Scotch and Cigars: What You Need to Know to Create the Perfect Pairing

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  • There’s nothing quite like relaxing with an excellent Scotch and a good cigar at the end of the day. There are many different varieties of Scotch, and your enjoyment depends entirely on your palate. There are a few unique ideas you may not have encountered when looking for the perfect whisky to match your cigar. Whether it's your first time or you're a seasoned veteran of cigar and whisky pairings, there is always something new to learn.

    If you're just starting out, one rule of thumb to remember is that strong cigars go best with strong whisky. Mild cigars match light whiskies best, and so forth. This is a good starting point for making your selection when faced with the question of what type of cigar to pair with your whisky. It's a good idea to read up on the different types of whisky and what sets them apart from each other. A Speyside malt will be much different than a whisky from Islay, for example. Learning about cigar types will also help you make a good choice. A rudimentary knowledge of what you're looking for will be beneficial when you are making your purchases.

    We have compiled a few suggestions for those who are making their first forays into the pairing experience. We tend to prefer a peatier single malt, but do offer some alternatives. Here are a few different ideas to get you started on your journey.

    1. Bruichladdich Black Art, First Cask and Undercrown Shade Robusto

      This delicious whisky has become rarer now that Black Art has moved on to other casks, but the first cask pour of this Islay malt is one-of-a-kind. The whisky is garnet red in the glass and its sherry-cask history offers a sweeter finish over the smoky, peaty flavor common to Islay whiskies. Black Art is best paired with an Undercrown Shade Robusto. Its citrus notes complement the sherry cask flavors in the whisky, an irresistible combination.

    2. Bruichladdich PC8 and Cuban cigars

      If peatiness is your favorite aspect of whisky, you have been missing out if you haven’t tried Bruichladdich PC8. One of the peatiest whiskies offered by the distillery, Port Charlotte 8 is a strong, bold malt best paired with a strong Cuban cigar, like a Bolivar or Partagas. PC8 is reminiscent of its island origin, where the peat-smoke scent on the wind greets you as you step off the ferry onto Port Askaig in the rain.

    3. Glenfiddich 18 Years & Romeo and Julieta cigars

      Not everyone enjoys the smoke of a heavy peat whisky. Glenfiddich, much like other Speyside malts, is much sweeter. Hints of pear and other fruits accompany this honeylike whisky that still has a kick going down. Glenfiddich is best paired with a lighter cigar like the Romeo and Julietas once favored by Winston Churchill. The creamy, aromatic smoke pairs well with the sweeter taste of Glenfiddich.

    4. Isle of Jura Superstition

      Jura is the island across from Islay, and only has a single distillery. There are more deer on Jura than there are people, and it is where George Orwell wrote his masterpiece, 1984. Superstition is Jura’s most famous whisky. It is a single malt, but a blend of two different ages of whisky. Superstition has a light, peaty flavor that is not as strong as the other whiskies on this list. It has notes of fruit and is quite a light, interesting Scotch. This island blend is best paired with a lighter cigar, such as a Baccarat. The lighter flavors tend to enhance each other. If your cigar choice is too strong, it can overpower the taste of the whisky.

    5. Bruichladdich Yellow Submarine

      This pairing is more for the story that comes with it than the particular flavor. For a long time, Bruichladdich was a locally-owned distillery, and they made specialty or novelty whiskies depending upon what had happened recently. For example, they made a whisky for Harrison Ford. The Yellow Submarine label is accompanied by a story familiar to those who have ever lived on any kind of island.

      One day, some fishermen at the Port Charlotte pier noticed something in the water. It turned out to be an unmanned submarine. They called the Royal Navy to tell them about it. “Is this yours?” they asked. “We don’t know what you’re talking about,” said the Royal Navy. “You sure?” asked the people of Islay. “It’s got Ministry of Defence stamped on the side.” “We assure you we have never heard of it,” said the Royal Navy. A few weeks later, some people from the Royal Navy came by and rather shamefacedly towed their submarine away. In response, Bruichladdich produced Yellow Submarine, and honestly this will pair with just about any kind of cigar because having a story like this to tell about your whisky while you’re smoking is really the entire point of the exercise in the first place. Yellow Submarine is filled with a delicious 14-year-old Islay malt, so the quality is superb.

      Overall, the best pairings for whisky and cigars are the ones you like best. While you can read up on any and every pairing or combination, or take suggestions from a bar, in the end all of us have different palates. Just like food, we may prefer taste combinations that seem strange to other people, but work very well for us. Keep exploring and find out your own preferences when it comes to your preferred smoke and tipple.

      Cigars and whisky go together well. They complement each other and bring out the different subtle flavors in each. There are countless different whiskies and cigars to choose from, and you may find a lifelong passion in discovering the perfect pairing. If it’s your first time pairing whisky and cigars, this will introduce you to an enduring love of enjoying a smoke while relaxing in your chair, sipping good whisky and telling stories.

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