It has been a few months since our last whiskey and cigar pairing. With the last one we switched to rye whiskeys and thought we would continue down the same path this time. As a category rye has grown significantly just in the last few years, and most major distilleries offer one or more rye whiskeys in their portfolio these days. Even with such a wealth of rye whiskey to choose from we still stuck with basically the same lineup as last time.

The Cigar

Michael recently visited the Nat Sherman Townhouse in Manhattan. There he discovered the Nat Sherman TAA Panamericana, a medium to full-bodied cigar made in Nicaragua by Placencia for Nat Sherman. It is only available for sale in TAA, or Tobacconists Association of America, stores. Generally speaking, when you find a TAA version of a cigar you should buy it- they are always a cut above, and this Nat Sherman is no exception.

The wrapper is Ecudorian Sumatra, the binder is Nicaraguan, and the filler is Nicaraguan and Costa Rican. We were smoking the Gordo, a hefty 6×60.

Michael’s Notes – Rich tobacco, light barnyard and spice- pepper and cedar – chocolate, and caramel

Maggie’s Notes – tobacco barn, pepper spice, cedar, milk chocolate, caramel

The Whiskeys

Old Overholt Rye 80 Proof

Michael’s Notes – Smoke brings sweet caramel to the rye and rye makes the smoke less spicy

Maggie’s Notes – Smoke brings out caramel in the rye, rye brings out chocolate in the smoke

Russell’s Reserve Rye

Michael’s Notes – Smoke brings out spicy chocolate and rye brings out caramel and spice

Maggie’s Notes – Smoke brings out apples and heavy baking spice and rye brings out caramel in smoke

Rittenhouse Rye

Michael’s Notes – Spicy, both smoke and rye

Maggie’s Notes – Smoke turns rye into a spice bomb, rye flattens smoke

James Pepper 1776 Rye

Michael’s Notes – Whiskey brings out chocolate in smoke, smoke brings out candied apple with molasses in rye

Maggie’s Notes – Smoke brings out candied apple in rye, rye brings out chocolate in smoke

E.H. Taylor Bonded Rye

Michael’s Notes – Smoke makes the rye taste corny and rye makes the smoke earthy

Maggie’s Notes – Smoke brings out corny sweet notes in rye, rye makes smoke earthy

The Verdict

While most of these pairings were very nice, the one standout we both agreed on was the James Pepper. We both got candied apple notes but we differed in that Michael picked up molasses while I picked up chocolate notes. The Rittenhouse was a surprise because it just didn’t play well with this cigar at all. Overall this is why we recommend trying a flight of whiskeys with your cigar- a whiskey that pairs really well with one cigar might not pair well with the next.

Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl