It’s an age-old debate. Do I pair my fine cigar with scotch, bourbon, beer or wine? Even the most seasoned cigar smokers and spirit connoisseurs can sometimes find themselves at a loss when pairing drinks with cigars. But the fact is, the answer is literally right on the tip of your tongue. It is simply a matter of learning how to taste.
You already use your natural tasting abilities when you season that steak you are grilling. Your palate tells you what you like. The same holds true for pairing cigars with spirits. Few things are more satisfying than pairing your favorite cigar with a suitable libation. Some classic pairings with cigars are cognac, single malt whisky, bourbon, rum, rye, and port. With the exception of tequila, most white spirits such as vodka do not work as well because the cigar will overpower the drink.
Of course, there are always exceptions. Some red wines and certain beers can also make a great match with cigars. The key is to not to let the drink dominate the cigar or vice versa. For example, a light-bodied cigar will go well with some white wines, young reds or blended scotches. Medium-bodied smokes are great with most Irish whiskeys, rums, bourbons, ryes and ports. Full-bodied smokes are a perfect match with peaty Islay and heavier Highland single malts.
Pairing cigars with wines and spirits is just one part of the equation. Craft beer and even some cocktails can make for great pairings, too. But in the end, your taste is the final judge as to what will work and what won’t when it comes to pairing cigars and spirits. Have fun testing out different smoke and drink combinations and develop your own perfect pairings.