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Bourbon & Cigars

Posted by on Dec 3, 2013

Bourbon and cigars share numerous similarities that can help enhance one another. The flavours, scents and strength of either one can work together or play off of each other other.  For example, the caramel and wood flavours in bourbons can help to bring out other complexities in the cigar that may not be initially apparent due to the spiciness or bitterness of the cigar. However, choosing incorrectly can definitely hurt the experience. Choosing strong flavoured bourbons for a mild cigar could take away from any notes the cigar has and a stronger cigar could overpower visa versa, a light and smooth bourbon. It’s important to pick something that has a little bit of both, balanced if you will. That being said, any combination you chose is completely subjective and if you enjoy it, go with it!

While having this cigar I had the luxury of three bourbons.

makersmarkMaker’s is a fairly common find in most liquor stores, but don’t let that fool you, it’s surprisingly complex for a large batch Kentucky bourbon. Initial flavours of nuttiness and molasses give way to nice clean finish. This is definitely the reliable, go to bourbon that won’t break the bank in any way. The molasses notes go well with the initial spiciness of the Nica Claro and it’s clean finish matches nicely throughout the cigar. It definitely helps to enhance the change from spiciness to smoothness in the cigar.

bookersBooker’s is definitely the heavyweight of the three. This is one of those grit your teeth and strap yourself in for the ride types. Initial flavours of vanilla and heavy smokiness move on to almost a tobacco and fruit combination with a long, heavy and intense finish. This bourbon seemed to overpower the cigar’s flavour. The silver lining though was that it definitely highlighted the transformation from spiciness to a smooth nutty flavour about halfway through the cigar.

hookersThis is a very cool and very different bourbon. This bourbon is distilled in Kentucky but aged in previously used Pinot Noir barrels in Sonoma CA, definitely makes for an interesting taste. Initial fruitiness and minor hints of caramel eventually move into a subtle spiciness with hints of cloves and cinnamon. It finishes with a smooth fruity taste where you can pick up on the flavours of the Pinot Noir barrels ever so slightly. This was an all around good fit for the cigar due to what seemed like a balanced interaction between the two. The smoothness of Hooker’s House complimented the initial spiciness of the Nica Claro. The hints of spiciness hidden in the bourbon helped to balance out the mellowness of the second third of the cigar. All around, this was the best pairing.
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Growing up, Jackson was often encouraged to endeavor in his passions no matter what the investment; time, cash or otherwise. Now working at one of Canada's leading investment firms, he still enjoys the finer hobbies of his youth: golf, road biking and now bourbon and cigars. With a bourbon and whiskey experience ranging form two continents and hundreds of bottles from the common Jack Daniels to his prized George T. Stagg and Macallan "Ruby".

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  1. gotta love the Kentucky Bourbon

  2. I’ve never had Bookers or Hooker’s House but Makers Mark is one of my go to along with Knob Creek.

  3. last night was the first time i paired a cigar with bourbon and i loved it! your palate is opened to frsh new flavor with every sip. it enhances the flovors of the cigar!

  4. Great stuff Jackson. I was lucky enough to sample some great bourbons at the Big Smoke last week. They really do pair well with certain cigars.

    • I hear the ones at your opening party disappeared pretty fast. Picked up a few new ones I haven’t seen before last weekend, when I was in Seattle. Stay tuned.

  5. Bookers is one of my favorite bourbons and a lot of people don’t realize that this bourbon is part of the Jim Beam line.

    • Jim Beam has a few small batch ones that people don’t normally think about. Also keep your eyes out for the new signature series from Jim Beam. I’ve heard really good things, but it’s not available in Canada yet.

      • Thanks for the tip on that. Also there is a Stagg Jr. from the George T. Stagg coming out which is uncut and unfiltered.

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