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How to pair cigars with alcohol

In past articles we've discussed how to smoke cigars like a gent, as well as given advice on Cuban and non-Cuban cigars.  With summer in the United States still well and truly in season, it's as good a time as any to think about how to pair your cigar with a wine, beer, or spirit of your choice.  When done poorly, it can ruin both the drink and the smoke, but when done properly, pairing (as in dining) can enhance the taste of both the cigar and the drink.

General Principle

You want to match the body of the beverage with the body of the cigar.  A light cigar should go with something lighter to drink, and a strong cigar should go with a stronger drink.  Don't let the drink dominate the cigar and vice versa, and be ready and willing to make mistakes as you learn.

Wine

White wine and prosecco are best for your mildest smokes.  For a spicier, darker smoke, you might try a medium-body red wine like a Cabernet, whereas a sweeter smoke would go well with a darker, full-bodied wine like a Merlot.  A sweet wine like port should not be paired with a sweet smoke (remember you are looking to complement both the cigar and the alcohol) but with something spicy.

Beer

It goes without saying that you don't want to use commodity beers to pair with your cigars.  Choose craft brews, particularly from your city or region.  As with both wine and spirits - a lighter beer goes with a lighter smoke, and a strong stout or porter should go with a medium to full-bodied smoke.

Spirits

Vodka and gin are poor choices for pairing as their tastes tend to get cloaked by even the mildest cigars.

If you have a mild cigar, a very dependable pairing is with blended scotch, whereas a good offbeat pairing in the spirits category would be an apple brandy, like Calvados from the Normandy region of France.

A medium bodied cigar goes well with bourbons, Irish whiskey, and rye, whereas a full-bodied cigar is best with one of those Highland single-malts.

Cognac and dark rum are also reliable choices for almost any type of cigar.

Do you have a favorite cigar/drink combo?  Share in the comments below to receive a free 7-course hair service to gift to a friend who has never been to The Gents Place!

 

Ben Davis

About Ben Davis

A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.

I’ll offer two options for those with different preferences.
1. Creamy smoke / spicy Rum. At this moment I’m enjoying a box-pressed Padron Serie 1926 with the bolder Maduro wrapper. I’m pairing it w Cuban Ron gifted me by a good friend upon returning from an e curation there. This is the real thing Santiago de Cuba Anejo has been made since the early 1800s by the same family w sugar cane from the same fields. The smooth creamy notes of my cigar compliment the spiciness of the Rum.

2. BIG flavors all around. Partagas Serie 4 with The Dalmore Cigar Malt blended. The last batch was casked in 2009, but my wife somehow found one for my birthday gift last month. It was blended especially for cigar aficionados. Butterscotch and shortbread. Then Orange flower and coffee. Finished by cinnamon and spice. The Partagas cigar is a major league smoke and very complex in layers of flavor and textures. Great robust experience.

I may be cheating but I’ll weigh in on two pairings:

1. If you like BIG flavors and like Scotch: Try pairing a hefty Partagas Serie D 4 with Dalmore Cigar Malt Scotch. It’s a blended whiskey specially crafted for cigar pairings. It was discontinued in 2009 so it’s hard to come by – my lovely wife found a bottle and gifted me with it on my birthday. The whiskey starts very clean – butterscotch and shortbread. Mid taste goes from dark caramel to coffee. Finish is really great – orange and cinnamon spice.

2. In total agreement with Mr. Smirnis if you prefer smoothness with full strength the Padron Serie 1926 is the way to go. Like Ferris Beuler said, “If you have the means, I highly recommend it.” I paired one with a Santiago de Cuba – Ron Anejo that a friend gave me upon returning from Cuba a few months ago. That is Cuban National Rum, folks. They have been making it the same way with sugar cane from the same fields since 1862. Today, it is ranked in the top 10% of all Rums on the planet. Now you can get it. Spicy on the front end makes me think of Cuban music and food. Mid palate starts to smooth out into biscuits and vanilla. Finish is just the right amount of sweetness to make you want another sip. The complexity of this Ron is the perfect match with the Padron Maduro cigar.

Enjoy, and drink responsibly!

I like the variety listed here. I tend to stay with Ghurka’s and Alec Bradley’s. Bourbon, a good red wine, or dark rum paired with a Prensado.

I have been buying the Padron Serie 1926 No. 90 wherever I can find them which come in a Natural (mild) or Maduro (full body). These were released for Jose Orlando Padron’s 90th birthday. He is a legend and I would recommend looking up his story if you don’t already know it. Either one goes great with a good rum (no shocker there). Mount Gay XO is one example of a good pairing with either the natural or maduro.

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