Whether it is a cigar and scotch pairing or any cigar and liquor pairing, even experienced cigar smokers and spirit connoisseurs can find themselves at a loss when pairing cigars and drinks. In fact, figuring out which drinks to pair with cigars strikes many as a mystery. But, it’s a mystery that can be solved using the tip of your tongue…
Pairing a drink with a cigar is like choosing a fine wine for your dinner. It takes skill and experience to know the perfect match. Nevertheless, we are here to provide you with some guidance in the world of fine cigars and spirits.
The truth is that you already use your natural tasting abilities when you select the dressing to put on a salad or decide which wine to pair with your dinner. Your palate tells you what is right for you. And the more you use your sense of taste, the more refined it becomes.
When selecting a good drink to go with your cigar, in general, you should try to match relative flavors and weights. A full-bodied cigar calls for a full-bodied drink, while a light-bodied dink calls for a far lighter cigar.
The golden rule is that the cigar shouldn’t overpower the drink, and vice-versa. The key is balancing the strength and the flavors perfectly to achieve a delicate balance of both. When it comes to cigar pairings, simply match the body of the drink to the body of the cigar. Also, if you are smoking a premium, hand-crafted cigar like an El Septimo, it is advised not to pair it with a lesser quality drink, as this can hinder your cigar-smoking experience. After all, a high-quality cigar demands a high-quality drink.
It doesn’t just end at matching the strength of your cigar with the strength of your beverage, though. There are a lot more nuance in the flavors of an El Septimo cigar than this, which requires finding the perfect match to compliment your flavor bomb of a cigar. El Septimo Cigars have a wide array of flavors and underlying aromas that can impact your choice of drink. Some cigars have hints of nuts, while others are woody with a slight presence of vanilla. Nonetheless, each cigar is a unique experience, crafted to exacerbate a specific blend of flavors, textures and aromas, so one should be careful to pick a drink that complements the experience of your El Septimo cigar entirely.
The Best Pairings to a Cigar
Generally, the best spirits to pair with cigars are scotch, cognac, single malt whiskey, bourbon and port. These are all dark spirits that complement the complex flavors of cigars nicely. You’ll want to stay away from most white spirits like tequila, vodka and gin, as the cigar will overpower the drink.
Cognac is the traditional, almost clichéd, drink to pair with cigars. This is largely because of timing – both are usually taken after meals and so they naturally became linked. Arguably, there is no better drink to combine with a cigar after a meal. When buying cognac, pay attention to the age designation of the bottle. VS (Very Special) is the lowest category of age, and should generally be ignored for pairing with cigars. The middle age bracket is designated VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) and indicates ageing of at least four and a half years. Mild and medium-bodied cigars particularly go well with this age of cognac.
In the world of spirits, small batch and single barrel Bourbons and single malt Scotches are premium products that have the complexity and depth of flavor to stand up to a cigar. The smoky quality of fine single malt, derived from the smoked peat used to filter the spirit, marries perfectly with a good cigar. The small batch Bourbons are bottled at a higher proof level, which gives them a backbone of strong flavors, as they marry well with medium- and full-bodied cigars.
Port is a traditional partner for a great cigar. The sweetness and alcoholic power of vintage Port blends perfectly with a full-bodied smoke; even younger vintage Ports are appropriate because their strong tannins stand up to a spicy smoke. Nonvintage styles such as tawny Port also complement a cigar nicely because of the woody characteristics they acquire during long barrel ageing.
There are also many variations and types of coffee drinks, including those which are non-alcoholic (such as Cappuccino, Cafe Mocha, Cafe con Leche, and Cuban Coffee). However, we are lumping them all into this one category. To recommend only one, try coffee with Irish Cream. It tastes great, and will greatly enhance your cigar smoking experience. And when using Bailey’s, there’s really no need to add sugar or cream. Delicious!
Your Guide to Finding the Perfect Pairing for Your El Septimo
So, finally we can answer the question – which is the best drink to pair with your El Septimo cigar?
For a full-bodied El Septimo Cigar, it is recommended to pair it with an aged cognac, scotch or whisky. Generally, the distillation process of these drinks infuses them with a variety of flavors that are enhanced by the ageing in wood barrels. The result is a strong and complex drink that should complement your El Septimo cigar just right rather than overpowering it, With this in mind, pair a full-bodied cigar, such as the Short Dream Topaze part of The Diamond Collection, with a glass of Hibiki 17 Year Old Japanese whiskey. This whiskey has a golden caramel color that instantly exudes aromas of toffee malt and an orange peel with smoky nuts. The Short Dream Topaze cigar and the Hibiki pairing are a perfect combination, as the beverage perfectly complements and balances the cedar, coffee and light cream notes present in the cigar, leaving behind the perfect after-taste while really gripping the tongue and roof of your mouth.
A medium-bodied cigar, such as the Double Shot part of The Diamond Collection, has a recommend pairing with a glass of Glenbdronach 15 Year Old Revival Scotch Whiskey. The Double Shot cigar offers a dark, oily, and beautifully constructed Maduro wrapper with hints of cedar and pine aromas. This whiskey is a dusty amber color and provides rich, deep sugars with welcoming bright fruit notes. The spice in this whiskey pairs perfectly with the white pepper present in the Double Shot El Septimo Cigar, providing a very aromatic and complex experience. After about one inch in smoking the Double Shot, you will pick up on the white pepper notes, which remain mild and very balanced.
Finally, if you’re smoking a lighter cigar, such as the Excepcion Light part of The Luxus Collection, pair it with a Highland Park 18 Year Old Scotch Whisky. The Excepcion Light offers a dark, oily Maduro wrapper with earthy espresso notes and hints of black pepper on the tongue. The cigar offers a beautiful white smoke with an even burn and draw, burning perfectly throughout and ending with hints of coca powder and espresso bean. This whiskey starts out with floral notes and develops into honeyed fruit flavors of papaya and mango. Overall, the whiskey’s texture is creamy with notes of espresso and cocoa powder, which pair perfectly with the Excepcion Light. The two provide the perfect light pairing that ends with a nice, long finish.
Discover Your Own Preferences
Once you begin your pairing journey, you will start to understand the best pairings from your own palate and experience. Each person’s taste and preferences are unique, but these suggestions are simply a starting point that should help you begin in the right direction. Eventually, once you have developed your senses and refined your smell and taste, you may get a little more adventurous and step outside of the usual pairing and trying something bolder. As you progress in the world of cigars and spirits, you will start to understand that there are endless possibilities of combinations and you will become more and more eager to try new pairings that accentuate the flavors, textures, aromas, and overall experience that your luxury cigar and spirit provide you with. Just don’t forget that the most important concept in pairing a drink with a cigar is achieving balance, so you should drink in moderation and always smoke the best of the best, which is an El Septimo!