Typically, if you’re into whiskey at all you’ve heard of a pairing. You can pair whiskey with just about anything but that doesn’t mean that it will always be good. Chances are if you’ve paired whiskey with something else it was either a mixed drink or food. For this section, we take a look at whiskey paired with cigars.
For many, whiskey and cigars go together like peanut butter and jelly but for others they may not understand what brings two such strong flavors together. Whiskey itself is already quite potent so why would I pair it with something spicy like a cigar? I look at it like this, first off not all cigars are going to work with all whiskeys you have to go into it knowing that.
Padron 4000 Natural
Size: 6 1/2 x 54
Strength: Medium (Stronger towards the final 3rd)
Average Price: 8 USD
Think of it this way, if you’ve ever used a very bright colored marker, crayon or pencil to try and make a picture you’ve realized that it doesn’t show up very well on white paper but smoking a cigar gives you an opportunity to analyze the whiskey with a black background instead of a white background allowing different notes in the whiskey and the cigar to seemingly pop on your palate. It’s this special property that makes pairing the two such an enjoyable and unique journey.
The good pairings are special though and can draw you even further into your hobby with new flavors and combinations that you will seldom have with whiskey or cigars alone.
Now come along with me as I experience a rather common and affordable cigar with a high proof bourbon. The cigar I chose is the Padron Natural 4000. Pardon is well known for its consistency, and in this case it’s affordable and available, but they don’t really have a bad smoke in the whole line up.
Visual / Pre-light Draw
Taking a look at this cigar, as I often do, I notice the texture, the color, and the construction. This is a simple beauty with a simple mauve and white label simply saying “padron”. As you look more closely you will see the veins of the tobacco in the wrapper with a slight oily sheen that will almost glimmer in the right light. The cigar is simple with very little flash but it is solid head to foot. When you pick it up you notice that it has some give to it when you squeeze telling you that this will have an easy draw and you will get a heavy smoke volume when you puff on this cigar. The pre-lite draw offers some insight into this cigars profile and the Padron 4000 doesn’t hold back. Right away, you taste notes of hay with some sweetness like a sweetened corn cereal or graham cracker before a bit of tart nuttiness.
The draw is great and immediately clouds of smoke are coming from this finely constructed cigar. It is smoking with very little effort and the ash is a dark gray. Flavors are starting to pronounce themselves with nutty toasted leaves and wood like kindling but more gentle than a fire leading into bits of unsweetened dark cocoa with black pepper spice.
Second / Final Third
While the Padron 4000 doesn’t drop off at all here, it doesn’t really change much either. Often times cigars will have much more distinct 3rds as you smoke through them but this one simply offers a bit stronger version of the same notes you got in the first third. It is spicier in the 2nd third with black pepper taking a larger roll and earthy tones of hay and wood play with leaves and a very faint cocoa. The sweetness is nearly gone now and there is a bit more of a bitterness permeating from inside the smoke. The clouds are still rolling but the strength of the cigar increases quite a bit in the final 3rd. The spice and black pepper has joined up with leaves and hay in a tart yet full way.
I chose the whiskey of the year for 2019 as selected by Jim Murray. Now this is not the same bottle that he had nor is it the same barrel even but its fun to act like just because one of them was amazing that all 1792 full proof is whiskey of the year anyway right?
The whiskey on its own is a big, sweet, and spicy behemoth with a full yet delicate feel on your palate. I figured this would be fun to pair with the light yet flavorful Padron 400 natural. After a few puffs of the cigar, I went into the whiskey. 1792 full proof rushed over my palate delivering a much needed sweetness to my spicy and earthy cigar. The notes that popped out for me were quite fruity and creamy. There was cherry and classic sweet fruit punch flavors with some spice from both the black pepper of the cigar and the charred notes from the barrel the whiskey was aged in. The more I messed with this pairing the more I found with this beautiful raisin dipped in frosting note that really completed this pairing for me. I would consider this a 5/5 pairing sure it could be more complex but sometimes simple is best and its hard to beat the simple greatness of the Padron 4000.