Pairing Whiskeys With A Fine Cigar

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Whiskeys To Enjoy With A Perdomo Grand Cru

By Kurt Maitland

Knob Creek Single Barrel and a cigar

Knob Creek Single Barrel + a cigar
(Credit: John Rayls)

As many fans of whiskey love to partake in the occasionally cigar as well, matching a fine cigar to a good whiskey is a popular topic for conversation, seminars and workshops. My own game plan for creating these pairings is to take one cigar and try several options, including both reasonably priced drams along with some more expensive options.

My first comment on cigar and whiskey pairings focuses on the Perdomo Grand Cru 2006 Grand Robusto, acquired via the Famous Smoke Shop in my hometown of Easton, Pennsylvania. The shorthand on the Perdomo Grand Cru flavor profile is that is the cigar is like “Roasted Espresso” with “Rich, Dark Cocoa Flavors.” Its background is as follows:

The Perdomo Grand Cru 2006 cigars are deftly handcrafted with Nicaraguan-grown Cuban-seed tobaccos chosen as the Grand Cru (best of the best) from a rare 2006 bumper crop. After fermentation, the tobaccos are aged in Spanish cedar bins for an additional 9 months, then rolled to a fat 60 ring in earthy Sun Grown, silky smooth Connecticut, or savory Double Maduro wrappers.

Strength: Full, Shape: Robusto, Size: 5 x 60, Country: Nicaragua, Wrapper Color: Maduro, Wrapper Origin: Nicaraguan, Wrapper Leaf: Maduro

(Credit: Famous Smoke Shop

Perdomo Grand Cru 2006 Grand Robustos
(Credit: Famous Smoke Shop)

With that pedigree, what whiskeys would make for the best pairings? I tried 10 different expressions, running a gamut of bourbons, single malts and two grain whiskies, including a few NAS releases. The two grain whiskies (the Haig Club Single Grain and the Nikka Coffey Grain) had differing levels of success in keeping up with the presence of the Perdomo but didn’t break into my top 5 (don’t worry, they will get other chances with other, future cigars).

Here are the five expressions that worked the best with the Pedromo:

5. Barrell Bourbon Batch 004: This high octane expression (58.4% abv, or almost 120 proof) had the power to stand up to the flavors of the Grand Cru. The smoke tamps down some of the bourbon’s sweetness but enough fruit and vanilla make it through so as to not diminish the experience of either.

4. Talisker Dark Storm: This is a travel only/NAS release from the Talisker distillery. Even without the cigar, the Dark Storm improves on the original “Storm” release by having a much better finish. Why I liked this pairing is that the Dark Storm came to the party bringing its own smoke, along with flavor elements that aren’t in the standard Talisker release. It doesn’t give way to the earthy presence of the Perdomo. Instead, their disparate smoke profiles mix, mingles and leaves you with a fine combo.

3. Compass Box Peat Monster: No surprise here. Compass Box makes some of the best crafted whisky blends out there and has often received praise in these pages. The peat smoke of the whisky went well with the favor profile of the cigar. No fuss, no muss, just right on this one.

2. Craigellachie 23 Yr Old: Now this whisky is a beauty in and of itself. Briefly, The Craigellachie is one of the single malts that make up the Dewar’s blends and was recently released as part of their “Last Great Malts” collection (which includes Aultmore, Aberfeldy, The Royal Brackla and the Deveron). This is Dewer’s version of Diageo’s “Classic Malts” and many a single malt fan was curious to taste distillery released versions of these expressions. The 23 Yr Old expression is a feisty bugger with fruit and sassyness for days. It’s a pricey dram but definitely a “must try” if you get the chance. (Keep an eye out for a formal review, but for now back to the pairing). With the Perdomo, the Craigellachie is resolute. It loses little of its charm or fruitiness with the addition of the smoke but instead pulls it in for a warm embrace. This whisky is amazing and pairing it with the Perdomo just helps to highlight its strengths.

1. Bruichladdich Classic Laddie: I’ve had the pleasure this year of visiting the Bruichladdich distillery during this year’s Feis Iles and seeing the legend known as Jim McEwen, take his last bows as their Master Distiller. The Classic Laddie is one of his creations and as I said in my review, he will be missed. Jim is known to enjoy a cigar and if I didn’t know better, I’d say he crafted this release with a cigar like the Perdomo in mind. This NAS release (that for the time being buys Bruichladdich time to rebuild their whisky stocks in order to re-release the beloved Laddie Ten) is 100% proof and has no problem with the taking on the smoke. This expression’s nose and palate stands up to the rich flavors of the Grand Cru with ease and pushes back with a zest and a bite that cannot be denied.

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One comment

  1. I always have a tough time pairing my cigars with a whiskey so this was really helpful. I think I finally have it narrowed down now.

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