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Whiskey and Cigar Pairings


Published: 05/24/2011

by Whiskey.com


Whiskey and cigars can evoke a mix of images from the hard drinking frontiersman throwing back shots of whiskey when a cigar is not firmly wedged into his mouth to a group of gentlemen in tuxedos enjoying whiskey as they smoke and converse. However you look at it, cigars and whiskey can be paired to bring out the best in each other.

Some pairings do not work well together with one flavor overpowering the other. There are two approaches to pairing anything including whiskey and cigars. One is to try to achieve complimentary flavors, a smoky red wine with barbecue. Or seeking flavors that create contrast, salty and sweet.

The classic whiskey to pair with a cigar is a single malt scotch. When trying to achieve a complimentary taste, it is best to pair scotch whiskey with a similarly bodied cigar. The mild flavors of a Highland Park single malt with a La Flor Dominicana will work together to bring out the best in each other. The strength of a Lagavulin Single Malt Whiskey paired with a strong Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970 will neutralize their weaknesses leaving a potent and smoky experience. If seeking contrasting flavors, one might try a mild scotch, like Dalwhinnie, with a strong cigar, like a La Aurora 100 Años. Together the strong cigar does not overwhelm the scotch, but gains a mild base to it.

Blended scotch whiskeys are often forgotten about, but the mixes found in a blend can be complimented very well by a cigar. A Cohiba Esplendido can have more of a leathery quality to when paired with Chivas Regal as well as giving the whiskey a smoother and more potent taste. Cutty Sark, a light blend whiskey, will sweeten a Don Tomás Dominican Selection Corona Gorda while also giving it more smoke.

Of course, good pairings do not stop with scotch. Sancho Panza Caballero, rich tasting and medium-bodied, is a cigar that can be paired with many different kinds of rye whiskey depending on the desired result. Paired with an old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey, the Sancho brings out a sweet, richness to the taste. With Jim Bean, it's a flavor that is equal parts sweet, nutty and leathery. Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye's rich oaken, sweetness is matched by the cigar, making a unique and rich treat.

Bourbon whiskey can be used to create good pairings as well. A lighter bourbon whiskey can be paired well with a light cigar, otherwise the flavors might clash or become neutral. But Four Roses or Jack Daniel's Single Barrel with a Macanudo Prince Phillip cigar can make each other perform better. Maker's Mark, with its stronger-bodied flavor, is better suited to go along with heavy cigars like Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo or Montecristo No. 2. The complexity of Wild Turkey Rare Breed is a great match for a Fuente Fuente OpusX Perfexcion No. 2, a very full-bodied cigar.