Nothing beats coming home from a long day and enjoying the perfect pair between your favorite cigar and a drink that will supplement the experience. Still, finding the right pairing for your taste can be challenging, especially if you are not aware of the different type of combinations you can do.
Of course you can nail that with a lot of experimenting and some luck but I decided to make a detailed guide on some of the best cigar pairing combinations and share it with you. Once you feel the matched flavors of a carefully picked premium cigar and a good drink, you will see why many aficionados have turned this into a sweet science that takes the experience to a whole different level.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this topic, you have to ask yourself a few questions first. What is your favorite flavor for both cigars and alcohol? Are you a single malt scotch person or a blended one? Chances are that if you do not enjoy drinking rum, you won’t enjoy it with a cigar next to it as well. This is why you have to know beforehand what you like and what you don’t. That will help you personalize this whole experience and tailor it to your needs. What I am going to do is just give you some ideas and tried-and-tested combinations which are widely accepted as good.
Types of alcohol that works well with cigars
There is a large variety of beverages that you can mix in with your favorite cigar. Here is each type that I will go through separately and point out the benefits and disadvantages of pairing cigars with it:
- Various cocktails
Cigar and Scotch Pairing
A hand in a glove, peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese—these things go together naturally. In a nutshell, they make each other better and whole.
Cigars and scotch is another example of a perfect pairing that belongs in this category. It is an experience that no cigar aficionado should miss out on. The mere thought of holding a glass of scotch in one hand and a fine cigar in the other is relaxing enough.
There’s nothing better than taking sips in between deep draws. However, there is one important question you have to answer before you can enjoy the cigars and scotch pairing properly. What is the best scotch with cigars?
When drinking scotch, you’d often go for the strongest bottle in your cabinet. As delicious and full of flavors as that might be, it isn’t always the ideal pick for someone who wants to add to the smoking experience. A rich and strong scotch will easily overpower the taste of your cigar and lower the quality of your experience.
With scotch, there are usually three flavors:
If you have a blended scotch such as the Johnnie Walker Blue, you will most likely experience all of those three combined, while other brands rely on one of those flavors only. That Johnnie Walker will go well with a Davidoff Millennium Cigar, while the Black variation of the Johnny Walker will fit perfectly to a Leccia White. The Black Label has a very notable peaty flavor which is complemented by the smoky tones of the Leccia cigar, while the Millennium has enough smoothness to it to not get lost in the various tones of the Blue Label.
Another example of a perfect cigar and scotch pairing is Ashton VSG and Lagavulin 16. Ashton VSG is a strong cigar with powerful notes of earth, cider, and spice. Lagavulin 16 is equally strong with a huskiness that brings the best out of Ashton VSG instead of overwhelming it. This pair will leave a satisfying taste in your mouth for hours.
Joining the list of cigar and scotch pairings is the tandem of La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse and Macallan 18. Macallan 18 has a distinctive smoky taste that goes well with its spice and autumn fruit flavors. Add that to the creamy floral texture of the Noblesse, and you get a winning combination.
If you happen to get your hands on a glass of Oban 18, don’t let it go to waste. Instead, pair it with the equally legendary Fuente Fuente Opus X. You will enjoy Oban 18’s unique flavor of vanilla and wild berries the most if you add the rich signature of the Opus X.
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Finding the best scotch with cigars on your own is somewhat of a hit-and-miss process. Hopefully, you will find at least one of these recommendations helpful.
With scotch, it really takes some time to get used to what goes well with what. A cigar that goes perfectly well with a single malt might taste quite bad with a blend and vice versa. The key point here is to remember not to overpower the taste of the scotch with the taste of the cigar or the opposite.
As soon as you start your cigars and scotch pairings, you will develop a taste of your own for what is good and what isn’t. Every person is unique and so will be your preferences, so take a note every time you find something that hits that sweet spot for you.
If you are also looking for a great cigar cutter that will further improve your experience, I recommend using the Alaska Bear Stainless Steel Cigar Cutter.
Cigars and Whiskey Pairing
When you dive into cigar pairing, you will find out that nothing will be easier than finding a right blend of whiskey for your cigars. This particular dark alcohol is very safe to play around with and almost never disappoints you. Avoid smoky whiskeys and opt for the ones with richer flavors. What you need to remember here is the following – the richer the whiskey, the smokier the cigar. Try to balance those two aspects out and find and look for the perfect fit for your taste buds.
If you want a “smoke on smoke” experience, try out Ardbeg, which is one of the smokier whiskey brands out there. That combination will either give you quite the rough flavor or the whiskey might even overpower the cigar. Still, I’ve seen a lot of people enjoy this type of combination, so it is safe to say that there is something for everyone out there.
One particular combination that I rather enjoy is the Jack Daniel’s Gentleman Jack and a Sun Grown by Ashton Estate. This particular Jack Daniel’s is aged a bit longer and has a certain edge to it which works perfectly with the unique taste of the special wrapper that the Sun Grown cigar uses. All that results in a silky smooth cigar tones with the ideal combination between spice, smoke, sweetness and smoothness.
Pairing Cigars With Rum
Two of the main ingredients used in making rum and cigars are sugar cane and tobacco. Since those are grown in the same regions, this particular alcohol is bound to go fairly well with your cigar collection.
Still, thanks to the large variety of rums out there, finding the perfect fit can be a hard task. The sugary nature of rum really balances well the cigar smoky tones without one overpowering the other.
One particular cigar that goes well with many rums is the light (to medium) bodied Epicure number 2 by Hoyo de Monterrey. It has cocoa, dried fruit, and cinnamon tones to it which pair perfectly with a rum like the Aniversario Pampero which has similar characteristics in terms of flavors. That rum also adds a touch of ginger, cloves, and lemon tea to the blend. Another good rum that compliments this cigar (or any other cigar for that matter) is the Kirk and Sweeney rum.
Cigars and Cognac Pairing
One of the most famous ways to enjoy your cigar is with a glass of cognac next to it. Cognac in its nature is the perfect counterpart for a smokey cigar as it balances things out perfectly. In fact, in terms of pure cigar pairing, this is the most universal type of alcohol you can work with, even better than whiskey. You can pick any bottle of your shelf and chances are that it will most likely fit well with any cigar you have in your cigar humidor. Still, there are a few cigar and cognac combinations that I would like to point out as exceptional…
Older cognacs like the Hennessy XO are also a popular choice among drinkers and smokers. The nutty and complex flavor of the XO goes well with the leather and cocoa flavor of stronger cigars.
In general, vintage cognac goes well with full-bodied cigars. The combined wood notes and fruity sweetness of the French brandy and the smoky aroma of a premium blue label cigar are hard to match.
When I say cognac most of you probably think of Courvoisier which is logical since it is very famous and there is a reason for that – the taste is just rich on its undertones and ends up complimenting almost any cigar you can think of. One particular cigar I love for this cognac is the Ramon Bueso Oddysey. It is a little on the heavy side but for most cigar loves that just adds to the pleasure.
As with cognac, you will need a special place to keep your cigars. If you want to find out what it takes to store your cigars properly and keep their taste stable over time, check out my full guide on some of the best cigar humidors out there.
Aside from cognac, there are other types of brandy that go well with your favorite cigar. If you want to expand your selection, I’ve got you covered with some general recommendations for cigars and brandy pairings.
Cigars and brandy have a natural chemistry that allows them to bring the best out of each other. That said, some decisions have to be made when pairing the two. For instance, brandies with subtle floral and fruity tastes go well with milder cigars. You would want your drink to complement your cigar, not displace your smoking experience. A good choice would be cigars with Connecticut wrappers.
If you smoke a medium to full-bodied blue label cigar, the Armagnac is a safe choice. Armagnacs are distilled only once and have a versatility that complements a wider range of cigars.
Finally, cigars with big bodies are best paired with American brandies with a bold barrel flavor. They counterbalance each other perfectly, giving you a unique and relaxing experience.
Pairing Cigars With Beer
Nothing is simpler than sitting on your porch and enjoying a good cold beer with a cigar. There aren’t any strict rules of pairing those two and there are countless of combinations completely dependant on one’s taste.
The question you need to ask yourself is “what do you like in beer?”. Knowing how to supplement your favorite beer is something only you can answer since nobody knows beer better than you do. I have a few recommendations, though. You have to try out a combination between the Alec Bradley American Sun Grown Blend and any type of Pumpkin Ale. The cigar is balanced in its core and has a spicy, rich outer leaf flavors.
Wine and Cigars Pairing
When smoking a premium cigar, you might feel like adding something similarly premium to the mix. Nothing does that better than a fine wine for all of you wine lovers out there. Typically, cigar enthusiasts don’t appreciate this combination enough but there are ways to make it work and that is why I included this section here.
Let’s start with white wines. First rule is to stay away from Chardonnays, unless of course you have one that you really love. Their acidity and citrus-like flavors don’t hold well when paired with a cigar. Most other wines will be just fine with a good cigar, although you will have to do a little testing to see what is good for you and what doesn’t taste as well.
While Chardonnays get easily overpowered by the cigar, with red wines it is the opposite. Their rich grape flavors easily overpower your cigar. Try something lighter that will add to the smoky feel instead of completely engulfing it.
Try out different dark red wines that have tangy taste to them or some sweeter whites for experimental value. As for cigars, you can hardly go wrong, so focus on the wine you want to have instead of the cigar.
Other Cigar Pairing Options
While I covered some of the most common alcohol types, there still are some almost bizarre pairing combinations that some people enjoy. Those are coffee and cocktails…
Cigars and Coffee Pairing
Some people love drinking coffee not for its stimulative effects but for the taste of it. Oftentimes, those same people love finding a good cigar to supplement their favorite cup of joy.
When it comes to coffee and cigars you have to know that as both these are ground products, you might have to do a little digging (no pun intended) to find what works best with what. When finding a good combination you will put yourself in the middle of a wonderful mix of overlapping flavors creating an end result for the ages. A Perdomo Habano cigar paired with a medium (or dark) roasted coffee feels like wonder. The cigar is the stronger in this pair and has a smooth silky smoke and the coffee will further bring out the taste from its leaves.
With coffee, you have to rely on what you typically enjoy. If you like light roast coffee, don’t try to mix dark roast with a cigar, as you simply won’t like it. With darker roasts, try finding a cigar that will stand its ground and won’t disappear amidst the coffee flavors.
To learn more about cigar and coffee pairings, click here!
Cigars and Cocktails Pairing
We discussed how alcohol handles cigar smoking but what about different alcohols blended together in a cocktail mixture? Well, let’s find out!
My first rule with cocktails is to stick to the basics. Don’t get way over board. My best suggestion for a cigar pairing is an Old Fashioned. It is a mix of whiskey, sugar, lemon, and other variable ingredients depending on your mood. This particular cocktail goes perfectly well with a full-bodied cigar.
Cigar pairing isn’t an exact science and if you feel experimental enough it can be quite fun. It may take some time before you find your perfect combination but at the end of the day you will have something unique that is tailored to your taste. Trying out proven combinations isn’t bad and will certainly save you a lot of time and wrongfully burned cigars but I always encourage newcomers to rely on their instincts and preferences.
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