Cigars and Spirits

Spirits and wine often go hand-in-hand with a a premium hand-rolled cigar. What you choose to drink depends on your personal taste. Sometimes you might want the full-bodied, slightly sweet taste of a vintage Port; or perhaps the crispness of an aged Cognac. And don't forget premium beers! Here's a brief guide to help you make your drink selection:

Brandy and Cognac

Brandy and Cognac have emerged as very popular drinks to accompany fine cigars. Cognacs have the undertaste of vanilla and the mild sweet flavors derived from years of oak-barrel aging. Their clean flavors stimulate the palate and go well with the smooth, spiciness of a premium hand-rolled cigar. Spanish brandies tend to be deep in color and usually have a sweet, smoky element that enhances the taste of a cigar. American brandies often have a fruitier taste, but still display the same complex blend of flavors that come with barrel aging.

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A Variety of Cognacs

A Variety of Cognacs

Port

Port is a popular partner for a great cigar. The sweetness of a vintage Port blends perfectly with a full-bodied smoke. Even younger vintage Ports can be enjoyed as their strong tannins will not be overwhelmed by a spicy smoke. The less-expensive, non-vintage varieties such as tawny Port also nicely complement a cigar due to the woody characteristics they acquire during the barrel aging process.

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Warre 1963 Port

Warre 1963 Port

Wine

Wines aren't as common a cigar companion as brandy, cognac, or port, but they can still be a complementary choice of beverage. The wines to choose include either a California or French Cabernet Sauvignon. You may also enjoy the Rhone varieties such as the spicy Grenache or Syrah, and the peppery Mourvedre. The art of wine making is a complex process involving proper grape selection, fermentation, filtering of sediments, aging, and dozens of other procedures.

Red, White, and Merlot Wines

Red, White, and Merlot Wines

Bourbon

Another fine choice are the small batch and single-barrel Bourbons. These are bottled at a higher proof and have strong and complex flavors. Kentucky straight Bourbons and Tennessee whisky, although usually a lighter in taste, color, and complexity, also go well with cigars. Bourbon, America's only native spirit, was born over 200 years ago in the hollows of Kentucky. Bourbon is distilled from a mash of grain containing, corn balanced with barley and either wheat or rye. Each distillery has its own unique blend and some recipes are generations old. W.L. Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon is renowned for its "whisper of wheat" because its recipe, which dates back to 1849, has an unusually high proportion of wheat. Old Charter Kentucky Straight Bourbon, produced since 1867, has a specially tailored mash accented with rye. The rich amber color and characteristic sweetness of bourbon is derived from its aging in new white oak barrels, which are charred to caramelize the natural sugars in the wood and bring them to the surface.

Small Batch Bourbon Collection from Jim Beam

Small Batch Bourbon Collection from Jim Beam

Rum

Although a bit off the mark of traditional drinks, aged rums can be a good choice to go with cigars. They have a light, sweet profile combined with burned molasses flavors, and can smooth out a dark note in a less expensive cigar. Rum is made from sugar cane boiled down to a rich residue called molasses, which is then fermented and distilled. Light rums are clear to pale gold; dark rums are amber to a rich mahogany. Light rums are traditionally produced in the southern Caribbean Islands and don't require extensive aging, with six months in oak casks often being long enough. Dark rum results from aging the spirit from three to twelve years and, in some cases, from the addition of caramel. It is very aromatic and has a heavier, richer flavor than light rum. Dark rum is mainly produced in the tropics. In recent years, a number of specialty rums have been introduced, flavored with coconut, spices, or fruit.

Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve

Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve

Scotch

The smoky quality of a fine single malt scotch joins perfectly with a good cigar. Aged single malt scotches are premium beverages that have the complexity and depth of flavor to stand up to a cigar. Traditional scotches are blends of malt whiskies (made from barley) and grain whisky (made from cereals such as corn, wheat, or barley). These aren't what we're talking about. We're talking the pure and natural stuff of Scotland - Single-Malts. Single malt Scotches are the product of more than 100 distilleries, each of which produces its own distinctive spirit. Though each distillery uses malted barley for the base, variants in the water, peat, atmospheric characteristics, shape of the pot-still, and the aging casks are factors in determining the uniqueness of the resulting spirit. Most single malts are aged at least 8 years, some considerably longer.

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Aberlour Single Malt Scotch

Aberlour Single Malt Scotch

Beer

Beer is almost as old as human civilization itself. The earliest known recipe can be found on clay tables from Mesopotamia (the region between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, in modern Iraq and Syria) that are dated to sometime around 5,000 B.C., and from that region brewing quickly spread to Africa, Asia and Europe. There are known Egyptian beer recipes, and sake is simply an Asian form of beer. The Slavs brewed a beer made out of rye called kvass, and most Europeans settled on traditional barley and wheat for their malting agents, which led to what we call beer today. Drawing on the traditions of older beer cultures and the culinary frontier of the United States today, there are many possibilities to explore.

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The wide variety of beer

The wide variety of beer