Pairing American Whiskey With Cigars
Cigars and spirits are two guilty pleasures that have been tied at the hip in some way or another for nearly half a millennium, so it is no surprise that cigar and whiskey pairing is more popular than ever.
American whiskey, in particular, has captured the attention of cigar enthusiasts around the Globe. From refined, elegant whiskies to those that are big and brash, there are some outstanding cigar pairing possibilities to be found for everyone to enjoy.
Bourbon by definition must contain between 51% and 80% corn mash and be aged in new charred white oak barrels. This delivers a sweeter, more voluptuous experience than most other American whiskies.
Bourbon has flourished during the current American spirits renaissance, delivering countless cigar pairing whiskies that will delight the taste-buds to no end. The famous old standards of Jim Beam, Early Times, Rebel Yell and Wild Turkey offer several cigar-worthy concoctions from one end of the price scale to the other.
The Wild Turkey Masters Keep 17 Year Old Whisky is a fabulously lavish partner to Cuban cigars, such as the Punch Corona.
That most stately of American whiskies, Makers Mark, is the classic cigar pairing superstar and the silky smooth Maker’s 46 proves a perfect match for the Cuban H. Upmann Sir Winston.
Buffalo Trace is another fine Bourbon that will help bring out deeper nuances of the tobacco of a variety of cigar sizes.
Knob Creek, Blanton’s Original and Woodford Reserve are popular choices, as is the tasty Elijah Craig 12 Year.
The Rock Town Single Barrel Reserve is a bold cask strength offering that belts out hints of nuts and spice that work in perfect unison with a Camacho American Barrel Aged Toro, as well as all the best Cuban cigars.
Bulleit Bourbon has become a go-to choice for cigar aficionados and if you search for “Cigar bars near me” you will find that anywhere you go should have Bulleit Bourbon primed and ready to pour.
Made using at least 51% rye mash, Rye whiskey is generally bolder and spicier than its other American counterparts, making it a fine companion to fuller-bodied cigars.
From its days as a staple of Old West saloons to its current rise to top shelf collections everywhere, Rye whiskies are made by a whole host of familiar names, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Jack Daniels and Bulleit among them, that will pair with thickly developed smokes.
Crowned Heads’ Jericho Hill Willy Lee is a great match for Jack Daniels’s Rested Rye.
Old Overholt’s Straight Rye is classic no frills rye whisky for everyday cigar lovers that will make for a lively pairing anytime.
The Rough Rider Bull Moose Three Barrel Rye provides a richer adventure that pairs beautifully with a Cuban Vegas Robaina Famosos.
Corn whiskey, whiskey that uses more than 80% corn mash, became famous, if not infamous, during the days of speakeasies, gunrunners and a whole list of other illegal activities of the early 20th Century.
With corn in such abundance during the Prohibition days, using corn made for a very cheap way to produce whiskey, giving rise to the iconic symbol of “sticking it to the man” defiance, Moonshine. Today there are much smoother and tastier corn whiskey options available that won’t bust your gut.
Served in a Mason-style jar, Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey is a favorite cigar partner that pops up at parties and barbecues across the country. Yet the first choice amongst cigar aficionados looking for a fine corn whiskey is Balcones Brimstone Texas Scrub Oak Smoked Corn Whiskey.
Wondrously smoky in texture with bursts of sweetness, this whiskey makes for a winning combination with a wide variety of full-flavored cigars.
A Cuban Romeo y Julieta or a Tatuaje Miami will find a wildly satisfying match with the Balcones Brimstone.
For a whiskey to be classified as a Tennessee whisky it must be at least 51% corn mash, aged in new charred oak barrels and, naturally, be made within the borders of Tennessee.
To further separate themselves from other whiskies and to impart a unique character to the blends, a great many Tennessee whiskey distillers utilize a process known as the Lincoln County Process. This is a procedure where the whiskey is filtered through maple charcoal before aging in barrels.
One of the pioneers in this system of distilling is, of course, the king of American whiskey, Jack Daniels. Jack Daniels Old No. 7 is the quintessential Tennessee whiskey that is one of the most popular spirits in all the land, stretching to all points of the Globe. And so it holds true that Jack Daniels is a favorite amongst many cigar aficionados, especially the Jack Daniels Single Barrel.
An alternative to Jack Daniels is George Dickel’s No. 8, a fine choice to pair with any number of cigars, and Dickel’s No. 12, a more robust aged whiskey that will meld beautifully with richer smokes that are heavy on the wood, earth, spice and sweet cream flavors.
There are a great many other American whiskies that defy classification. Of these Clear Creek Distillery’s McCarthy’s Oregon Peated Single Malt Whisky is a standout. Challenging some of the great Scotch whiskies, McCarthy’s Single Malt will prove a magnificent pairing partner with an Ashton Estate Sun Grown 24 Year Salute.
High West’s Campfire Whiskey is another stellar choice that is a blend of straight bourbon, rye whiskey and Scottish single malt whiskey. The result is a wondrous mixture of sweet, spicy and smoky nuances which match up to a great many cigars, Cuban Cohibas among them.
And New Holland’s Zeppelin Bend Straight-Malt whiskey is glorious treat that will lend its wood, clove and vanilla notes to a pairing with a full-flavored Cuban Bolivar Royal Coronas.
No matter the style of whiskey, there is a cigar pairing to be had that will ignite the senses like never before. And whether you are new to the world of American Whiskey or an old pro, each cigar pairing experience can be a fresh, exhilarating adventure each and every time.
Some may ask “Will the cigar lounge near me know about this or that whiskey?” The answer is simple: If they don’t, then make sure they do! If it is a fairly reasonable request, most cigar bars or lounges will do their best to accommodate you. It never hurts to ask and the rewards can be out of this world.
There simply is no greater moment than sitting back, swirling some cigar smoke about the room and sipping on a taste of a special American-made whiskey, all the while admiring the intricacies of a Cuban cigar band.
So get out and enjoy the joys of American whiskey and cigars!
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