You can take your pecan pie from good to reigning champion of this year’s holiday dessert table with just one simple ingredient: booze. There’s no need for chocolate fudge, butterscotch chips, or shredded coconut. All you need to do is add whiskey. From fragrant, spicy ryes to maple-tinged bourbons, here are the best whiskeys to spike your pecan pie.
With a higher rye content than most bourbons, this white peppery whiskey comes in at 114 proof. The bourbon’s alcoholic heat will linger even after you bake the pie. Notes of oak, candied orange peel, brown sugar and toasted cardamom in the whiskey pair perfectly with candied pecans. Add a dash of cardamom bitters to really bring out the baking spices.
Piquant with a malty-sweet finish, this whiskey’s vanilla and cinnamon spice flavors will complement flaky pastry crust. To amplify the rye’s crushed red pepper heat, candy the nuts with salted-butter, brown sugar and cayenne.
This whiskey will impart flavors of sweet corn, allspice and caramel to your pie. With a splash of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon, you’ll have yourself a cornucopia of autumnal flavors. The best part of cooking with this whiskey is drinking the leftovers while you wait for your pie to bake.
The notes of barley, toasted oats and honey in this rye melt into pecans’ inherent butteriness. Instead of using traditional baking spices for your pie, opt for a smoked salt, a medley of freshly ground peppercorns—think white, green or pink—and freshly scraped vanilla bean.
For the classiest pecan pie ever, spike your dessert with Elijah Craig’s small batch, overproof bourbon. You’ll get a pie packed with butterscotch, honey and apple flavor. Be careful how much bourbon you add to your pie though. The alcohol content in this spirit is so high that baking won’t reduce the proof by much. Dessert, meet cocktail hour.