Beyond Whiskey: 4 Authentic Cigar Pairings

Category_Cigarsby Juan Panesso
Cigar Pairings


When it comes to cigar pairings, whiskey tends to get all of the attention. Most pairing conversations are even limited to scotch, just one family of whiskeys from the cold and rainy British Isles. But because cigars come from the Caribbean, with all its vibrant colors and flavors, it pays to explore other pairings once in a while. The first recorded mention of cigars comes from the journeys of Christopher Columbus. He observed the Taino smoking primitive cigars and accepted their gifts of tobacco leaves. After that, things went south for the natives, and that’s a tragic story for another time. But to this day, the vast majority of cigars and cigar tobacco is still produced in Latin America and the Caribbean, and they’re not obsessed with whiskey pairings. Instead, more popular liquors from that part of the world are rum, Rhum Agricole, Tequila, and Mezcal. Let's take a look at each spirit and a cigar that pairs perfectly with it.


cigar and rum Since the 17th century, rum has been the quintessential Caribbean spirit. From pirates to revolutionaries, rum has fueled Caribbean history, culture, and mythology. It played an integral part in American history as well and was the first major industry in New England. When the Colonies rebelled against the Sugar Act, they were perhaps more worried about their supply of rum than about sweetener for their tea. It wasn't until independence cut the newly formed USA off from British sugar supplies that whiskey became the new American spirit. But what exactly is rum? When Europeans colonized the Caribbean, they discovered that they could use the islands to grow massive amounts of sugarcane and turn a hefty profit. When the sugarcane juice was boiled to make crystallized sugar, a bunch of caramelized gunk was left in the pot. Looking for a way to make use of this byproduct, otherwise known as molasses, slaves on the sugar plantations took to fermenting it and then later to distilling it. And so rum was born. Hell yeah! Now, just about every Caribbean island produces its own style of rum and the range of premium rums is greater than ever. When looking for the best cigar pairings with rum, look for rums that have been aged in oak barrels just like a good whiskey. Jamaican Appleton Estate 12 is a good choice with plenty of oak and molasses and a price tag of just $35. For a sweeter option, go for Cruzan Single Barrel. And if you can get it, don't dare drink genuine Cuban Havana Club 7 or 12 years without a cigar in your hand. Unsurprisingly, rum pairs best with a traditional Cuban-style cigar. And we can think of no such cigar that goes as well with the Caribbean spirit as...

My Father

The namesake for Jose “Pepin” Garcia's signature line, My Father is one of the most highly regarded cigars you can buy. Pepin was a master roller in Cuba until he moved to Miami in 2001 and started blending his own cigars. Since leaving Cuba, his mission has been to perfectly recreate the cigars of his homeland. And according to critics and smokers alike, he knocked it out of the park with My Father. The long-fillers are entirely Cuban-seed Nicaraguan tobacco and are blanketed in a gorgeous Habano-Rosado wrapper from Ecuador. Expect classic Cuban pepper from the filler tobacco to lead the party, but this is a much stronger and more complex smoke than most Cuban-style blends. Pepin knew what he was doing when he chose the Ecuadorian wrapper. It adds the perfect amount of nut and coffee notes to balance out the pepper and compliment the classic flavors of premium rum.

Rhum Agricole

cigar paired with rum Wait, you may be thinking, didn't we already talk about rum? You're not going crazy, we absolutely did. But what we haven't talked about is rum's eccentric cousin Rhum. With an “h.” Rhum Agricole, as it is officially known, comes from the French Caribbean islands like Haiti and Martinique. When sugar beet production started to undercut the sugarcane market in the early 19th century, the sugar factories of the French Caribbean had to look for a new source of profit. They found themselves with a whole lot of extra sugarcane juice lying around and decided to distill that instead of using molasses-like producers in the rest of the Caribbean. The result was Rhum Agricole, which continues to be made from fresh sugarcane juice. Rhum is a much lighter, drier, and grassier drink than molasses-based rum. Its vegetal punch can make it an acquired taste, but it is becoming increasingly popular. The most famous brand is Haiti's Rhum Barbancourt, which is also a great introduction to the style as well as a supreme sipping liquor. The 5 Star 8-Year-Old bottle will give you plenty of vanilla, oak, and citrus with just a hint of the grass. If you have the budget for it, Plantation Rum Guadeloupe 1998 is another amazing choice. Un-aged Rhum is particularly grassy and does much better in cocktails than straight. The lighter, grassier nature of Rhum makes it the perfect complement to a quality Connecticut cigar such as the...

Oliva Connecticut Reserve

Very few brands exude luxury and class like Oliva does. If you asked us for a single word to describe Oliva, we'd have to go for “gold” – their band doesn't give us much of a choice. And nowhere is that truer than it is in this light, elegant stick. Quality Cuban-seed Nicaraguan long-fillers add body and flavor to the stunning Connecticut wrapper. A silky smooth smoke, this cigar won't challenge you, but it will satisfy any discerning smoker. There's flavor in spades, with notes of wood and coffee backing up the creamy body. There is a reason why the Oliva Connecticut Reserve is considered the best mild to medium cigar around. It is a great choice to introduce someone to cigar smoking, or for the experienced smoker to relax with a glass of Rhum. The body and light sweetness of the cigar is the perfect complement to the vanilla and oak flavors of aged Rhum Agricole.


cigar with tequila Fermented agave juice has been consumed in Mexico since before Europeans first landed, and tequila has been officially distilled since 1666. While Mexico is not as famous for its cigars as its fellow Central American countries or its neighbors in the Caribbean, tequila has been a traditional accompaniment to cigars for centuries. In your college days, you may have put down shots of just about anything with a lime next to it (or not). If you’re looking to treat yourself a little better, focus on tequilas made from 100% blue agave. Reposado and Añejo tequilas are aged in white oak, making them the best siping options. Espolon is a stellar brand that is readily available stateside and will reward the drinker with plenty of peppercorns, vanilla, nutmeg, and fruit flavors. Which pair well with a Cameroon cigar such as:

Nub Cameroon

Nub cigars are the result of an experiment by Oliva to capture just the best part of the cigar. They are all approximately 4 inches long and come in robust ring sized between 58 and 66 in order to create a lengthy smoking experience that starts and ends in the “sweet spot”. Whether or not Oliva succeeded in its experiment is up to you to decide, but most folks think they created some damn good sticks. The big ring size and short length result in a perfect draw, few burn issues, and billowing clouds of flavorful smoke. The leathery Cameroon wrapper delivers loads of cedar and sweet spice, with a serious amount of pepper. This little earthy gem perfectly balances out the lightly pungent flavors of good aged tequila.


mezcal and cigars The Islay Scotch of the tequila world, mezcal is prized for its smoky punch. It is produced from roasted and fermented whole agave as opposed to the fresh blue agave juice used to make tequila. This process results in the unique smoky flavor. While it is often aged for months or years, mezcal is a sipping beverage even when it is not aged. Two popular and commonly available options are Del Maguey Vida Single Village Mezcal and Montelobos Mezcal Joven, both unaged. They will deliver heaps of smoke, salt, and citrus. Mezcal is a challenging drink that needs a strong-bodied cigar to stand up to it. And there is none better than...

Drew Estate Liga Privada T52

Made from a truly unique “American Habano” Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Liga Privada T52 is Drew Estate's masterpiece. The folks at Drew Estate searched the world for the right wrapper and happened across this special leaf on a farm in Connecticut. They then spent months getting the filler formula right. The resulting cigar is a marriage of seven distinct tobaccos, and each stick is aged for at least a year before hitting the shelves to allow the flavors to blend. This is a full, full-bodied cigar that delivers tons of leather, earth, and cedar with just enough citrus to lighten the palate. It burns slow and easy and every single stick is supremely well constructed. Drew Estate has invested an enormous amount of effort into crafting one of the strongest and most complex smokes around, and it paid off. Few cigars will be able to tell a potent mezcal who's boss, but this one fits the bill.