A Glenfiddich Guide to Pairing Single Malt Whisky and Cigars

4 December 2015

As one of the most talented writers of the 20th century, a gentleman with a brilliant sense of humour and an eye for style, Mark Twain knew a lot about life and pleasures. His contemporaries often made fun of and condemned his passion for cigars and whiskey but these attacks were often deflected with trademark ease and wit:

"Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times. That worked tolerably well for a while. I pledged myself to smoke but one cigar a day. I kept the cigar waiting until bedtime, then I had a luxurious time with it. I waited, dreaming and imagining, for the moment I can light my cigar..."

True aficionados know better than anybody that whisky and cigars make for the perfect match, complementing each other perfectly and combining to reveal new tastes and sensations. Together, they are the very epitome of a perfect partnership both in a philosophy and a lifestyle.

Of course, it’s not easy to find ‘the right’ whisky and cigar pairing, but I can assure you that, after trials and tribulations, you’ll start to find those perfect combinations that’ll show your whisky and cigar in the best possible way.

Personally, I find that younger whiskies can obstruct the charisma of a strict tobacco leaf, so I normally I opt for the incomparable Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Gran Reserva, finished in Caribbean rum casks. There’s nothing coincidental about this choice; both the rum we use in these casks and the cigars start their lives under the hot sun until they continue their journeys across the world. Rum casks give this golden whisky of ours an intense and sweet aroma with bright flower nuances, notes of banana and figs, notes of butterscotch, leather and oak. Its taste is diverse and it really does amaze the palate. 

On the tongue, you’ll detect a velvety smoothness that gradually flows into a dry sharpness with this whisky. You’ll pick up hints of smoke, spices and lime that alternate with each other and ensure a long lasting, warming finish. This is a whisky that can really beautify your night alongside a good cigar.

So, which kind of cigar should you go for? Well, you’ll enjoy a wonderful result if you match the great Romeo & Julieta Exibicion #4 with Glenfiddich 21 Year Old. This cigar is very strong and racy, but these attributes work well with the whisky. Its cold palate is very rich and, on lighting, neither its taste nor aroma will surprise you. It’s unusual combination of nutty and fruity nuances, combined with aromas of wood, soft spices and thin bread, will certainly intrigue your senses. This cigar has the richest of tastes – you’ll feel sweetness and a slight nuance of sea salt. The softness and of our 21 Year Old whisky makes this pairing a perfect one.

I also recommend trying Glenfiddich 21 Year Old whisky with a Dominican cigar, the Cacique Martin Family Maria. This cigar has a medium strength and offers notes of chocolate and flower on the nose. Once lit, its taste is remarkably bright and clear; you’ll get woody and earthy notes with a racy finish of hazelnut shells. It’s flavour is juicy and intense too, with hints of freshly dressed leather and dry exotic wood.

Enjoying this cigar with a dram of Glenfiddich is a wonderful experience – initially, you’ll detect sharp, peppery flavours that gradually give way to softer tones that will unfurl on your tongue like a long carpet.

Mark Twain tried to give up his habit many times but kept returning to it again and again. It helped him to create a consistent source of personal pleasure and inspiration. And, as a true gentleman, he preferred the most worthy company with his evening cigar along with a glass of good whisky. 

I trust you to try the same. Let me know how you enjoy the perfect cigar and dram on Instagram, @denispankratov

Denis Pankratov

Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador for Russia