How To Pair Cigars & Single Malt Whisky
As we stated earlier, cigars and whisky make for one of the most celebrated pairings that you can enjoy. Both offer their own unique flavours, which often marry in a harmonious way.
Of course, not every cigar and whisky pair quite as well as you may hope but there are ways of ensuring that you optimise the smoking experience.
Make Sure Your Cigars Are Well-Stored
A harmonious pairing experience that you’ve taken time to prepare can easily be ruined by a cigar that’s too humid or too dry. If your cigar is too dry, it will burn hot and fast. Similarly, you may lose precious oils that provide the cigar with its flavours.
Meanwhile, a cigar that’s too humid may regularly go out or you could experience a variety of burning issues. Therefore, it’s essential that your cigars are properly stored in advance of the occasion.
We have developed a variety of cigar storage guides, which will help you find out how to best store your cigars. If you’re not a regular cigar smoker, we highly recommend our guide to building a DIY tupperdor, which is quick and easy.
In short, we recommend putting your cigars in an airtight container for a few days or even weeks before you smoke them. We suggest that you use Boveda packs to store your cigars as they’re the easiest and most reliable humidifiers that you can use.
Thanks to a two-way humidification system through reverse osmosis, they will absorb excess humidity while only releasing the right amount. As a result, your cigars will be perfectly fresh when you want to smoke them.
Season & Time Of Day
Firstly, it’s important to bear in mind that the time of day, as well as the season, play a role in determining the best cigar and whisky to enjoy together. Not only do we have different preferences and moods but our palate changes throughout the day too.
You might be unlikely to sip on a whisky in the morning, but you may notice a difference between how it tastes at that moment compared to the evening. Indeed, our palate and perception of value evolve throughout the day.
For instance, you’ll note that our recommended cigars greatly change throughout the following guides:
In the above guides, we explain how our palate is particularly sensitive in the morning. As we’re exposed to more stimuli throughout the day, it effectively becomes numbed and requires greater stimulation later for a similar effect.
We’ve already explained this in detail on several guides and we provide links to them in the paragraph below. However, in a nutshell, our palate is more sensitive in the morning and will eventually require more stimulation from fuller-bodied cigars as it’s exposed to stimulation throughout the day.
The same concept applies during different seasons and you may notice that your sense of smell is more acute in the summer than it is in winter. Therefore, your tastes may fluctuate throughout these different considerations and it’s worth keeping it in mind when choosing your whisky.
Aim For A Similar Body
When choosing your cigar and whisky pairing, the secret is to find balance and harmony by finding both with flavours that accord.
An accord is a term most commonly used in perfumery but is often employed by wine tasters too. However, it can be used in a variety of ways, which is confusing. Firstly, an accord comes from French and means “an agreement”. In this context, it refers to the way two things can pair together.
As we’ll explain below, there are different ways to pair combinations that agree. However, this most important first step is to ensure that your pairings match one another in terms of body and strength.
If the cigar and whisky each have a similar body, they will be able to both be able to express their flavours together. Yet, if one is stronger than the other, the weaker one of the two may be overwhelmed and drowned out.
Meanwhile, an accord in perfumery instead talks about how individual notes or flavours can work together to create a new aroma altogether.
When pairing whisky and cigars, your objective is to ideally achieve both types of accords that were described above. Overall, you’re looking to find two consumables that agree with one another. Meanwhile, if the two can great new and distinctive aroma by combining them, you’re able to heighten the experience!
This can be achieved by complementing and contrasting the flavours individually created by the cigar and whisky. For instance, if a whisky has a similar flavour profile to the cigar, they can complement one another.
Furthermore, if they have similar specific notes, you can even extend it by pairing them together. For example, if a whisky expression and a cigar both feature a certain note such as nutmeg, having both at the same time will extend this nutmeg flavour.
Conversely, you can try to contrast their flavours. This is much more challenging but yields excellent results if you succeed. However, it does risk being disastrous if you fail!
On this occasion, you seek to create an accord by pairing a cigar and a whisky with similar profiles but particular notes that are very different. The objective is for these two contrasting notes to clash just enough that they produce an exciting new flavour that you will enjoy.
Similarly, contrast can be achieved through palate stimulation. This is something that we often explore when reviewing cigars. Some cigars and whisky will focus the stimulation on only one part of the tongue whereas others may spread it all over the palate.
If you’re creative, you can find a whisky that stimulates one part and a cigar that stimulates another. As a result, they work together to stimulate the entire palate. For instance, a cigar that’s slightly sweet can be offset by a whisky that’s a bit bitter.
How Did We Rank These Cigars?
Every cigar in this list has either been fully reviewed or at least formally tasted by us. Therefore, we guarantee that nothing has been included that we haven’t at least tested in a professional setting.
Indeed, we’re very proud of our methodology and believe that it yields accurate results. Every cigar is tested or reviewed using the Bespoke Unit Cigar Formula. This review matrix was designed over several years to produce a quantifiable score system that we can use with our articles.
We first launched it with the Avo Nicaragua review in August 2019 and we’ve included it in all reviews since then. However, we’ve continued to tweak and improve it along the way!
As a result, we were able to use the quantified scoring for putting together these guides. Therefore, you can be certain that our guides have been assembled by conviction rather than guesswork.
Firstly, did we miss anything out? Feel free to let us know in the comments below! Otherwise, now that you’ve seen the best cigars for whisky, why don’t you also check out our related guides below?