Five Cigar Pairing for the Budding Aficionado

A good cigar is a great sensory experience with everything from the changing taste profile as the cigar burns to the texture of the smoke to the sociable buzz it creates, making the cigar an enjoyable experience for those who choose to partake. Every cigar has a unique profile and taste, and just as well-paired wine can complement a good meal, a well-chosen drink can bring out the most in your cigar experience.

Here are five pairing options to enjoy.

Alec Bradley Connecticut and Coffee

Alec Bradley is one of the world’s best-known New World cigar brands, blending tobaccos from Honduras, Mexico, the United States, and Nicaragua. A Connecticut is named for its wrapper leaf, grown in the upper United States, which is a very blonde, light-shaded leaf. A Connecticut gives off a smooth flavour that stronger alcohols like Scotch can easily overpower, but if you’re looking for something to complement a nice cup of coffee, like Lavazza or Illy, the boldness of the coffee really helps to bring out the flavours of the cigar without overpowering them. The recommendation applies to almost all Connecticut cigars, but the Alec Bradley Connecticut is probably the most accessible and best option.

Drew Estate Undercrown Maduro and Guinness

The Drew Estate Undercrown Maduro Line is fantastic. The Maduro version of this cigar is medium to full-bodied with dense smoke. Its coffee and spice notes are full of flavour. However, the Undercrown Maduro is a strong cigar, and you’ll want a drink that really complements it rather than something that tries and fails to overpower its rich taste. A Guinness or any other Irish stout like Murphy’s will go well with this cigar since these beers have a heavy body that won’t wash away the cigars’ flavour notes the way a lighter lager like Corona or Heineken might.

Coffee and chocolate stouts are becoming extremely popular as craft brews. Combining a stout with an Undercrown provides an unforgettable experience that gives the coffee or chocolate taste you may want without having to drink a flavour-infused stout.

A.J Fernandez Enclave Broadleaf and Raki or Ouzo

No… don’t drink Sambuca. Instead, try Raki or Ouzo, from Turkey and Greece respectively. Both are similar but different enough that people pick their favourite, and both come with a star anise flavour that gives off strong black liquorice notes; when served properly with ice and chilled water, they turn white, much like a Sambuca.

A.J. Fernandez is a relatively new big player in New World cigars. However, they know exactly how to hit the nail on the head with their blends, providing something for everyone. Their Enclave Broadleaf gives all the strong flavour notes of a dark wrapper cigar, but it also has a fruit element to the taste that really complements light summer drinks like Raki or Ouzo that were designed to be consumed with fruit. The Enclave Broadleaf has a dense and chewy smoke output that will give you a winning combo when paired with Ouzo or Raki.

Cuban Trinidad and Lagavulin 16 Scotch

Trinidad cigars are some of the finest in the world. Initially, a venerated diplomatic gift given out by the Cuban government as an alternative to the famous Cohiba line, Trindads are stronger in nicotine content. They back a denser, creamier smoke with full strength but, conversely, a lighter flavour that’s floral and leathery. The strength of a Trinidad mixed with its smoothness and mouthfeel, being both light and heavy at once, makes it an excellent cigar for blending with a premium, full-bodied, no-nonsense Scotch.

A Trinidad’s flavour creeps up on you with a finish that lasts. When it comes into contact with a smokey Lagavulin 16 Scotch, the Trinidad really provides some extra oomph to the peatiness of the Lagavulin 16 while also balancing out its slightly harsher side that some people experience.

Rocky Patel Edge Habano and Diplomatico Rum

The Edge Habano is a masterfully blended cigar with cedar, pepper and chocolate notes that give it serious flavour. The Habano wrapper is a Cuban tobacco leaf grown in Nicaragua known for its heavy smoke body and nicotine content, but it is not over the top with strength that it drowns out the other flavours. This cigar is relatively affordable — around $20 Canadian — but its pairing is slightly more expensive. Venezuelan Diplomatic Rum is exquisite with a sweet, fruity, molasses taste that leaves just the right amount of bite. The two go together really well; the cigar adds flavour to the rum and vice versa.

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