As with any other type of pairing, the art of pairing whiskey and cigars is one that requires not only knowledge, but a willingness to experiment.
The first step to pairing whiskey and cigars is to become more of an expert in both departments. Attend tastings, do research, and drink and smoke a wide variety of drams and stogies. The more than you can identify subtle differences in flavor and aromas, the more insight you’ll be able to bring to your pairings.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to pair light-bodied spirits with light-bodied cigars and vice versa. A light cigar will pair well with a blended scotch, for example, while a Maduro can compliment a peaty Islay or a single malt.
Many people find that the taste of cigars can overpower their whiskey, so it is suggested to go for a cask strength libation if you find yourself running into this problem. When paired correctly, a cigar and a whiskey should enhance the flavors of one another.
It is advised to avoid smoky whiskies when choosing a pair, since the cigar will have all of the smoky flavor you’ll need. Instead, opt for a sherried or spicy dram to go with your smoke. The texture of a sherried whiskey can often assist in combating the dryness of the cigar smoke.
Be sure to match the quality of your cigar with the quality of your whiskey. A cheap cigar and a fine whiskey (or vice versa) will be not able to do each other justice.
Since cigar and whiskey pairings have long been a familiar tradition, one whiskey has been created for just that. “The body, structure and character of this [Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve] is the perfect complement to a fine cigar.” Of course, this isn’t the only whiskey that works in cigar pairing.
The most important thing to remember when pairing whiskey and cigars is that no pair is off-limits. The number one way to tell if two things taste good together is to simply try it. Sometimes contrasting flavors can actually complement each other, such as a sweet whiskey with a peppery cigar. Don’t hesitate to try new things—you might just find the perfect pair.
If are still looking for some more direction on your own whiskey and cigar pairings, we invite you to visit us at Julio’s Liquors on Route 9 in Westborough, MA. We have a team of experts in both our spirits and cigar sections, and we would be happy to help you learn how to pair the two.