How to choose a cigar and cognac that complement each other
Smoking a cigar is not a passive activity. It’s a commitment that can occupy anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours of your time. It is also a ritual that is as much about appreciating and respecting the fact that it takes many, many skilled people to take it from seed to box as it is about cutting, lighting and smoking the cigar itself.
But above all else, smoking a cigar is a sensory experience. The aroma of the unlit tobacco, the subtleties present within the taste of the smoke and the look and feel of the stick in your hand. Heightening that experience is easily achieved by pairing your cigar with a complementary drink. And in many instances, a fine cognac is the absolute perfect pairing.
Choosing a cognac.
While we could certainly go down a rabbit hole of trying to match specific cigars to specific cognacs, for the purposes of this post I want to talk more broadly about some more basic ideas that go into a successful cigar and cognac pairing. You should always keep in mind that these things are very subjective. My favorite cigars might not be yours. Ditto for spirits. And a pairing I might love, you might not love quite so much.
The point is that I’m simply going to be making some suggestions rather than offer an ultra definitive guide. Experimentation is key and you’ve got to find out for yourself what you like best.
However, having said that, I believe it is very important to choose a very nice cognac to pair with a cigar. By “very nice” I mean something with a little bit of age. So skip the V.S. and go straight to a V.S.O.P., or better yet, an XO. You want something that is rich and robust to help stand up to the cigar. For this post, I chose Rémy Martin 1738, which actually sits between a V.S.O.P. and XO. At around $60, it’s not cheap, but it won’t break the bank either.
Choosing a cigar.
If you’ve followed the advice above and picked up a cognac with some flavor and body, it should come as no surprise that your cigar should also have some flavor to balance the cognac. In terms of strength we’re talking a medium to full smoke. I’ve read some other cigar and cognac pairing guides that advocate for mild to medium, but I honestly think that no matter how delicate a cognac may be that a mild cigar just isn’t a good pick.
With that in mind, here are four excellent (and affordable) cigars to consider.
Ashton Symmetry Sublime
There’s a feeling amongst cigar guys that the Ashton Symmetry Sublime might benefit from some aging, but whether or not you think so, it’s still a fine smoke and one that showed up (in robusto form) as the No. 8 cigar of 2015 in Cigar Aficionado. Flavors include creaminess, spice, wood, chocolate, coffee, leather, as well as hints of cinnamon and earth.
Ashton Symmetry Sublime, $12.75
La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse Regency
The La Aroma de Cuba Noblesse is a very smooth and well-balanced cigar. It is nutty, creamy and sweet with just a touch of pepper and spice, which is an excellent complement to cognac.
Padron 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo
A Padron is always a good choice. People like to make a big deal about Cuban cigars and, yes, many of them are fantastic, but Nicaraguan tobacco can run with the best of them. With this stick you’re going to get flavors of chocolate, coffee, earth and a little bit of pepper on the finish.
Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature
On the milder side of medium, but still a medium cigar. Although it’s not overly complex, you will get hints of cedar, nutmeg, vanilla, leather and a hint of pepper.
Chime in: Have a favorite cigar and cognac pairing? Share it in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.
He Spoke Style