What makes a whisky good for cigar pairings? Initially, I thought a peated malt, something equally smokey, would be fitting. However, the smoke in peated malt can sometimes conflict or compete with the tobacco smoke flavors. To complement the dry, acrid, acidic, and ‘hot’ flavor of a quality handmade cigar, you really want sweet, full, fruity or malty drink that can stand up to the strong flavors of tobacco.
I am no expert in cigars, less so on pairing them, but it seems to me that The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve has all the boxes ticked. A robust, ultra smooth and luxurious malt that can complement any quality cigar. The big sweetness contrasts with the earthy, dry nature of cigar smoke, and does not fight with any flavor aspects of the smoke, like a peated malt might. The orange notes are pleasantly palate-cleansing.
The Oliva Serie V Lancero is earthy and dry, with a strong level of nicotine. Such a medium-full flavor profile needs something robust and full-bodied to stand up to it, and the Dalmore does well. You will see how a delicate malt or a light-bodied dram would get overwhelmed by a cigar like this. When paired with the Oliva, the Dalmore takes on more citrus on the palate, reacting with the acidity in the smoke. It perhaps loses a touch of the nuance of age, but all of the major flavor components stand up nicely despite the palate-numbing effects of nicotine. Together, this whisky and a fine cigar make for a very nice evening
The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve The original Cigar Malt label was created to appeal to those who happen to enjoy a cigar with their single malt as the name would imply. Discontinued as a regular release in 2009, there is an updated version known as The Dalmore Reserve which contains a revamped mixing and finishing process along with an increased price tag. The Reserve version also includes an uptick in alchol by volume, with current bottlings featuring 44% ABV (88 proof). Color: Deep mahogany with strong legs.
Nose: Strong, creamy malt notes, kettle corn, tobacco, charred oak, raisin bread, cereal grains, light amount of leather.
Palate: Robust, with notes of bitter citrus, toffee, custard, caramel, chocolate chips. Buttery mouthfeel. Quick, medium burn in the finish, with continued dark toffee notes and chocolate. I’m really feeling the lower alcohol content here.
Oban 14 and a Davidoff Anniversario No. 2. The Oban is a Single Malt Scotch from the Highland region of Scotland. It’s medium in body and is rich and sweet with a slight smoky undertone. It is the perfect companion for the medium body Davidoff Anniversario No. 2. It’s a beautiful medium body Churchill with a slight Dominican sweetness.
Glenlivet 18 with a Ashton Maduro No. 40. One of the best single malt scotches you will ever try. It’s light and smooth in body but rich and sweet in flavor with a hint of chocolate, nuts and leather. The Ashton Maduro No. 40 is a rich Toro sized smoke with an oily aged wrapper. It contains notes of almonds, cocoa, and coffee. These two are a really sweet couple.
Lagavulin 16 with a My Father No.1. Known for its smoky and heavy taste, the Lagavulin is one of the top tiers, full bodied scotches in the world. A slight wood finish, it emits good spicy and smoky notes. It is a great libation to pair with a spicy My Father robusto. An Oily Habano wrapper combines with Nicaraguan aged tobaccos to make a spicy and peppery full bodied treat.
The Arran 18 year with The Opus X 20th anniversary. The Opus X 20th anniversary, released in four sizes in limited quantities, is a special and sought after cigar. This medium bodied Toro 6¼” × 49, wrapped in a cedar sleeve, a royal blue ribbon at the foot, smoking time two hours, starts off with pronounced sweetness giving way to cedar and leather, black pepper developing into the second third with cinnamon and hints of ginger and vanilla. Ends salty with an open draw. Don’t let the asymmetrical burn line or flaky ash affect your smoking pleasure.
A beautiful and special smoke that is enhanced with the Arran, aged in ex-sherry and ex-Bourbon casks. This whisky complements the palate with dark chocolate and ginger, sweet but not heavy, increasing the accents of smoothness of the Opus X. Brioche on the finish goes well with the vanilla aromas of the cigar, making this a luxurious memorable pairing.
Tomintoul 16 with a Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial. These Nicaraguan cigars are handmade and fermented in oak barrels for a few months, allowing the tobacco to pick up vanillin oils that give flavors of – you guessed it – vanilla. The Cuatro Cinco is a special release, celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Joya de Nicaragua Company. The cigar is sweet and rich, with elements of chocolate. The smoothness of the cigar is perfectly complemented by the sweet, light and creamy Tomintoul.
Glengoyne 18 with a Padron 1964 Anniversary Series, this is delicate, elegant, classy and very smooth cigar with a delicious finish. Paired with the incredibly fruity Glengoyne 18, a wonderful whisky aged mostly in first fill sherry casks, this pairing highlights the contrast between cigar and whisky, while allowing the complexity of both to shine through.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask with a Nub Maduro cigar. A blend of tobacco from many different countries, this cosmopolitan cigar is produced by the Oliva Company out of Nicaragua. It’s a heavy, spicy and leathery animal, and definitely not for cigar newbie’s. Pairing it with the peaty, heavy, and extremely sweet Laphroig Quarter Cask adds a little sugar to the cigar and provides an extra smoky punch.
Bruichladdich Islay Barley with a Romeo and Julieta Short Churchill. Cuban and Scottish star-crossed lovers. With Cuban cigars now able to enter the United States (albeit with serious restrictions), this big Romeo and Julieta cigar is a great choice if you can get your hands on it. The Romeo and Julietas tend to be creamy, smooth and easy to smoke. It was also supposedly Winston Churchill’s favorite smoke. The short Churchill, named after him, is one of the best. Paired with the buttery and malty Bruichladdich Islay Barley, the light elegant class of both whisky and cigar shine through perfectly without getting in the way of each other.
Bladnoch 10-year-old, this Scotch is characteristically soft and floral with a light body. Often a citrus note, sometimes grassy. I think it goes well with the mild bodied Habanos.
Glenkinchie 10-year-old, wonderfully complex, medium bodied malt. Light and floral with some spiciness. Mildly sweet. Complements the standard line Dominican cigars like La Aurora, Cuesta Rey and Fuente.
Littlemill 8-year-old, a very pale spirit, almost clear. Malty sweet, clean and with and exotic finish. Very nice with a Davidoff or Avo product!
Aberlour 12-year-old, this medium to full bodied malt has a whole room full of flavors wrapped up in a clingy mouth-feel and long lasting flavor development amber colored package. Malty sweetness, nutmeg spice, toffee, dark fruit, mint and smooth peat are just some of the components. Surprisingly, this is also a very affordable Scotch. I don’t think you will find a cigar you don’t like with it, but it pairs best with well aged OpusX, DPG Cuban Classic, Illusione and the like…
The Balvenie Doublewood 12-year-old. Wonderful orange peel, honey, cinnamon and nuts. A medium bodied malt with a long finish. Very deep and rich, yet with some light fruity notes on the top end. A VSG Wizard is a perfect match! Goes well with the new Ashton San Cristobal & Opus X 20th anniversary
Matured in American ex-Bourbon casks and finished in European oak sherry casks, this malt displays a rich complexity that can take on the intricacies of an H.Upmann Cuban cigar. The distinctive soft character that comes from the first cask with layers of vanilla and cinnamon accentuate the notes of cedar and cinnamon in the first few puffs. This impressive Robusto Extra 54 ring gauge cigar is 4¾” in length and documented as light to medium bodied, however be prepared for medium to full bodied strength.
The second sherry cask gives the malt warmth and depth with full sweet Olorosso notes, this marries amazingly with the sweetness in the cigar that runs throughout from syrupy maple, to flowery vanilla to sugary cinnamon. The Balvenie hints sweet nuts too, bringing out the dark chocolate in the last third of the cigar to a long and warm spice. A chocolate and ginger, sweet but not heavy, increasing the accents of smoothness of the Opus X. Brioche on the finish goes well with the vanilla aromas of the cigar, making this a luxurious memorable pairing.
The Opus X 20th anniversary, released in four sizes in limited quantities, is a special and sought after cigar. This medium bodied Toro 6¼” × 49, wrapped in a cedar sleeve, a royal blue ribbon at the foot, smoking time two hours, starts off with pronounced sweetness giving way to cedar and leather, black pepper developing into the second third with cinnamon and hints of ginger and vanilla. Ends salty with an open draw. Don’t let the asymmetrical burn line or flaky ash affect your smoking pleasure. flavor-filled one hour smoke.
Dalwhinnie 15-year-old, this Scotch is full bodied and a wonderful golden color. The flavors just keep developing as you let the spirit slowly drain down your throat – heather, honey, peat, spice, nuts…the list goes on. The mouth feel is slightly oily and sometimes a touch phenolic. Great with any premium Nicaraguan or Honduran cigar!
Glenmorangie 18-year-old, medium bodied reddish-amber in color with sweetness at first, then walnuts & oak, finally spices come rushing in. A very aromatic and complex whisky. A great malt with Partagas, Vegas Robaina or Trinidad Habanos.