PAIRINGS CIGARS AND SPIRITS
The traditional pairing for a good cigar has generally been a strong
spirit: The subtle sweetness of an aged Cuban rum or Spanish brandy, or
the heady, smoky nose of a fine single malt Scotch or whiskey are
faithful and true cigar companions. But what about beer? Let's take a
closer look at the flavors of some of the world's great brews and see if
there might be any suitable matches.
Pairing any strongly flavored consumables (beer, wine, food, cigars, and
spirits) isn't always easy, and there are certainly both good and bad
choices to be made. I wouldn't smoke a cigar with a crisp Hefeweizen any
more than I would drink a tannic red Chianti wine with raw oysters in
lemon vinaigrette. The results would be disgusting.
Give me that refreshing pale Hefeweizen with those oysters, or a steely
Sancerre, and that's a good match. And if you want to drink that young
Chianti, fire up the pasta pot and load on the Bolognese sauce. This
hearty Italian dinner would also be a fine time to pop a rich, deep
stout with the strength to carry its own weight under the load of acidic
tomatoes and savory, spicy chunks of sausage.
The average non-beer drinker (or worse, the "beer" drinker who has never
had anything but Bud or Coors) does not know the difference between,
say, a lambic, a wheat beer, and a smoked porter, and wouldn't have a
clue what foods or what other beers they would and wouldn't pair well
with. "Beer's beer, and it all tastes like Bud, right?"
Similarly, the average non-cigar smoker cannot tell the difference
between a light, grassy-earthy Mexican tobacco, a smoky-sweet Honduran
maduro or the powerfully rich and complex savor of a classic Cuban.
There is a difference, but it can take time to educate your palate
enough to be able to taste and appreciate the flavors and aromas. They
do exist, and cigar aficionados appreciate them in much the same way
that others can enjoy the different flavor profiles of various beers.
Pairing them together is a feat that takes some thinking about which
flavors and textures will best complement the others.