Whiskey Sticks: Pairing Whiskey with Cigars

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We are living in the true golden age of the cigar business, a real renaissance of tobacco cultivation and breeding going on in the Dominican Republic and Estelli, Nicaragua due to globalization and a strong American and European dollar in South America. With the same ancient quality that my butcher makes my favorite farm raised, free range, herb infused, linked sausages and USDA certified organic pork, the cigar makers craft blending tobaccos for every individual taste and palate. This Old World Craftsmanship movement inspired me to join the local cigar club and give this thing the “ol’ college effort” once again. And of course, the perfect accompaniment for a good stogie is a great whiskey. Every month I’ll be bringing you a pairing of a truly exceptional cigar with a matched whiskey—be it Scotch, Irish, Bourbon, or other.

This Month’s Pairing

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La Flor Dominicana
Double Ligero Digger Maduro Grande
8 ½ x 60
Very Full Strength
Consensus Rating: 5 Star

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The Black Grouse
Peaty Speyside
Blended Scotch Whiskey
80 Proof
Consensus Rating: 4 Star

I wanted my first review to be a five star, full flavor, four hour weekend smoke that would knock you on your ass. I looked for an expensive cigar that would pair well with red meat and a peaty Speyside Scotch like Laphroig or Lagavulin. This Digger is a hearty, robust and LARGE smoke in the vein of the La Gloria Cubana Series R. A friend happened to bring me one with a bottle of the Black Grouse on a pool excursion and cookout we had this weekend. We grilled ribeyes and marinated flank steak with the savory spices of sage, rosemary and Lawry’s (for your money you can’t cook red meat or fried chicken without Lawry’s, at least here in the South).

The whiskey was bold and smooth at the same time—a combination I usually only find in tequila these days. I tasted the spicy caramelized heather and sprouted barley “punch” with an extremely smooth earthy malted peat finish. This was my first time having Black Grouse, and I was impressed with its strength to stand alone. It especially paired well with the other robust flavors in the food and tobacco. If you like the Famous Grouse you will be very pleased with this maker’s blending efforts. It doesn’t overpower other savory flavors in the tobacco and food, but it complements them quite well.

Back to the cigar. You have to prepare yourself for this stick. It will turn you green rather fast if you are not a seasoned pro tobacco lover (or even if you are: BE WARY). Enjoying the Black Grouse with each draw will only heighten the enjoyment and fuel the punch of the extra nicotine by thinning the blood to optimum levels. Draw this one slowly, setting it down between long slow pulls on your favorite ash tray or cigar holder. Allow the ash to build up as long as possible for a cooler draw—and enjoy the earthy and bitter chocolate notes that will tingle your taste buds as the lukewarm air delivers a tiny tickle to your tongue and throat.

After an hour, you will only be a quarter to halfway through this monstrous giant, but there is no saving it. Plan to start it before your meal as the sun sets and it becomes Scotch weather. Finish it after your dinner or grill fest, enjoying the scotch before, during and after the meal. Plan to be up late—the nicotine will be coursing through your veins like the warm blood that houses it. Dig deep Digger fans to finish your prize. You will only know the true joy of the stick when you are on the back end of this powerhouse.

Once finished, I sat there green again, but fat and happy, full of meat, and booze, and loving every minute of it. Every cigar lover should experience the feeling of a powerful whiskey and stick like these at least once. Then you will know that the milder ones that give you pleasure on the course or at the club every day, have a wicked little cousin out there waiting to please your bellicose desires when needed.

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