Cigars and Scotch: is there a more classic pairing? Whether you're just starting your cigar journey or are a seasoned member of the Brotherhood of the (tobacco) Leaf, you likely reach for a glass of the pure to accompany your favorite stick. Many smokers have a scotch brand that they swear by and drink with every cigar, while others pair specific malts with particular cigars or wrappers. But what exactly is scotch, and what makes it go so well with a good stogie? Well, simply put scotch is a kind of whiskey made in Scotland. Generally speaking, there are two categories of scotch: blended malt and single malt. There are plenty of amazing blends made from a combination of single malts and column-distilled grain whiskey, but for our purposes let's focus on single malt. In order for a scotch to qualify as a single malt, it must be distilled in a pot still from a single mash of pure malted barley. There's no corn, wheat, or rye as you might find in bourbon and other types of whiskey (with an 'e'). It must then be aged in oak barrels for no less than three years and be bottled at a minimum alcohol content of 40%, or 80 proof. Most scotches are aged for a decade or more, and some are aged for additional time in barrels previously used to age sherry, port, Sauternes, or other wines. Now, just because all single malts are made from just water, barley, and yeast does not mean that they all taste the same. Far from it! Many factors go into the final flavor of the whiskey, including where the water came from, the location of the distillery, and perhaps most importantly the method used to malt the barley. Since water sourcing and distillery location play such a big part in how the resulting whiskey tastes, scotch is generally divided into four main geographical categories: Highlands, Speyside, Islay, and Lowlands. Let's explore each region to see what makes its whiskey different and what cigars go best with their single malts.