There are some taste experiences that elevate themselves above simple foods and drinks. A good example is a coffee: this is a social event, it is a whole culture, and there is a whole lot to learn.
The same goes for smoking cigars and drinking whiskey. This is an experience and a life skill – not just a delicious and indulgent treat.
In this post, we’ll be looking at why whiskey and cigars are the perfect match, and more specifically why the Daniel Marshall Red Label and 1792 Sweet Wheat are a match made in heaven…
Why Cigars and Whiskey?
First, why enjoy a cigar and whiskey at the same time in the first place? The answer is that they can serve as the perfect complement to one another.
Both whiskey and cigars are things that you enjoy on a special occasion. They are luxuries and are a little more expensive and a little more refined than a glass of beer or a cigarette. That makes the things that you save for a special occasion. And it makes the things that you only share with people who are really important to you.
If your boss offers you a cigar, then you better accept it – as this is a great way to get closer and to really get to know the man or woman paying your wage! Likewise, if your partner’s father offers you a glass of whiskey – then it basically means you’ve been welcomed into the family!
You might receive a glass of whiskey for your 21st birthday, or you might be given a cigar when you learn to drive or on your wedding day. These mark a special occasion.
And the reason for that is that they both force you to slow down and really appreciate them. You can’t smoke a cigar quickly, and if you ‘down’ whiskey, you’ll soon regret it.
At the same time, whiskey and cigars both complement each other perfectly in terms of the taste. These are both strong and complex flavors. They are both things that will sit in your mouth and in your stomach. They are warming, they are okay, they are smoky, and they are nutty. It’s just the same as the way that certain food-pairings work well together: like cheese and grapes. It just works.
But with all that being said, some whiskeys and some cigars are better matched than others. This article will break down an ideal combination.
The Whiskey: 1792 Sweet Wheat
First, let’s take a look at the whiskey that we’re going to be drinking.
Specifically, we’re talking about the brand 1792. This is a fantastic whiskey brand that has won a significant number of awards, and that is enjoyed by aficionados who really enjoy savoring and drinks and letting them linger.
The 1792 used to be known as the 1792 Ridgewood Reserve but has since simplified its name. That name is an homage to the year that Kentucky first became a state. As you might expect then, 1792 is located in the state, which is considered to be the real home of bourbon whiskey.
The brand is owned by the Barton 1792 Distillery, which in turn is part of the Sazerac Company. The company specializes in a number of small-batch whiskeys, typically aimed at a higher-end market as compared with the likes of Jack Daniels and others.
1792 has won countless awards for its quality and taste – and for good reason. This is a whiskey for people who really love whiskey.
As a bourbon, that means that 1792 makes dark and flavorsome whiskeys that come from the US only and that are only ever matured in brand new barrels. This is the best type of whiskey to match with a cigar – as the complex and spicy flavors will match perfectly.
1792 is a brand, however, meaning that it makes more than one type of whiskey. Specifically, it is the Sweet Wheat that we are recommending here. This is a bourbon that was made using delicate wheat as opposed to the usual rye. This provides a very smooth, very gentle flavor. Each sip will be drier and more fruity than the last, and this makes it a great whiskey for those that enjoy a sweeter flavor. As we’ll see in a moment, it is this flavor that makes the whiskey such as perfect match for the Red Label.
The Cigar: Daniel Marshall Red Label
As for the cigar, we’re going to be pairing here; we’re looking at the Daniel Marshall Red Label. This is a Nicaraguan super-premium which has a lot of positive hype surrounding it – and for good reason. It is held together by a five-year-old Nicaraguan Habano wrapper and has a very earthy core. Despite seeming quite dry at first though, that core is highlighted by notes of sweetness which come through. These will bring to mind espresso and cocoa. It’s very bold and very inviting, and it has a complex and interesting combination of flavors that is worthy of careful reflection.
And of course, it’s also that sweetness that will ideally match the sweetness that comes through in the Sweet Wheat.
A sweeter cigar and whiskey combo can be a wise choice for those that are starting out as it can be a little more welcoming than something that is very savory and very dry.
The Cigar is a medium-full strength and has Churchill 7 x 48 shape. It will only set you back $11 for a smoke! Churchills are often considered ‘serious’ cigars for those that know what they’re doing. At 7” long, they can last a good amount of time with the ring gauge of 47. They give off a thick and heavy smoke.
When choosing a cigar to enjoy, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the best cigar will be the most expensive one. Higher prices don’t always reflect the higher quality, and you likely won’t be able to distinguish the subtle tastes if you’re new to smoking anyway. Look for something mid-tier. This is a great place to start!
One useful tip though is to try feeling the cigar for hard or soft spots. A gentle roll between your fingers will tell you if the cigar has a firm and consistent texture and that in turn will give you a good indication as to whether it has been well made.
How to Enjoy Whiskey and Cigars
I talked in another post on how to enjoy a cigar the best way. So, to enjoy this combo, the remaining question is how to correctly appreciate that cold glass of whiskey. Here is what you need to know…
Firstly, it’s always a good idea to try different whiskeys. If you like American whiskey, then you have the choice of bourbon, rye, or Tennessee. Bourbon is made from at least 51% corn, while rye is made from 51% rye (no surprise!). Tennessee is filtered through charcoal. We recommend bourbon for enjoying with a cigar, hence the 1792. But do try a few to find that perfect flavor for you.
To properly enjoy whiskey, you need to drink from the right type of vessel. You can enjoy whiskey from a mug if you want… but for the ultimate experience then you need to drink from a glass – and ideally an old-fashioned or lowball glass. This is a short tumbler that holds about 6-10oz. You can also get whiskey glasses, which are tulip shaped to make it easier to ‘nose’ (smell) the whiskey. Or go retro and drink from a tin cup!
The big question, of course, is whether to drink your whiskey neat or to add ice or water (no, CocaCola is not an option here!). You should always experience the whiskey neat the first time around, as that is what it was designed for. But adding water or ice is a matter of preference. This will lower the ABV and is typically done for stronger whiskeys. Ice can take the punch off, but the most serious pros will decry it.
Finally, to drink your whiskey properly, always have a good sniff first. You can think of this as letting your nose ‘lead’ on the experience. This is a big part of where your taste comes from, and in this case, we really want to be guided by that scent. Now sip slowly and let the liquid roll around your mouth. Pick out the different flavors and really try to be present for the experience.
Oh, and one last tip: never dip your cigar in your drink!
So, there you have it, another delicious combination to try out and some tips that will help you to get the very most from both your cigar and your whiskey. These are both fantastic experiences on their own. Put them together, and you have the perfect, classy way to spend an afternoon or evening. Enjoy and make sure to invite a good friend round to share the experience.