Some gentlemen will smoke a stogie without anything to accompany it, some will choose strong coffee, others may have a cold beer or wine, and then there are those who prefer spirits like a good single malt or brandy.
Whether yours is a Monte Cristo, Romeo and Juliet or one of the many Davidoff cigars, pairing a cigar with a good liquor can make both of them sing in harmony in ways that will warm you from head to toe. Correctly pairing a fine cigar with an equally beautiful liquor can create a very satisfying experience indeed.
By liquor, we mean to drink it neat, without water, ice or mixers. If you like an additive, then that’s up to you and never let anyone tell you are drinking it wrong. Just be mindful that it will change the experience of pairing it with a cigar.
And remember, neat liquor will numb the palate something wonderful, so if you’ve bought an attractive cigar to investigate its unique flavours then may we suggest holding back on the liquor, at least until afterwards.
Surprisingly, a tincture of gin and tonic or a light spirit like vodka can be the perfect way to refresh and cleanse the palate between puffs allowing you to get a fresh taste of tobacco.
We would suggest going as light as possible on the gin front, anything too heavy and herbal will take away the joy of the cigar itself. As with the tonic, go for a light one; you don’t want to overpower the cigar, just clean the palette.
Vodka can be a bit more assertive, and coupled with soda it becomes an excellent palette cleanser for actually taking in the flavours of your cigar.
When we think about an after-dinner drink with fellow diners, the mind cannot help but muster up the vision of gentleman stood around a smoking lounge puffing on stogies and swirling snifters of Cognac and port after enjoying a substantial supper of wild game. The reason this image comes to mind is that it is true, as well as heavier liquors being perfect for after dinner, they pair beautifully with cigars, especially the stronger ones.
For the beginners, Cognac is a region in France, and all Cognacs are brandies, but not all brandies are cognacs. As well as many other distinctive characteristics, Cognacs must be aged for a minimum of two years so they can acquire the tasting notes from their barrel.
Armagnac and Calvados are other French brandies, the latter made from apples. All great drinks to accompany your stogie after a dinner.
If by some means you aren’t interested in brandies, turn towards a good rum. Many people do not consider rum as a sipping drink, but in fact, rums hold incredibly deep, exciting and exotic flavours; paradise in a bottle. Rums that are blended with spices and vanilla will hold well with a strong, dark cigar and feel like taking in a dessert; perfect for after dinner.
Whether you drink it by the dram or the Quaich; traditionally Scotch or whisky is the day time pairing for your favourite stogie. We could write a manifesto on tasting notes from hundreds of Scotch brands and how they weigh up when combined with a fine cigar, but here are some basics.
It is always down to personal preference, and like mentioned at the beginning of the article, there is no right or wrong answer on how to drink your chosen liquor. But stay open minded to suggestions and try a variety from the top shelf of your local.
Some appreciate the smoky, peaty flavour of a good Scotch and how it compliments a cigar, while others find it detracts from the overall experience. So, if you are keen to pair a Scotch, we would recommend you avoid the heavy iodine and salty varieties as these flavours can conflict with your stogie.
Be aware that a strong whisky can overpower a mild cigar as a strong cigar can overwhelm a soft whisky – like an Irish variety – so it’s all about balance.
Image credit: Unique Hotels Group