Choosing the right whiskey marinade is largely a matter of choosing the right blend of spices to bring out the flavor of a particular dish. Such a marinade can be used with a wide variety of different dishes, and each type of dish tends to lend itself to a particular spice blend. Personal flavor preferences vary widely, however, and experimentation is a key part of choosing the best whiskey marinade. Customers shopping for pre-packaged marinades can narrow down the available choices by indentifying brands or ingredients that they either like or dislike.
Homemade marinades are simple to prepare and allow a cook to produce exactly the flavor profile that he or she desires for a particular dish. Most marinade recipes call for a salty ingredient, frequently soy sauce. Salt, when used in moderation, tends to enhance the natural flavors of all foods, and soy sauce is a convenient source of sodium as well as other flavors that add richness to food.
The whiskey used in a marinade should be chosen based on personal preference. Most varieties of whiskey can be used to good effect in a marinade. Whiskey can be made from many different grains, and each variety has a unique flavor. Individual preferences vary widely, and some varieties of whisky, such as the very peaty single-malt whiskies, may not be ideal candidates for use in marinades both because of their expense and because of their pronounced flavor profiles.
When choosing the spices to be included in a homemade whiskey marinade, it is a good idea to pick spices that would normally bring out the flavors in the food being marinated. Black pepper, for instance, is generally felt to complement the flavor of beef, and many types of whiskey marinade for steak feature pepper or peppercorns. Ginger, red pepper, garlic, and mustard are also commonly added to marinades for beef.
A whiskey marinade that is meant for use with very lean meats may need to include fats or oils. These are added in order to add richness to the meat. The added oil can also prevent meats such as salmon from drying out during the cooking process.
Many sorts of whiskey marinade are bottled and sold commercially. Consumers may identify a particular brand of whiskey, perhaps based on a single variety of whiskey, as a personal favorite. Other shoppers may wish to select marinades that rely on natural ingredients, or meet specific dietary standards, such as being certified as gluten-free.