimately led to the idea for this list. A Milky Way seems to be the perfect candy to draw out the sweet caramel and vanilla notes that are intrinsic to what bourbon is. For me, Buffalo Trace is that standard for how I want a bourbon to taste—making this a classic pairing. When you eat a Milky Way, caramel sticks in your teeth and you have that flavor in your palate the entire time. Buffalo Trace, while characterized by its smoothness and buttery corn flavor, is noticeably less sweet than other bourbons, so it settles in nicely with all the caramel. In the end, you are left feeling like you ate chocolate-covered caramel popcorn.

Woodford Double Oak x Reese’s
Rich. Salty. Sweet.

If you are familiar with the Double Oak expression, you know it is incredibly sweet. The second barreling of the Woodford Double Oak is what provides that sweetness but that extra time it spends in charred wood also brings on another round of deep earth notes that results in an almost saltiness in the bourbon. Swirl that salty sweetness of the Woodford around on your palate with the thick peanut butter of the Reese’s Cup—like adding salt to a dish, the entire flavor experience gets turned up a notch. 


>>Next: The Best Whiskeys Under $100


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