Whiskey and Cigars: Pairing Life's Luxuries
Written by Jennifer Jordan
Filed Under: Single Malt Scotch
Like two peas in a pod of the luxury world, cigars and whiskey can often be found together. Both known as two of the finer things in life, when used jointly, they work to enhance the drinking and smoking experience. This is particularly true when the drink being consumed is single malt scotch. Known as the Cuban cigar of the whiskey world, single malt scotch is the perfect drink to take out for a smoke.
What is Single Malt Scotch?
While many people know what single malt scotch entails, some people may not be completely clear. But, in actuality, the concept of single malt scotch is singularly simple: single malt scotch is essentially barely-malt whiskey made in Scotland that comes from only one distillery, allowing it to carry distinct aromas and flavors. In terms of whiskeys, single malt scotch is the most laudable: the Scottish have the title of world's greatest whiskey in the bag-pipe.
Why are Cigars a Good Fit with Single Malt Scotch?
Cigars and single malt scotch have similar mantras: they both invoke specifics of the land and the maker; tobacco plants and barley both aim to remember their roots. To demonstrate this, cigars from different regions have different flavors: a Dominican Republic cigar will taste different than a cigar from Honduras. This is because each cigar aims to capture the distinct taste of the land and of the tobacco manufacturer, leaving no two cigar brands alike. Single Malt Scotch is the only type of whiskey that possesses this same ability; giving drinkers a cup of originality.
Some whiskeys journey through so many distilleries that they - like a whiskey that has drank too much of itself - forget who they are. This results in a whiskey with flavors that are vague, with little semblance to the roots of their homeland. Single Malt Scotch, however, stands out because it is processed through a single distillery. In addition, while other whiskeys can contain mixtures of corn, wheat, and unmalted barley, single malt scotch uses malted barely as the sole grain ingredient. This, ultimately, succeeds in instilling single malt scotch with the true taste of Scotland.
What Kinds of Cigars Compliment Single Malt Scotch?
There are a variety of cigars that compliment certain whiskeys, as if telling them that they have nice ryes. With single malt scotch, however, there are certain cigars for which this feat is tailor made; there are certain cigars that go better with single malt scotch than with nearly anything else.
There are two main routes to take when complimenting single malt scotch. The first route couples a mild cigar with a mild single malt scotch while the other route couples a strong cigar with a strong single malt scotch.
Mild Cigar and Mild Single Malt
When pairing a mild cigar with a mild single malt, the outcome isn't just a bunch of mildness: the mild cigar and mild single malt won't cause an urge to meditate among those who consume them. Instead, the mildness of each works together to enhance each other, resulting in a very unique experience.
A Highland Park single malt scotch and a La Flor Dominicana are examples of two things that go well together, tag teaming each other to create a truly luxurious experience. Highland Park scotches are known for being smooth, balanced, and filled with overtones of honey. A La Flor Dominicana is a mild cigar with anything but mild flavor, filled with the tastes of the Dominican Republic. When consumed together, a Highland Park and a La Flor Dominicana work together to enhance the experience, drawing out the best attributes of the tobacco and the whiskey.
Strong Cigar and Strong Single Malt
Pairing together a strong cigar with a strong single malt may seem like asking for trouble, as if each item will try to be stronger than the other, ultimately arm wrestling to see who has to pay the bar tab. However strong each item is, when paired together, they actually work with each other, complimenting each other's strengths and erasing weaknesses.
A nice strong scotch is the Lagavulin Single Malt. Characterized by peatiness and iodine overtones, the Lagavulin couples well with the Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970, a very full bodied, robust cigar. When this scotch and this cigar are consumed together, the result is a very flavorful, potent, and, above all, smoky experience. For this reason, if this experience could talk, it would sound like Beau Arthur.
What Kind of Cigars Contrast with Single Malt Scotch?
On the other end of the spectrum, there are a variety of cigars that contrast with single malt scotch, hitting heads to offset each other. Because these cigars and whiskeys have different attributes - putting the weak with the strong and vice versa - it may seem like these pairings will result in some sort of rivalry: the cigars and the scotch brawl, the fight ensuing until the cigars are crushed and the scotch tipped over. But, in actuality, the contrast works rather well.
There are two main routes to take when contrasting with single malt scotch. The first route couples a strong cigar with a mild single malt scotch while the other route couples a mild cigar with a strong single malt scotch.
Strong Cigar and Mild Single Malt
Pairing together a strong cigar with a mild single malt has the ability to take away from the pungency of the cigar, arming the single malt with a little more gusto. This results not in the cigar losing its flavor, but in the scotch becoming enhanced. As both a full body and mild body meet in the middle, the result is sure to please about anybody, whether they themselves are full or mild..
A very mild single malt scotch is a Dalwhinnie. Known for being slightly peaty and very aromatic, the Dalwhinnie is about as smooth as they come. It's full of sweet flavor and tastes a bit like it's coated in honey. A Dalwhinnie goes perfectly with a La Aurora 100 Anos. Made from very rare Corjo tobacco, these cigars are full of flavor and body. When taken together, the Dalwhinnie and La Aurora work to provide an experience that is strong and mild in all the right places.
Mild Cigar and Strong Single Malt
A mild cigar can use a good strong single malt, a strong drink that can provide enhancement, smoothness, and open the humidor when the lid's on too tight. Like pairing a strong cigar with a mild single malt, the attributes of both enhance each other, like opposites that attract, pulling the best characteristics out.
The Laphroaig single malt scotch is among the strongest flavored scotches around. While these are typically aged for ten years, some rare ones are as old as 40. While some people have found that the peaty aroma of the whiskey is enhanced by adding a bit of water, others find that it is enhanced by smoking a Macanudo. Macanudo cigars may as well be synonymous with the word "mellow" as they fill the smoker with a sense of smoothing calm. When consumed together, the Laphroaig and the Macanudo work together to supply the consumer with a mellow peatiness.
Overall, these two things go together as well as any dynamic duo: Laurel and Hardy, Laverne and Shirley, Cigar and Single Malt. While some cigars complement single malt scotch, others contrast with it. But, both equations equal satisfaction. Allowing the true flavors of each other's lands, cigars and scotch single malt work to bring together the best of all cultures involved, leaving the world a little smaller, and a little more luxurious.