Friday, July 27, 2012

Tobacco and Whiskey - Indulgent Pairing

For quite a few years, I've enjoyed my pipe while sitting on the front porch during temperate times of the year.  A few years back a good friend of mine piqued my interest in cigars and I was hooked.  Unfortunately, my pipe took a back seat for a spell until recently and I found that I missed the mellow times pipe smoking brings.

I've paired tobacco and whiskey together whether it be cigars or pipe on a regular basis and thoroughly enjoy the combination.  There's no right or wrong pairing when selecting a whiskey or tobacco, it's really whatever you happen to like, but it's also fun trying various combinations that may be better than others.  In the end, this double indulgence provides a time of relaxation, reflection and pure gratification.  The one bit of advice I do offer, and again, this comes down to preference, is paring a whiskey that is not cask strength when smoking a pipe.  The high ABV will impact the palate minimizing your ability to enjoy the subtle nature of the pipe tobacco.

For this post, I'll focus more on pipe tobacco.  There's a very broad selection of pipe tobacco and the topic would take far to long to articulate here.  There are numerous resources on the web if you're interested in researching.

Growing up, my Father smoked a pipe and I always remembered the sweet aroma that lingered in the room or car as he puffed away.  Unfortunately, my Mother was not a fan and my Father eventually gave up smoking and gave his pipes away.....a real shame that I don't have some of his pipes today.

When someone asks me to make recommendations on cigars and they are new to smoking, I recommend something mild that has a light wrapper and little to no Ligero as this particular leaf adds strength to a cigar.  For pipe tobacco, the selections are almost endless.  There are a number of tobacco's that have higher nicotine content which can provide the same physical effects as a Ligero cigar......a good sucker punch to the gut.

I won't recommend anything here but will point you to a good website that has a deep database of user reviews at

I have about 15 various selections and I recently picked up a couple more.  Last night I enjoyed one of the new acquisitions; Dunhill Navy Rolls.  While this is a Dunhill offering (Dunhill is a UK company), the blend comes from Orlik Tobacco Company in the Netherlands.  This tobacco is labeled as medium in strength and very mild in flavor.   Navy Rolls is a Virginia tobacco blended with Perique.  The tobacco itself was coin rolled, not loose, which required the added job of breaking apart the coin before loading the pipe.  Overall, an enjoyable smoke that exhibited a sweetness which comes from the Virginia tobacco and a spice on the finish that comes from the Perique.

With this smoke, I paired a low proof Bruichladdich 15 year 2nd Edition (I's an Islay and I said I didn't like those.....).  The 'Laddie exhibited a profile of summer fruits, very mild peat, and a nice viscosity promoting a creamy mouthfeel.  The whisky spent 15 years in used Bourbon Casks and then another 26 weeks in Sauternes Casks imparting an additional layer of sweetness; an exceptional dram.

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