Looking for the perfect smoke to go with your sip? The first step is to make sure your cigar and your spirit of choice match in strength and body. This a critical decision because regardless of how complementary the flavors may be, if one is much stronger, it will overwhelm and mask the flavors of the other. Beginners especially will want to stay in the 80-90 proof range, regardless of the strength of the cigar chosen. Go above that and you’ll almost certainly overpower your cigar. Next, match the body of the beverage to the body of the cigar. A light-bodied cigar will go well with some white wines, young reds or blended scotches. Medium-bodied smokes such as the Ghurka Cellar Reserve 21 are great with Lowland whiskies, Irish whiskeys, rums, bourbons, and ryes as well as cocktails such as Mojitos and Colombian Espressos. Full-bodied smokes are a perfect match with heavier Highland single malts. Vodka is the exception. It generally has a neutral flavor as it’s made from grapes, grain and/or potatoes. It pairs best with a mild-to-medium bodied cigar that is smooth and complex such as the Gurkha Royal Challenge. Want to become a connoisseur? Take out your favorite cigar. After the first quarter of the cigar, it’s time to start pairing! The process goes like this: Take a puff of the cigar and roll the smoke around in your mouth. Take a sip of the first spirit in your flight and roll that all around in your mouth as well. How does the smoke match the flavor? Take another sip and roll it all around in your mouth, followed by another puff of the cigar. In what ways does the flavor profile complement that of the cigar? Let your palate guide you.
Smoking a cigar (and looking suave doing it) is an art so we went to Gurkha Cigar Founder Kaizad Hansotia for advice. “The secret lies in learning how to toast your cigar correctly,” he says. “I recommend a torch over a match or a lighter, but everyone has his or her preference. Hold the cigar and torch it in a circle until the foot is evenly darkened or black. Then, put the cigar in your mouth and rotate it with the flame about two inches below the cigar as you puff. Once the cigar gets a good flame, take it out of your mouth and blow it out. You are ready to enjoy your cigar.” A word to the wise: Don’t ever inhale your cigar. If you do, or you choose a cigar that is too strong and feel dizzy, your blood sugar has dropped. Set the alcohol aside and drink a sugary drink quickly.