Scotch and Cigar Pairing

My husband recently acquired a taste and appreciation for single malt scotch – I blame that and all the other expensive new hobbies on his close friend, Shawn. Actually, I shouldn’t be too harsh on Shawn – he is, after all the man who taught my husband how to hunt wild hogs that live in the area. So I guess the savings from not having a freezer-full of pork mitigates the bottles of Scotch that magically appear on our shelf.

A few months ago, we had a chance to meet Master Blender, Richard Paterson from The Dalmore. I brought along both Scott and Shawn — and let me tell you I scored big time points from my husband for that meet-up. Let’s just say the list of things that needed to get done in the house diminished greatly that following week.

Father’s Day is coming up, and I asked Richard to be a guest blogger and write about Scotch and Cigar parings as a possible gift. Enjoy….I know what my husband wants for Father’s Day!


p.s. These photos were taken at Shawn’s house in his man-cave (errr….cigar room) it was pretty dark in the room, and even with a tripod and a fancy camera, the photos still didn’t turn out as sharp as I would have like them!

A Unique Father’s Day Palate: Scotch and Cigar Pairings for the Sophisticated Dad

By Richard Paterson, Master Blender at The Dalmore

It’s no secret that neckties and golf accessories are united in being both the most popular and least exciting gifts that one can bestow on their father come June 20th, 2010. Why not treat dear old dad this year with a present that will not only surprise him, but also make all the other men on the block wish their wives and children were a bit more creative in the gift department?

In an era of Mad Men and the Renaissance of a nicely tailored suit, more and more men are appreciating the finer things in life, and nothing exudes sophistication more than the classic pairing of a fine cigar and a glass of scotch. That being said, how many of us have indulged in the gratifying practice of retiring to the lounge for such revelry?

The Dalmore has been brewing single malt whiskey since 1839, so we believe we know a thing or two about the subject, and our effort to make Father’s Day 2010 the most tasteful ever, we’ve put together this cheat sheet of just how one can go about putting together a specific scotch and cigar pairing for the man of the house. Next to a pocket square or a vintage library chair, we can’t imagine a better way to bring out the stylish father in all our dads.

Scotch is to cigars as fine wine is to food
If you’ve smoked a cigar, or even simply smelled one, there is no denying that cigars carry a lot of weight as far as flavor and odor. Similar to the way you would choose a fine red wine for an Italian meal or a refreshing white for a light salad, one can think along the lines of flavor weights.

For instance, The Dalmore Gran Reserva features an intense citrus and spicy experience with a vanilla finish. With this in mind, what type of cigar would compliment these flavors? We could also ask what tastes good alongside oranges, sweet marmalade and spice cake.

The Fuente King T is a great example of a cigar that works well with a blend such as Gran Reserva. With just a hint of cedar spice, the natural oaky woodiness of the King T enhances the already present flavors of the scotch.

Size does matter
For anyone that has imbibed a strong tasting beverage, even soda, over a meal more delicate in its flavors, you’ll know that tastes can overpower one another in just a single sip. Scotch and cigars are no different. The simple rule to remember is that a full-bodied single malt whisky will compliment a full-bodied cigar, and thus a medium-bodied whisky pairs favorably with a medium-bodied cigar.

Luckily, any scotch or whisky worth buying typically come with tasting notes and are described with these traits. To use the King Fuente T and The Dalmore Gran Reserva example again, both are attributed as having “medium body,” thus making them a match made in heaven for the senses.

In the end, we’re really talking about flavor synergies. The Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III, which features one of the most unique flavorings in the whisky industry today because of the pioneering aging process of aging the single malt in a range of wine and spirit casks, needs a cigar that can pick up where the scotch ends.

King Alexander features a taste menu that includes French Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques; Madeira drums; sherry butts from Jerez de la Frontera; marsala barrels from Sicily; port pipes from the Douro; and sweet bourbon barrels from Kentucky. Not fluent in single malt whisky? That translates to the flavors of crushed almonds, rich citrus fruit, hints of wild berries and freshly picked plums, all topped off with vanilla and creamy caramel accents and the barriques of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

For a blend as complex as this, it may seem difficult to imagine anything, including a cigar, being able to assist in making this any more delicious. The Fuente Fuente Opus X Petit Lancero, which has been described as a “firecracker of flavors” by Cigar Aficionado, brings its deep roasted wood and leather notes along for the ride and only deepens the enjoyment of parallel, yet different tastes.