Quite recently I had the pleasure of attending an evening of cigar and whisky pairing organised and hosted by cigar and whisky merchant Robert Graham.
I have tried the occasional cigar here and there and have always fancied pairing it with a dram but have never had the opportunity to really try it. Here was the ideal opportunity.
The first whisky was a 17 y.o Imperial from private bottlers Gordon & MacPhail. This was my first ever Imperial and it was great to tick another distillery off my list. I’m not going to give notes on the whisky on its own, rather I’ll be talking about the pairing with the cigar.
The cigar chosen to pair with this was a Drew Estates Undercrown Shade. It features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, a Sumatran binder and a mixture of Dominican and Nicaraguan Filler. Quite a light smoke and very pleasant.
I had always assumed that pairing a cigar and a whisky would require quite a strong dram, especially as a new cigar smoker like myself can find cigars quite potent. Turns out I am 100% wrong. The lighter, softer cigar really brought out peach and pineapple notes and unexpectedly brought the fruitiness of the Imperial to life. Bringing out some subtleties rather than masking them as I had assumed would happen.
The second cigar was a Drew Estate Undercrown Robusto. This features an Otapan Negro wrapper, a Connecticut stalk cut and cured Habano binder and a Brazilian and Cuban filler. Appearances were decptive as it seemed a really dark and intense colour, indicating it was to be quite a powerful cigar. After lighting I was pleasantly surprised to find it really rather mellow and smooth.
The whisky was a Hoebeg (Robert Graham’s own bottling of an Islay single malt) This is more how I pictured a ‘cigar dram’. Rich, powerful and smoky. However what I assumed was going to be quite a powerful dram turned out to be rather deceptive and was initialy rather subtle, much more so than the nose would indicate. After a few sips and a few draws the meaty and coastal elements really sprang out of the Hoebeg.
A great paring, showing that appearances can be truly deceptive when it comes to flavour pairings.
Great conversation was had on the night with great company, some great whiskies and some rather splendid cigars.