Pairing a cigar with a beverage is a tricky business. Even veteran skilled cigar smokers still find it challenging to come up with the perfect combination. For one thing, if you are to drink and smoke, you will need a strong drink that will not overpower the equally strong cigar you are smoking. You need a perfect balance. After all, your cigar will last you 2-3 hours, and the drink must not spoil the taste of the cigar in that space of time.
So how do you pair the perfect cigar to the perfect drink? Easy. Cigar and whiskey. That’s a combination as perfect as liver and onion. Both have strong tastes, yet perfectly balancing each other.
It’s One Big Balancing Act (and a Tricky One at That)
The basics of balancing your favorite cigar to an alcoholic drink you have to gauge the flavor intensity and depth of your cigar and the whiskey you are considering pairing it with. This is where knowledge, understanding, experience, and taste come into play.
For example, a cask-strength Scotch whiskey is bound to overpower and spoil the taste of the Romero Y Julieta. A strong whiskey paired with a light cigar is a recipe for disaster, and a spoilt evening. Flavor intensities must balance out and compliment each other.
If your favorite cigar is of the sweet kind, then go for a sweet whiskey like bourbon – its vanilla and caramel flavors will definitely bring out the sweet flavor of your Ashton Aged Maduro.
It’s All on the Tongue
Whiskey and cigars are like the people who smoke them – they are all unique. A combination that works for me might not work for you at all. Our palates and tastes are different. That is why the masters in the craft will not lay down solid combinations, they simply point you in the right direction. Cigar and whiskey pairing is a journey you must take alone, just like the journey of life.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations. Embrace the adventure and enjoy it as long as you can. The one simple rule on this journey is: listen to your tongue.
Go on an adventure with your tongue, a wild one if you may. Sample as many whiskeys and cigars as you can. Taste rye whiskey, bourbon, Japanese whiskey, cheap whiskey (who knows, you may find a surprise), expensive whiskey, you name it, try it (as long as you hail an Uber afterward). Learn their distinctive tastes and flavors. Do the same with your cigars, start from the light ones like H. Upmann’s Coronas Minor Tubos, progress to mild cigars like the Cohibo Siglo IV, until you get to full bodied cigars like the mighty Bolivar Petit Belicosos.
Once you understand your cigars and whiskeys, it will become easier for you to narrow down the combinations you like until you hit your sweet spot.
Initially, you may make some terrible pairings but it’s all part of the adventure. It will help you appreciate the pairings that work. Besides, the experience you will gain along the way is well worth it in the end.
I’m Not that Adventurous, Point Me in a Direction (and Pour Me a Stiff One While You at It)
If you insist, but as said earlier, what works for one might not work for you. That being said, let’s look at a few highly rated cigar and whiskey pairings.
1. Partagas Serie D No 4 and the Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve
This is an expertly recommended cigar and whiskey pairing from a seminar held by James J. Fox and Dalmore at the Whiskey Show. The well-balanced honey and fruit flavors from the whiskey truly compliment the smooth chocolate flavor of the Partagas.
2. CLE Plus 2015 Robusto and Jameson Original
The CLE Plus has a light and floral flavor and its partnership with a Jameson Original is a clear winning combination.
3. Monte Cristo No 4 and Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
One of the world’s top-selling cigar, the Montecristo No 4 is rich in milky chocolate and vanilla cream flavors. What better pairing than to sip a bourbon with distinct vanilla, toffee, and honey flavors? This is a pairing you can indulge in on a more regular basis as both whiskey and cigar are budget friendly. Better still, why not purchase this combination as a whiskey and cigar gift set? Even for yourself.
Cigar and Whiskey Pairings - A Sublime Adventure Awaits
Ready to go on an adventure of cigar and whiskey pairings? Let me know so we go together,