Whiskey and cigars.
Cigars and whiskey.
It seems like the two are perfect for each other, doesn’t it? What’s interesting is that not too many people know how what to drink when smoking cigars. That, my dear friend, is a tragedy because they don’t know what they’re missing!
Today, we want to highlight how to pair your cigars with your whiskey. This will allow you to appreciate how well they work together.
Whiskey and Cigars: The Basics
Before we talk about how to pair whiskey and cigars, what is whiskey?
Whiskey is a distilled spirit comes from malted grains that vary by style. The malted grains can include a mixture of barley, corn, and wheat. The flavor profile has a roasted, malted grain flavor with subtle oak notes. The actual flavor will depend on the aging process.
It’s important to note that there are a few different varieties of whiskeys:
This type of whiskey comes from Scotland and uses malted barley and other grains like corn and wheat. You have a few different types of scotch:
- Single malt the cream of the crop among whiskey aficionados.
- Blended malt is a blend of 100% malted barley whiskey from two (or more) distilleries.
- Blended whiskey combines single malt whiskey with either corn or wheat whiskey.
- Single grain whiskey is 100% corn or wheat and its main purpose is for blending.
Bourbon recipes call for at least 51% corn and must go through the aging process in a newly-charred oak barrel for at least 2 years. This whiskey comes from Kentucky, but as long as comes from the US, it is bourbon. Other types of American whiskey include:
- Tennessee Bourbon is a specific type of bourbon made in Tennessee. It must use 51 to 79% corn in its recipe and go through maple charcoal before the aging process.
- Bottled in bond whiskey is whiskey that meets the authenticity and quality standards set by the Bottled-in-Bonded Act of 1897.
- Rye whiskey must be at least 51% rye grain and it will have a crisper flavor and mouthfeel than regular bourbon.
This type of whiskey comes from Ireland and like to scotch. There are a few differences worth noting:
- Single malt is the same as single malt scotch.
- Grain whiskey is lighter than single malts and the corn or wheat is distilled in a column still.
- Blended whiskey blends single malt with grain whiskey.
- Single pot still whiskey is unique to Irish whiskey. It uses 100% barley (both malted and unmalted) in a single pot still.
Canadian whiskey doesn’t have to follow such strict rules as other whiskey nations. The whiskey must be mashed, distilled and aged in the country. Also, the whiskey can’t be aged for less than three years and should have the signature “Canadian whisky” attributes (as per the Canadian Food Inspection Agency)
Types of Cigars
With the whiskey out of the way, let’s go over the different types of cigars:
A robusto cigar is the most common type of cigar. It’s about 5 inches long and is usually between 40 to 50 on the ring gauge. This means the cigar will last about 45 minutes to an hour.
These cigars are larger in comparison, as they measure in at 48 to 54 on the ring gauge. They have a conical shape and are the typical gangster cigar.
A corona cigar is the most popular type of cigar because it has great flavor and has a 42 ring gauge. These are perfect for people who find most cigars too overpowering.
A lonsdale cigar is like a corona in its smoke flavor and size, except these cigars are on the longer side, measuring in at 6.5 inches.
This cigar only comes in at 34 to 38 on the ring gauge, but due to its length (over 7 inches depending on brand), you will be puffing for as long as 2 hours).
These cigars are for experienced smokers, as they are about 7 inches long and create a thick, heavy smoke – thanks to its 47 ring gauge.
How To Pair Whiskey and Cigars
Now that you know your whiskeys and you know your cigars, let’s talk about how to pair them together!
What’s interesting about cigars is that you can pair them up with just about any spirit, but whiskey and cigars just work the best.
The first step when pairing whiskey and cigars is that you be willing to experiment a little bit to see what you like. You can do this by doing some research, going to tasting events, and trying out a variety of cigars and whiskeys.
As you become more familiar with the flavors and aromas you like, the easier it will be to make those pairings.
When figuring out your pairings is to match the quality of the cigar to the quality of the whiskey. You don’t want to choose a light cigar and sip on a smokier whiskey.
Some people feel that the taste and aroma of a cigar overpowers the whiskey. In situations like this, we recommend going for a cask strength spirit. When done, the whiskey and the cigar should compliment each other.
If you are smoking a strong cigar, why not try pairing it with a sherry or a spiced whiskey? The texture of these whiskeys will help make the dry cigar smoke a little more enjoyable.
Final Thoughts on Pairing Whiskey and Cigars
The art of choosing the perfect whiskey and cigar pairings isn’t that difficult to master. All it takes is the willingness to experiment, as well as some basic knowledge of both cigars and whiskey – which we hope we’ve been able to provide you with today.
If you forget anything else about pairing your whiskey and your cigar, remember that nothing is off limits. After all, the only way you’ll know if you like a pairing is if you try it first!
Leave us a comment below and tell us your favorite pairings, or what pairings you’d like to try first. We’d love to hear from you!