Whether it’s cigar and scotch pairing, cigar and beer pairing or any cigar and liquor pairing, even the most seasoned cigar smokers and spirit connoisseurs can sometimes find themselves at a loss when pairing drinks with cigars. In fact, the very ability to pair cigars and spirits strikes many as a mystery. But like most mysteries, it can be solved, for there is a clue, and it is literally right on the tip of your tongue. It is simply a matter of learning how to taste.
You already use your natural tasting abilities when you select the dressing to put on a salad, or decide which wine to drink with dinner. Your palate tells you what is right for you. And the more you use your sense of taste, the more refined it becomes. That’s how professional cigar makers and whiskey distillers develop their expertise.
For example, a cigar master can pick out a single tobacco leaf, and by smelling it and smoking it, can identify the type of tobacco, tell you where it was grown, and how far along it is in the fermentation or aging process. Likewise, a master distiller can “nose” a sample of whiskey taken from a barrel and separate the aromas into a multitude of flavors. He can even tell you its proof! Cigar masters and master distillers are called “masters” for a reason; they spend years developing their skills – and tasting is definitely a skill. Luckily, like most skills, such as learning how to smoke a cigar like a pro, it can be learned.
Few things are more satisfying, from a palate pleasing point of view, than pairing your favorite cigar with a suitable libation. Some classic pairings with cigars are cognac, single malt whisky, bourbon, rum, rye, and port. With the exception of tequila, most white spirits – such as vodka and gin – do not work as well because the cigar will overpower the drink.
Of course, there are always exceptions. Some red wines and certain beers can also make a great match with cigars. The main criteria is not to let the drink dominate the cigar, or vice versa.
I like to tell people who are pairing drinks with cigars to simply match the body of the beverage to the body of the cigar. For example, a light-bodied cigar will go well with some white wines, young reds or blended scotches. Medium-bodied smokes are great with Speyside and some Lowland whiskies, most Irish whiskeys, rums, bourbons, ryes and ports. Full-bodied smokes are a perfect match with peaty Islay and heavier Highland single malts.
Pairing cigars with wines and spirits is just one part of the equation. Craft beer and even some cocktails can make for great pairings, too. But in the end, your taste is the final judge as to what will work and what won’t when it comes to pairing cigars and spirits. Have fun testing out different smoke and drink combinations and develop your own perfect pairings.
Macanudo cigars are America’s most-requested premium cigar. Always mild, aromatic and easy to draw, Macanudo Café cigars are handcrafted in the Dominican Republic with silky Connecticut shade wrappers that are triple-fermented for extra smoothness. Inside is a perfectly balanced blend of double-aged Dominican longfillers bound in a leaf from Mexico’s St. André s Tuxtla Valley. From the little Ascots to the towering Prince of Wales, Macanudo is recommended for both men and women as well as for those who are new to smoking premium cigars.
A Look Back at Mac’
Macanudo was originally the name of a frontmark produced in Jamaica by the makers of the Cuban brand of Punch cigars. In 1971, General Cigar Company introduced a new cigar named Macanudo as a brand unto itself. Developed in Jamaica under the creative leadership of Ramón Cifuentes, the legendary Cuban cigar master of Partagas, Macanudo soon became the leading premium cigar and remains so today.
Before General Cigar became the official manufacturer of Macanudo cigars, it helps to go back a little farther to the Cullman family who first marketed the cigar and eventually became the owners of General Cigar. The Cullmans cigar-making history starts with Ferdinand Cullman who emigrated to the U.S. in 1848. Shortly after his arrival, Ferdinand began making cigars, and eventually Ferdinand’s son Joseph joined him. Ironically, their cigars did not fare as well as the cigars that Joseph’s son, Joseph Cullman Jr. made after he began planting Cuban-seed tobacco on his Connecticut plantation. Though his father was cynical about growing tobacco in Connecticut, Joseph Cullman Jr. had great success. The result was a shade-grown wrapper leaf with a light brown color, silky feel and a marvelously mild flavor and aroma. This rare, Connecticut wrapper leaf changed everything.
However, the man who really took Macanudo cigars to true heights of popularity was Joseph Jr.’s son, Edgar Cullman. Edgar learned the business literally from the ground up. He studied everything from the planting and cultivation of tobacco to rolling cigars. Now all Edgar needed was a partner to make the cigars and a company to market them. So, in 1960 Edgar bought General Cigar Company, and in 1968 he purchased Macanudo cigars, which at that time were being made by a small tabacalera in Jamaica.
The cigars would be blended with two to three year-aged Dominican and Jamaican tobaccos bound in a San Andres-grown Mexican leaf, and rolled in the exceptional Connecticut shade leaf that Edgar’s father had developed. To make sure the cigars were top-grade, Cullman hired Ramon Cifuentes of Cuban Partagas cigars fame who had left Cuba after the Revolution. The cigars were finally introduced to the market in 1971, and three years later, Ramon’s proté gé and future president of General Cigar Corp., Daniel Nuñez came onboard. Nuñez eventually became responsible for creating a number of line extensions for the company such as the Vintage Series, Maduro, and Robust among others.
Today Macanudo cigars are no longer made in Jamaica nor with Jamaican tobaccos, but they’ve never lost their prestige. Under Nuñez’s direction, the brand became even more popular, and eventually became the biggest selling cigar in America.
Every cigar smoker should experience the creamy flavor and sweet aroma of Macanudo cigars at least once in their lifetime. No humidor should be without some Macanudos. Order your box or a 5-pack now.