In this piece, we outline the top 5 libations to pair and enjoy with a fine cigar.

Though there is no universally accepted ‘best drink’ to pair with a cigar, we devised a list of those we find most agreeable.

5. WINE

There’s something inherently natural about pairing a cigar with an exquisite wine. Much like the tobacco in a cigar, wine goes through its own fermentation process of aging, to arrive at a mild, medium or full-bodied character wine upon completion.

Much like other types of alcohol, when it comes to wine we suggest leaning toward the darker red varieties like Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon, as they typically stand up to the strength of a cigar that may otherwise overpower a lighter white varietal like a Pino Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

Among dessert wines, it’s widely understood that Port pairs very well with a fine cigar.

4. BEER

A great deal of cigar enthusiasts think nothing beats whisky when it comes to pairing a drink with a cigar – but many a beer lover will hotly contest this assertion.

There’s even whiskey barrel-aged beers that offer the best of both worlds.

One big reason why beer pairs so well is modern variety. With today’s proliferation of microbrews, there’s literally millions of different beer variations to choose from.

What’s more, brewing processes for beer are not as rigid and stringent as say, distilling a Scotch or a bourbon, which are both governed by a bevy of guidelines (pun fully intended) that a distiller must strictly adhere to.

Plus, beers top the list as being the most refreshing, which can excellently offset the heat of a cigar.

Though there’s no wrong answer, we find that beers that are amber or darker in colour seem to offer a greater compliment to a cigar. However, you also may choose a lighter beer to back off and serve as a clean contrast to let the cigar shine through on its own and cut through a cigar’s heat.

3. COGNAC/BRANDY

Cognac is simply a brandy named after the town of Cognac in France. For this reason, the two are interchangeable when it comes to pairing with a cigar. Armanac (made in the Armanac region of South France) also fits in this category.

One of history’s most famous cigar smokers, Sir Winston Churchill, loved to pair his cigars with cognac.

One reason for such an excellent pairing here, is luxury. Amongst all the spirits out there, cognac is typically deemed the most high end or luxury. In adding a cigar to the mix, you’re pairing luxury with luxury. This is perfect for a special occasion, or as an excellent offering to others, or, whenever really.

HINE Cigar Reserve XO

When it comes to selecting a cognac for your cigar, the rule of thumb is the older the better. The most aged varieties are labelled ‘XO’ or ‘Hors d’Age’ (beyond age). They often exhibit a flavor note quality known as ‘rancio’ that often develops with age which uniquely compliments the taste of a cigar.

Like wine, cognac imparts a nice sweetness that balances out perfectly with a cigar.

“A great deal of cigar enthusiasts think nothing beats whisky when it comes to pairing a drink with a cigar – but many a beer lover will hotly contest this assertion.”

2. WHISKY

Under this category we include all whiskies- from Scotch to Canadian to Bourbon and beyond, as an excellent elixir for pairing with a cigar.

Given its frequent smokey character, whisky makes a match made in heaven to a fine cigar. Similar to tobacco fermentation, whisky undergoes its own aging process in oak casks to blossom into a full maturation of taste. With notes of spices, coffee, smoke, oak and pepper, as well as various fruit notes, the nuances of a whisky are often strikingly similar to that of a cigar.

Dalmore’s Cigar Malt Reserve was made for such an occasion

Unlike beer, whiskey is enjoyed in a slow, relaxed manner – the same pace best used to enjoy a cigar.

Light to medium bodied cigars seem to pair well with Speyside and some Lowland Scotch whiskies, most Irish whiskies, Canadian whisky, rye and some bourbons. Full bodied cigars generally match well with the peatier Islay and Highland single malts, as well as some overproof Kentucky bourbons.

1. RUM

Some may dissagree, but we feel that it boils down to point of origin, and this is why rum tops our list as the best libation to pair with a cigar.

Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua are among a small handful of the greatest tobacco cultivating and cigar producing countries in the world, and it just so happens that all of these countries are known for cultivating the sugarcane that is used to make some of the world’s best aged rums.

Some cigar makers even release their own rum made specifically to pair with a cigar, such as this La Aurora combination seen here:

When it comes to rum, the more aged and darker – the better for pairing with a cigar. Like other spirits, a fine rum can effectively draw out, heighten or alter the specific nuances and notes of a cigar – and vice versa – making a delightful compliment and companion to each other.

Conclusions

A list of drinks that can perfectly compliment a cigar is practically limitless, and most importantly – it all comes down to what your palate enjoys.

Honorable mentions include coffee, tequila (typically Reposado or older) and of course, a good cocktail. These drinks all compliment a cigar very well. Experiment and try new things out – – you’ll know when you’ve found the next heavenly match.