Cigarticle: Cigars and Spirits
Lovers of The Good Life from around the world have long embraced the practice of pairing cigars and drinks. The goal is to develop a complete yet balanced sense of stimulation on your palate. Discretion is necessary when selecting the proper cigar to accompany a drink. There are two common methods. The easiest is to match common flavors. Smoke a fuller-bodied cigar with a fuller-bodied drink. However, with a bit of creativity, finding contrasting flavors that can then marry on your palate can ultimately be more interesting and satisfying. Here are a few of my favorite combinations.
Bourbon Whiskey and a Davidoff Aniversario No. 3.
The Davidoff Aniversario No. 3 is a Toro forma. Its large ring gauge provides a cool smoke and allows for complexity in the full-bodied blend. The Bourbon's generally smooth character is enhanced by the cigar's balance of subtle spice and hint of sweetness. Just as bourbon should be sipped slowly, the Aniversario No. 3 is not a cigar to be rushed. This combination is the perfect end to a long day.
Scotch Whisky (Single Malt) and a Davidoff Special R Tubo
Scotch Whisky is a common match with a cigar. It's a complex spirit with flavors that tend to dominate your palate. The prevalent notes of wood, spice, vanilla, and peat stimulate all the regions of your mouth. More often than not people choose a heavy cigar to smoke with a Scotch. This will often lead to the flavors fighting in your mouth and over-stimulating your palate. The Davidoff Special R Tubo smokes creamy yet rich. The Connecticut shade wrapper adds a touch of bitterness that helps to even out the sweeter aspects of the Scotch. The cedar-lined tube brings a unique hint of wood and nuttiness to the smoke. A robusto sized cigar, this match is a great break during your day or to finish a late lunch.
Cognac and a Davidoff Millennium Churchill.
Nothing completes a perfect dinner better than cognac and a cigar. Perhaps the most popular Brandy, it's full body and wide spectrum of flavors lends itself to pair well with many different cigars. A Churchill format is often favored at the end of a meal demanding time and attentiveness. This combination relies on balance. A fine Cognac has a perfect balance of flavor, strength and aroma. The Davidoff Millennium Churchill brings a full-bodied blend of spiciness, earth and leather with a long finish that lingers subtly on your tongue. As the cigar smokes its shape, it builds in richness and complexity all the while maintaining its smooth balance of flavors. These two distinctively different flavor profiles become one tasting experience that is softer, rounder, and ultimately more fulfilling.
Rum (Dark) and a Davidoff Gran Cru No. 2
Too often rum gets lost in the shuffle of fine spirits and is written off as just a mixer. However, dark aged rums pair phenomenally with a cigar. Looks are deceiving in the case of this cigar. A corona shaped cigar, the smoke is rich and creamy with a gentle spiciness that helps to even out the sweetness of the rum. The cigar has a slightly dry finish that is countered by the rum generating a "conversation" between the two flavors on your palate.
Crèmes/Cordials and a Davidoff Ambassadrice
Perfect for "just a little something". Chocolate, mint, fruit, spice... Liqueurs are short and elegant to refresh and neutralize your palate. The Davidoff Ambassadrice exemplifies and enhances this elegance. Though small and thin, this cigar smokes smooth and cool. The long and delicate finish compliments the drink.
Gin Martini and a Davidoff No. 2
Nothing makes the transition from the workday to nightlife better than enjoying a great cigar with a classic gin martini. Assuring you do not over-stimulate your palate too early, this combination of subtle flavors arouses your taste buds and sets the mood for your evening. The Davidoff Classic No. 2 is a panatela shape that embodies perfect harmony. Strength, flavor and aroma each share the spotlight in this case. It's obvious creamy character and medium body gently coats your mouth with hints of toast and nuts. Both gain strength slowly but never become overpowering. The cool temperature and understated flavors of the martini help to relax your palate and keep focus on the cigar's distinctiveness. Drink your last sip. Take your last puff. Tip your bartender and enjoy the rest of your evening.
Michael Herklots (mherklots) began his career in the retail Cigar business in Boston in 1998. He relocated to New York City in 2002 where he currently works and resides. Aside from his duties in the retail business, he has hosted events and seminars around the country. With education as a focus, he hosts tasting seminars regularly and is a teacher for the American Sommellier Association. Herklots is also a contributing writer for several national publications.