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22nd January 2018How to Pair Whiskey with Cigars
Pairing a high-quality whisky with the complex flavours of a cigar can be an incredibly rewarding experience. The problem for many is that choosing the right type of cigar and whisky to pair can be a tough one – even an intimidating one.
Because they are respectively highly complex flavours, choosing the wrong whisky and cigar to pair with one another can result in one overpowering the other, tarnishing what should have been a luxurious affair. Thus, choosing the right whiskey results in the flavours from the cigar being beautifully complemented, allowing for enjoyment to be increased tenfold.
How to determine a whisky and cigar pairing?
With a wide range of tobaccos and whiskys on the market, it is first important to understand the intricacies of what you’ll be drinking and smoking. Whiskys can have flavours that are vastly different depending on where they are produced and how they are made – this is made abundantly clear with a peaty scotch being wholly different from a sweeter Kentucky bourbon.
If you favour certain scotches or dislike bourbon or Irish whiskey, this too may play a part in you deciding the right kind of cigar to smoke.
Determining the body of the pairing
When choosing the appropriate cigar to pair with a whisky, the most important factor is to consider the body of the cigar or whisky. In the case of the whisky, the body should not translate to the alcohol content of the whisky itself, but the flavours that the whisky boasts.
A lighter cigar works harmoniously with a whisky that is lighter in body, such as some of the scotches produced in the lowlands of Scotland. A heavier, more robust cigar as a comparison works in unison with the heavier, peatier flavour profiles that are common in the Scottish Isles.
Start exploring the wonderful world of cigar and whiskey pairings!
A lot of pleasure and excitement comes from experimenting with cigar and whiskey combinations. Both light-bodied whiskys and cigars can still vary hugely when it comes to flavour profile, so there is ample opportunity to find out for yourself what pairings create the most harmonious flavour profiles possible.
To get you started, here are some of our favourite whisky pairings for cigars within our collection:
The Plasencia family is one with extensive experience in the cigar world, having supplied cigars for over five generations to distinguished brands like Patel, Gurkha, and Romeo y Julieta. The Alma Fuerte Sixto II is one of the best tobaccos to come from this family, grown in the highest quality soil that brings out their bold, vibrant and intense flavours. This medium bodied blend imparts hints of dark chocolate, plum and cinnamon through a deep sweetness that plays well with smokey and syrupy flavours like those from the Nikka Taketsuru 12 Year Old. This whisky, matured in sherry casks, gives rich and spicy notes of burnt cinnamon toast and baked pears with ice cream. As these heartwarming flavours further develop, it continues to impart hints of smoke, complementing the subtle notes of oak and molasses coming from the cigar.
This figurado has had a cult following, owed to its unique ability to provide richness within a mild cigar and a testament to its high-quality construction. Its dark wrapper is reflective of its masculine and deep palate, which starts out slightly peppery and then smooths out into coffee and rich mocha. This intoxicating blend of flavours can be well-matched with a similarly robust whisky, the Fuji Sanroku 50. Created by Japanese beer giant Kirin, its strong, potent malt flavours are tempered by scents and tastes of biscuits, chocolate and vanilla, which comes from its aging process in former bourbon American oak barrels. Both cigar and whisky, while intense and rich in taste, provide respite in its smoothness to create an indulgent experience that remains elevated.
This is a unique cigar from Romeo y Julieta, wrapped in cedar to not only protect it but also to infuse some of its flavours as the cigar matures and further develops in a humidor. It hits with a creamy and firm draw, with subtle notes of sweetness and nuttiness enveloped in cedar aroma. To further raise the bar on this already sublime palate, the Kavalan Podium presents an exotic malt with complementary flavours of sweet vanilla and honey, not without a welcome hint of ginger and pepper. As the whisky leans further into its more woody tones, it finishes with oaky notes that perfectly mirror the lasting notes of cedar and nut in the cigar.
At first, the Casa Turrent 1901 Gran Robusto delivers a mix of mocha, cedar, and orange sweetness. Very quickly, the mocha notes take over and expand into rich chocolate flavours, with citrus and cedar just behind it. These bright but grounded flavours are well-complemented by the fruity but deep profile of the GlenDronach Allardice 18 Year Old. This whisky, fully aged in oloroso sherry casks, is one of the most sherry-forward whiskies on the market. Its notes of dried sweet fruits, walnut bread and chocolate orange can bring more focus to the fruity aspects of the 1901 Gran Robusto, giving a well-rounded experience where fruit and chocolate are both centre-stage.
The Chateau Fuente Robusto from Arturo Fuente, packed in a distinctive cedar sleeve, is one of the best-selling cigars out there for a reason. This classic cigar promises to impress with its masterful blend of tobacco from a private reserve specifically chosen for its fruity and floral flavours. The delicate herbaceousness of this cigar pairs perfectly with a clean and light whisky such as the Suntory Hakushu 12 Year old. Hailing from the forests of Japan, this peated Japanese single malt whisky brings fruity flavours without the usual accompanying sweetness, which is replaced by a hint of smoked grass. Its lightness and elegance continue to show through a touch of honey, lemon and ginger in its finish, bringing out the fresh and slight spiciness within the Chateau Fuente Robusto.
A cigar of legendary status, the Montecristo No. 2 is the most famous of the cigars offered by this iconic, sought-after brand. Artfully rolled within a perfectly seamless wrapper, this cigar delivers the classic Monte flavour that only comes from an authentically Cuban cigar. It is well-balanced, giving pepper-laden smoke laced with hints of espresso and cocoa. The Talisker 30 Year Old not only matches this in its premium quality, but also in its varied palate, pointing to peat, pepper and soft fruits that then introduces a slightly heated chocolate flavour. Together, the well-developed, peppery but sweet palate of both provide an ultra-premium experience that can only be obtained through high quality ingredients.
If you’d like some additional personal pointers related to the range we maintain at Alexanders Cigar Merchants, Mr Cigarman would be happy to demonstrate some of his favourite flavour combinations – get in touch with us today to find your favorite whisky and cigar pairings!