When it comes to pairing cigars and Scotch and/ or Bourbon, there are a couple of things that you should bear in mind. Here's what you should know.
Cigars and whiskey are a classic pairing. However, when it comes to Scotch and/ or Bourbon, there are a couple of things that you should bear in mind. The small batch and single barrel Bourbons, along with single malt Scotches, are your high-end options that offer the kind of depth and complexity of flavors that can withstand the needs of your palate while smoking a cigar.
A premium single malt will give a smoky quality, a result of the smoked peat used as part of the filtering process. This combines idyllically with Cohiba cigars, for example. Select a small batch bourbon and you’ll be greeted with a drink that is bottled at a higher proof level, which will stand up to medium- and full-bodied cigars, thanks to the liquor’s strong flavors.
Your palate gives you the information that is correct for you. Therefore, the more that you keep your palate active – call it training, if you will – the more refined it becomes. This has a proven success record, with professional cigar makers and whiskey distillers all developing their expertise using this technique.
Exploring The Different Whiskey Regions
So if it’s right for them, then I’m confident this is the route you should explore. I took a look at the major whiskey producing countries of Scotland, Ireland, Canada, United States, and Japan to see what sets them apart.
Whiskey is distilled from fermented grain mash such as corn, barley, wheat, and rye. Following distillation, it is usually aged in wooden casks. Whiskey production is highly regulated, and each region follows a set of rules and methods in order to classify their brand as being from that particular region.
Scotch whisky is one of the most popular whiskeys around the world. There are six different regions in Scotland that produce whisky; Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands, Islay, and Campbeltown. There are five types of Scotch whisky; single malt, single grain, blended malt, blended grain, and blended Scotch whisky.
The Highlands is by far the largest region in Scotland, both in area and in whisky production. Scotch whisky brands from the Highlands include Glenmorangie and Dalmore. Renowned for their single malts, Speyside is the home of the popular distilleries of Macallan, Glenfiddich, and Glenlivet.
It is a widely held belief that whiskey was first created by monks in Ireland. Irish whiskeys are triple-distilled and are made using pure-malted barley as the choice of grain. Whisky from Ireland comes in four separate categories. The most common is Blended Irish Whisky that includes Bushmills Original, Jameson, and Tullamore Dew.
Single malt whiskeys, much like Scotch, are made entirely from malted barley distilled in a pot still within a single distillery. Brands such as Bushmills (10, 12, 16, 21 years) and Tullamore Dew Single Malt 10-year fall into the single malt categories. The two other lesser known types are single pot still and single grain.
Most Canadian whiskies are blended multi-grain liquors containing a large percentage of corn grain and rye. There is not a standard number of times the whisky is distilled in the country. Canadian whiskey tops the list of spirits imported into the United States, with Crown Royal being the most popular.
Canadian Club is also renowned for their exciting marketing campaigns which involved hunting for cases of whisky hidden in exotic locations around the world. One case of Canadian Club hidden at the Arctic Circle has never been found!
Kentucky, United States
Bourbon County, Kentucky is the American home of bourbon. The whiskey is predominantly made from corn, and by law, bourbon made in the U.S must be at least 51% corn mash. The mash lends the bourbon its distinctive, sweeter taste.
While bourbon is not geographically limited to Bourbon County, the liquor can be produced anywhere in the United States, though 90 percent of this type of whiskey is distilled in this county. There are too many distilleries located in Kentucky to list here but some recognizable brands are Bulleit, Four Roses, Jim Beam, Makers Mark, and Woodford to name a few. You can read my previous blog regarding a pairing of Bulleit Frontier Whiskey and Padrón 1964.
Tennessee, United States
While there are only two major brands of whiskey currently produced in Tennessee, Jack Daniels and George Dickel, whiskey from this region has clearly made an impact on the drinking world. Federal law states what constitutes as true Tennessee whiskey requires that Tennessee whiskey be "a straight Bourbon Whiskey authorized to be produced only in the State of Tennessee". Also, the law requires that Tennessee whiskey consist of mash of a minimum of least 51% corn, like Kentucky.
The difference between Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey is a step called the Lincoln County Process where the whiskey is filtered through charcoal then aged in charred white oak barrels. Jack Daniel’s is the best-selling American whiskey in the world.
Despite this, Moore County, where it is produced, still adheres to the Prohibition law. Can you imagine living in a place that produces Jack Daniels and not being allowed to purchase it in shops or restaurants? Other smaller distilleries in Tennessee include Benjamin Prichard’s, Nelson’s Green Briar, and Collier & McKeel.
Whisky from Japan is more similar to Scotch than other whiskies, even adopting the missing ‘e’ spelling and importing Scottish malted barley. There are several companies producing whisky in Japan, the best known and most widely available are Suntory and Nikka. Both whiskies from these distilleries offer blended as well as single malt whiskies and blended malt whiskies.
Japanese whisky has become increasingly popular in recent years, even going as far as winning ‘Best Whisky in the World’ awards! You can find a truly amazing infused cigar at El Cigar Shop made by 1880 International which uses 18 Year Old Yamazaki Whisky to absolutely astound the taste buds! Enjoy!