How to pair cigars and whiskey like a pro
Whiskey seems to be one of the most classic matches when it comes to cigar and drinks combinations. And the truth is that indeed, thanks to the potent aroma, smooth taste and the ideal concentration of alcohol, whiskey is one of the best buddies of the stogies. Choosing the right combination can be tricky in most of the occasions, mainly because there are countless delicious pairs to enjoy. It is indeed a subjective experience but there are some guidelines that you can follow in order to achieve the ultimate tasting experience.
Malt or grain?
Malt whiskey is made from malted barley grain, therefore being a single grain type of whiskey. It is one of the most common types found on the market and it features the classic taste but without being too strong. The aging process is usually quite short and this is why this particular type tends to be very smooth. It is best combined with light-bodied cigars because they are in the same strength league.
Grain whiskey can be made from corn, rye, wheat or even rice and the base grain will usually be featured in the name. In particular, corn whiskeys tend to have a sweeter and stronger taste while wheat whiskey is often defined as being on the more bitter side. Rye whiskey tends to balance both aromas, being a very versatile choice. Rice whiskey is rather acidic but still very smooth and it gains more and more popularity on the market nowadays.
All these types are best enjoyed next to a medium to full-bodied cigar like Cohiba Esplendidos. The cigar is very well-balanced in terms of taste and it will manage to thrill your taste buds while highlighting the tones of the whiskey.
Single cask or blended?
The terms single cask refers to the fact that the whiskey was not combined with any other type. This type has a very specific taste that depends very much on the producer and it will have the cask information on the label. There are many producers that use different types of wood casks for aging and some choose to infuse the interior of the cask for a greater aroma.
Blended whiskey tends to be very smooth and have great variations in terms of taste. These variations change from producer to producer but in general, they can be described as whiskeys that are full of personality. This strong statement means that they have to be combined with a matching cigar like an H.Upmann. This way you will be able to enjoy a burst of flavor while still being able to distinguish the drink from the cigar.
Old or new?
This is definitely one of the most difficult questions, even for a connoisseur. In general, older whiskeys tend to have a more concentrated aroma while the younger ones are on the more milder and smoother side. But obviously, there can also be exceptions from this rule. As a general guideline, older whiskeys work very well with aged cigars from the Maduro category because they are both full of taste and personality.
For the younger whiskeys, the best pairs are mild and medium-bodied cigars but this can differ from person to person.
On ice or not?
The classic way in which we are served whiskey is with a large block of ice in the middle of the glass. The experts say that whiskey should not be enjoyed very cold because the aroma will be weaker and we will not be able to sense it. Also, as the ice block melts the whiskey dilutes and so does the aroma. So, how should we drink it?
The ice issue is definitely a matter of personal taste. But as a professional piece of advice, if you want to cool down the drink you should use whiskey stones. They are specially made for this purpose and they will not dilute your drink.
If you choose to drink the whiskey without ice, you should keep it at room temperature before consumption, without being exposed to sun, excessive heat or excessive cold because otherwise, the aroma will fade away with time.