From celebrating milestones to finding solace after a long day, cigars offer a calming effect with their rich aroma and distinct flavor, while the right liquor enhances the sensory journey, bringing out intoxicating aromas and elevating the overall enjoyment.
For those who revel in the pleasures of cigars and fine spirits, a question frequently arises is: which types of liquor should be paired with our beloved cigars? Pursuing the perfect combination that unlocks intoxicating aromas and creates unforgettable sensory experiences is a quest that ignites our passion. To aid you on this journey, we have meticulously compiled a curated list of liquors, each carefully selected to enhance the flavors and elevate the sensory allure of your smoke.
One of the popular drinks that go well with cigars is Cognac. Cognac is a category of brandy sourced from white grapes native to the Cognac region of France. Traditionally, both cigars and Cognac were enjoyed following meals. The beverage will therefore make a perfect accompaniment for those looking for something to sip on after dinner. Cognac has an earthy, woody flavor and aroma that pairs beautifully with cigars. One critical thing to remember when buying cognac is the age. To get the best sensory experience, always select well-aged bottles for your cigars. Here are a few other quick tips to keep in mind:
- Bottles labeled with VS (Very Special) are of the lowest age category. They may not be ideal for consuming with your cigars.
- Bottles marked VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) has been aged for longer, usually four years or more. Such bottles are ideal for your cigar-smoking experience.
Best cognac labels for your cigars
There are several types of Cognacs available to choose from based on your budget and preferences. Here is a brief list of popular cognac brands to consider:
- The Remy Martin Louis XIII: If you are looking for a perfect cognac brand to deliver a romantic feel, the Remy Martin Louis XIII is the best option. The drink will undoubtedly impress your date and bring out the unique combination of aromatic and tasting notes in your cigars.
- The Courvoisier Napoléon Cognac: This drink boasts an inherent tobacco-tasting note, making it an ideal option to pair with your cigar. Its flavors will undoubtedly swim well with the aromas and tastes of a fine cigar.
- Frapin Cigar Blends XO Cognac: This label is the best if you are looking for an extra special dinner treat. It boasts a combination of vanilla, hazelnut, and dried fruit notes that matches the flavors of a suave cigar.
- Gautier xo Pinar del Rio cigar cognac: This is undeniably the best choice for your evening indulgence. The beverage delivers intense flavors and aromas complemented by sweet and woody-tasting notes. Its complex flavors can stand up to the smoke of a fine cognac.
If you are a whiskey lover, scotch and bourbon are the premium options offering the perfect flavors to care for your palate demands while smoking your favorite cigars. Generally, there are no hard and quick rules when it comes to pairing your whiskey and cigars. Your main goal is to find the right balance that works for you. So don't fear experimenting until you find the perfect match. However, here are a few tips to get you started in your search for the perfect pair:
- Consider profile flavor: It's crucial to consider the flavor profiles of both your whiskey and cigars. For example, a high-rye bourbon or peaty scotch will be ideal if you need a bolder flavor. If you desire a delicate flavor, opt for a whited bourbon or single malt whiskey.
- Consider the strength: You should also think about the strength of both your beverage and the cigar. A full-bodied sugar blends well with a bolder whiskey, while milder cigars pair well with a powerful spirit.
Best whiskeys to pair with a cigar
Here are a few whiskeys to get you started:
- Woodford Double Oaked: If you are looking for an ideal drink to add an extra touch of sophistication to your leisurely afternoon smoke, Woodford Double Oaked has you covered. This is a perfect spirit for sipping neat or the rocks. It is loaded with sweet notes, making it a perfect match for a good cigar.
- Eagle Rare: Eagle Rare boasts a unique flavor profile that features fruity and complex notes. This makes it ideal for pairing with light to medium cigars. If you are looking for a special bourbon to enjoy with your pricey cigar, be sure to give this drink a try.
- Russell's Reserve 10 years: At a glance, you can easily dismiss this simple, unassuming bottle of bourbon as just another standard drink with few added benefits. However, you should not let its lack of flashy packaging fool you. Russell's Reserve is a complex, well-rounded spirit that hits all the right sensory notes, especially when paired with a cigar. It delivers a robust, full-bodied flavor that lingers on the palate for a long time making it an ideal option for a heavier, more full-bodied smoke.
- Speyburn 15: Speyburn 15 is a versatile scotch that can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks. It delivers a well-rounded flavor profile, complete with honey, oak, and citrus notes that pair well with your cigar.
Cigars and rum enjoy a long and rich history that spans decades. The sweetness of rum combines amazingly well with the rich aroma of cigars. However, opt for dark Cuban rum over white rum to get the best out of your cigar. The latter is generally used more as a mixer and may not deliver the same effect when paired with a cigar. The rules are relatively easy to follow when it comes to matching cigars and rum. The focal point is to match the smoky flavor of cigars with smoky-flavored rum. Here are a few more rules to keep in mind when choosing the perfect rum drink for your cigars:
- Match intensity of flavor: Mild cigars go well with light or un-aged rum, while medium cigars marry well with medium rum. On the other hand, spicy cigars go well with spicy rums.
- Match the body: If you are smoking a full-bodied cigar, make sure you look for equally powerful rum.
- Match country to country: If you are smoking a Cuban cigar, opting for a Cuban rum is an excellent way to get the authentic flavor you desire.
Best rums for your cigars
To get the most out of your cigars, try the following cigar/rum pairings:
- Appleton Estate aged 21 years: Appleton Estate aged 21 is a full-body rum that gives off a fruity flavor. It boasts complex hints of cinnamon and licorice that blend with banana, apple, and pear to help bring out hidden flavors in your favorite cigar.
- Flor de Cana: If you are smoking a high-end and luxurious cigar, opt for this equally luxurious drink. Flor de Cana is produced in the deep bowels of Nicaragua and was the best rum overall winner in 2017. It is a complex rum that delivers hints of wood and chocolate. Its sweet flavors make it ideal for a rich and dark-flavored cigar.
- Havana Club Anejo Clasico: Made in Puerto Rico, this drink follows the original Havana Club recipe from Cuba. It is aged for a minimum of three years before being stored for another three months in oak made barrel. If you are in the market for a budget-friendly drink that still tastes luxurious, choose Havana Club. It pairs well with medium-quality cigars like the Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real. The cigar's creamy flavor brings out the drink's vanilla and brown sugar flavors.
- Cockspur Vsor 12: This Barbados-produced rum is an ideal choice for creamy cigars and those with hints of leather or wood. The rum gives off hints of allspice, ginger, molasses, banana, and bread dough.
With the lovely warm weather approaching, you may want to drop hard spirits for a little bit of wine. Champagne and cigars can be a perfect pairing option to add fun to the cheery summer mood. The cleansing power of the bubbles that champagne gives off enhances the flavor of your cigar. Besides, champagne's reduced alcoholic content offers more aromatic perception and finesse than hard spirits. To enhance your champagne and cigar enjoyment, here are a few essential tips:
- Stick with mild cigars: Your goal is to find two elements that work together harmoniously without overpowering the taste of the other. Consider the textures, aromas, and overall experience of the drink vis-a-vis your favorite cigar. Generally, champagne doesn't taste as strong as other alcohols like whiskey. You should therefore opt for mild cigars that can't mask the more delicate tastes of champagne.
- Choose a bubbly drink: One reason to sip a glass of champagne as you enjoy your favorite cigar is the bubbles the drink gives off. Champagne has unmatched fizziness that refreshes and cleanses your palate. With every sip of the drink, your mouth feels refreshed. That is why you should choose a drink with as many bubbles as possible. This will undoubtedly come in handy when looking to mask the complex flavors of a strong cigar.
- Avoid high acidity: It is crucial to choose a champagne drink that is not too high in acidity. Drinks with high acid content can mar the flavors of your cigars.
Best champagne brands to pair with cigars
Here are a few champagne brands that can pair well with your cigars:
- Salon Blanc De Blancs Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger: This champagne drink has rich, complex aromas that entice your taste buds. It pairs well with the subtle flavors of cigars such as the Goldwin Louis Rosado. This combination will surely deliver a hint of elegance to your tongue, enhancing your relaxation.
- Charles Heidsieck champagne Charlie '85: The Charles Heidsieck champagne Charlie '85 boasts subtle but delicious flavors with hints of almonds, hazelnuts, and rich fruit. This makes it a perfect drink to pair with a medium-bodied cigar for a warm night in the cold outdoors. It is a perfect match for the rarest and highest-rated cigarettes, such as the Opus X.
- Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut: This drink delivers rich layers of complex flavors of sweet honey and cream with mild-bodied flavors. It boasts a level of subtlety that brings out the best in mild cigars. You can pair it with cigar brands such as Gran Reserva from Arturo Fuente, Baccarat Natural, Cao Gold, Cohiba Connecticut, and Davidoff Grand CRU.
Cigars and beer may seem to be an odd combination since many people associate cigars with wine and hard liquor. However, the fact is, beer and cigars can perfectly blend well, provided you know how to pair them. Beers are rich in aromas, flavors, and taste to deliver a match made in heaven when paired with the right cigar. Beer's carbonation attribute helps soothe and hydrate the palate to bring out both the aromas of the cigar. However, choosing the right combination can be tricky. The crucial thing to remember is that cigar and beer matchmaking is a sensory experience, and what you love may not be the exact preference of another person. The best way to match the two is to try different combinations to determine what suits you the best.
Pro tip: The rule of thumb is to pair the color of the wrapper with the color of the beer and vice versa. For example, light wrappers imply the cigar was aged for a shorter period. Such younger cigars often taste fresher and more acidic, making them ideal for mild beers. Here are a few other rules to pair your cigars with beer:
- Lighter beers match well with more mild cigars
- Medium-bodied beers, including those on the bitter side, pair well with medium-bodied cigars
- Darker and heavier beers go well with more full-bodied cigars
Best beers to match with cigars
Here are a few craft beer selections to match your favorite cigars:
- A Blonde Ale or Pilsner: Pilsner and Blonde Ale offer a smooth, mellow flavor profile that pairs well with equally mellow to medium-bodied cigars such as the original Montecristo classic cigars. The rich, creamy textured notes of spice, graham cracker, and leather that you get from your cigar deliver a classic marriage made in heaven when you match it with your favorite pilsner or blonde ale. Other great mellow to medium-bodied cigars to match with your beer include Rocky Patel Vintage, Macanudo Café, And Don Diego, among many others.
- Stout or Porter: Stout or Porter is a great choice if you are looking for a strong companion for your fuller-bodied cigar. These beers are typically heavier than alcohol, flavor, and mouthfeel, making them an ultimate pair for full-bodied cigars with equally bold flavors. The cigar will temper the beer's sweetness, while the stout or porter will bring out the originally missing flavors from the cigar.
- Malt: Malty beer tends to be on the sweeter side owing to the heavy use of grains. The beers are fuller in density and mouthfeel, making them ideal for cigars that have complimentary flavors and strength. Pairing them with a medium to full-bodied cigar such as Cohiba can be a great way to balance the aroma and strength.
Tips for pairing drinks and cigars
There are several methods for pairing alcoholic drinks and cigars. As mentioned earlier, consider experimenting with different techniques before arriving at an ideal match. Here are a few tips to guide you:
Know your palate
In the context of dining, your palate is your personal context regarding tastes and flavors. To begin at "the beginning," get to know yourself. Don't pair a spirit you have never tried or don't enjoy alone. This is the same case with your cigars. While a particular cigar may go well with a young red wine, if you don't like the taste of the red wine, you simply don't have the context to enjoy your pairing.
Learn the art of tasting
If you are a novice, don't follow all the recommendations blindly. Invest time in learning how to taste your preferred product. Combining liquor and cigars is an ongoing event with phases that require time to master. While at it, use your internal dialogue to describe what you taste. This will help you remember worthwhile tastes and develop a frame of reference for comparing individual tastes. You should not ignore your other senses either, especially regarding cigars. The smell is incredibly crucial, and so do sight and touch.
Match body with body
The first experimental method to consider is to match the body with the body by choosing pairing notes. For example, if you are smoking a full-bodied and earthy cigar, look for a full-bodied drink also, like a complex and earthy whiskey or heavy red wine. The goal is to ensure your cigar doesn't overpower your drink or that your choice of drink doesn't cancel the cigar. In a nutshell, strive to achieve a balance of harmony. If you are just starting, stick to the basics, such as pairing cigars with peaty scotch or red wine. Generally, white wine, pilsners, gin, and vodka are notoriously challenging to pair well. If any of these beverage categories is your drink of choice, start with the lightest cigar and increase your body until you achieve a balance.
Contrast body and flavor
To maximize the flavors brought out in both the cigar and drink, consider the "complimentary method." Ideally, choose a cigar and a drink that contract each other in flavor and body. For example, if you love mellow and sweet cigars, opt for deep rich, and heavier whiskey or wine to pair them.
Understand the origin
Another factor that you should not overlook is the origin of your drink. For example, rum originating in the Caribbean tends to go well with various cigar brands from the Dominican Republic. However, this doesn't mean you can't pair your rum with cigars from elsewhere. This is only a great starting point for when unsure of where to start. If you are looking for the best wine to pair with your cigar, seek an option that uses grapes from the same origin where the tobacco is grown.
Being adventurous may be the only way to grow as a budding aficionado. You won't know what you love and dislike until you try several options. Once in a while, go rogue and defy the standard guidelines. For example, you can pair a light-bodied cigar and stout to find the combination that works or learn from your own mistakes. Remember, there is no such thing as a "wrong" pairing. Your palate is totally unique to you. It can change or evolve, so it pays to make preferences based on your context.
Do cigars pair with wine?
Yes! Wine pairs perfectly well with cigars. The wine's craft, body, and flavors marry well into the cigar flavors. For example, pairing cigars with red wine is the most preferred pairing type for wine. Red wine is generally aromatic with full-bodied flavors. This makes it ideal for pairing with medium to full-bodied cigars.
Can I dip cigars in liquor?
A popular trend today is to dip cigars in alcohols like wine, whiskey, or even cognac. Dipping cigars in your favorite drink before lighting can be a fun way to add a unique flavor to the smoke experience.
Can I pair cigars with coffee?
Of course, you can! The trick is to choose a coffee and a cigar that share similar flavor profiles. For example, mild cigars pair well with a light roast coffee. A medium-strength cigar would pair well with a medium-roast coffee.
Get the finest cigar accessories
When choosing the best drink for your cigar, focus on flavors and weights that blend well with your cigar. A full-bodied beverage complements a full-bodied cigar, whereas the more delicate beverages such as champagne or prosecco demand a lighter cigar. At Northwoods Humidors, we are a retailer that sells cigar humidors and cigar-smoking accessories. Whether you are shopping for a thoughtful gift for a friend or a self-purchase, we have the right accessories for you. Start shopping today.