[Updated 08 July 2019]
Cigars and Cognac – Cognac and cigars. For many, the two ride hand in hand, rather like lemon on seafood or cheese and wine.
But why is this so? After all, smoke a cigarette with Cognac and you’ll lessen your ability to taste the subtle flavors and appreciate the mélange of aromas on offer. But when it comes to enjoying a good Cognac with a quality cigar, it’s been believed for centuries that if you get the pairing right, it actually enhances your enjoyment of both.
And hey, if it was good enough for Winston Churchill (who used to pair Hine Cognac with Cigars known as Romeo y Julieta, then it’s definitely good enough for us.
What comes first, the Cognac or the cigar?
Now there’s a question! The thing is, those whose first love is Cognac will say that this is the most important partner in the equation. And vice versa with the cigars. But in truth, when we’re talking about pairing, then both have an equal bearing. And, of course, each person’s view is subjective – and this is what makes experimentation so damned enjoyable…
A sensory journey
The thing is, when we try a good Cognac or select a cigar, it’s the aromas and taste that make for a quality experience. You might be looking for a Cognac to accompany a mild cigar; in which case your choice would probably be different to when you’re enjoying one that’s more full-bodied.
What this boils down to is that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ combination to pairing. But for anyone looking for a good starting point, former CEO of Courvoisier, Jean-Marc Olivier, believes that Courvoisier Napoléon Cognac is a great all-rounder to be enjoyed with a variety of cigars. And who are we to argue?
Key requirements for a great cigar Cognac
The crucial element when selecting such a Cognac is age – and in general, the older the better. Extended aging allows the rancio to develop – something that’s crucial for a great Cognac-cigar pairing. The following Cognacs are specifically designed to go fantastically with cigars:
The clever guys at Park came up with this delight created from a blend of 60% Grande Champagne and 40% Petite Champagne. We have to say, rather scrumptious and with more than enough character to pair with a quality cigar
3. Frapin – Cigar Blend Vieille Grande Champagne Cognac
This XO quality bottling and Grande Champagne Cognac is a single estate reserve – and certainly satisfies the need for a rancio with a cigar. Discover Frapin’s Cigar Blend.
In fact, when you’re looking for a Cognac and cigars pairing, don’t forget to check out the tiny artisan houses such as:
This one is certainly one to consider. Comprised of a blend of eaux-de-vies that hail from the premier growing region – Grande Champagne – each component has an average age of 30 years.
It’s all about experimentation
The whole ethos about pairing a cigar with a Cognac is that each complements the other. While there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choice, most people concur that age (of the Cognac) is the most important factor to take into consideration. Then, determine the type of cigar.
For lighter cigars, many pair this with a balanced, nutty, lighter Cognac, such as:
Despite its name, this is in fact not a “Cognac from Cuba”. Instead, it’s perfectly crafted to go with a Cuban cigar. The quality of this Cognac is immeasurable – it’s made with a blend of Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie aged between 40 and 50 years.
For medium cigars, try a Cognac that’s heavier on spicy notes, such as this one:
And for a true full bodied cigar, look for one with earthy, leathery qualities – like this beauty from Deau. It’s a well aged Cognac with warm and spicy aromas.
Whatever your choice, enjoy the journey. Neither a good Cognac nor a good cigar is ever meant to be rushed. Today’s crazy 21st-century lifestyle doesn’t often allow time for such a luxury. So when that time does occur, be sure to take full advantage.
And then… What about flavored cigars and Cognac?
Of course, as manufacturers seek out ever more inventive methods of grabbing their share of the market, innovative new options appear on a regular basis. Gone are the days when the only choices one had to make were that of the brand of cigar and which Cognac was best so sip with it. Because now, in 2019, the rise of the flavored cigar is becoming more and more popular.
And it seems that there’s no flavoring that’s immune to a cigar maker infusing into their products. We’ve come across such delights as cherry, vanilla, rum, whisky, amaretto, peach, Cognac (of course) and even chocolate! Although we have to say, the latter sounds—to us—pretty revolting.
But figures show that these cigars are becoming more and more sought after. A key market player in the cigar market is releasing more and more flavors as demand rises. However, this is not true in all areas of the world. The US and Australia, in particular, have strict laws governing the flavoring of such products with candy and/or novelty products. But in areas such as China and Asia, such flavored cigars are a big hit in the gifting culture.
So can you really pair a flavored cigar with a Cognac? Well, of course, anything is possible. And once again the key would be to pair like with like. So if you’re going for a fruity flavored cigar, perhaps combining it with an intensely fruity flavored Cognac would work? Or (shudders involuntarily) a chocolate cigar with a superbly aged blend that has good notes of rancio and its own cocoa tones?
These flavored cigars will certainly be an acquired taste. But who are we to say when and how to enjoy a Cognac? After all, not that long ago it was frowned upon to sip on a glass of “brown” in any other way but neat. Now we have Cognac cocktails, Cognac on ice, Cognac from the freezer—in fact, Cognac any which way you like.
So why not with a flavored cigar too…?