I recently had the pleasure to sit down for a chat with Daniel Santiago, owner of the excellent Edinburgh shop Jeffrey St. Whisky and Tobacco, which sells an impressive collection of both whisky (especially, independent releases of single malt Scotch) and cigars. Without exaggerating, he’s probably one of the most knowledgeable people about cigars in Scotland, and possibly the entire United Kingdom. He also happens to know the whiskies that go perfectly with them.
One of Scotland’s top experts at keeping it classy with booze and tobacco. Photo: Jeffrey St. Whisky and Tobacco
- Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Reserva Especial and Tomintoul 16
Probably the lightest pairing here, and the most beginner friendly. Photo: Felipe Schrieberg
These Nicaraguan cigars are handmade and fermented in oak barrels for a few months, allowing the tobacco to pick up vanillin oils that give flavors of – you guessed it – vanilla. The Cuatro Cinco is a special release, celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Joya de Nicaragua company. The cigar is sweet and rich, with elements of chocolate. The smoothness of the cigar is perfectly complemented by the sweet, light and creamy Tomintoul.
- Te Amo World Selection Series Mexican Blend and Compass Box Peat Monster
A robust, monstrous combination. Photo: Felipe Schrieberg
A Mexican native, Daniel admits a little bias in selecting this Mexican cigar. A salty, earthy, and herbal creation from Te Amo (it means ‘I love you in Spanish), this medium strength cigar certainly has some punch to it. Pairing it with the excellent Peat Monster allows the vanilla and the meaty peat smoke of the whisky to soar through the cigar’s presence. Here, the cigar brings out the best of the whisky.
- Padron 1964 Anniversary Series and Glengoyne 18
This pairing promotes richness and complexity
“Nicaragua is definitely my favorite cigar country outside of Cuba,” says Daniel as he picks another Nicaraguan cigar. This is delicate, elegant, classy and very smooth, with a delicious finish. Paired with the incredibly fruity Glengoyne 18, a wonderful whisky aged mostly in first fill sherry casks, this pairing highlights the contrast between cigar and whisky, while allowing the complexity of both to shine through.
- Nub Maduro with Laphroaig Quarter Cask
The heaviest and punchiest pairing. Photo: Felipe Schrieberg
A blend of tobacco from many different countries, this cosmopolitan cigar is produced by the Oliva company out of Nicaragua. It’s a heavy, spicy and leathery animal, and definitely not for cigar newbies. Pairing it with the peaty, heavy, and extremely sweet Quarter Cask adds a little sugar to the cigar and provides an extra smoky punch.
- Romeo and Julieta Short Churchill with Bruichladdich Islay Barley
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks… Photo: Felipe Schrieberg
Cuban and Scottish star-crossed lovers. With Cuban cigars now able to enter the United States (albeit with serious restrictions), this big Romeo and Julieta cigar is a great choice if you can get your hands on it. (It should be easier to find in Europe). The Romeo and Julietas tend to be creamy, smooth and easy to smoke. It was also supposedly Winston Churchill’s favorite smoke. The short Churchill, named after him, is one of the best. Paired with the buttery and malty Bruichladdich Islay Barley, the light elegant class of both whisky and cigar shine through perfectly without getting in the way of each other. Best enjoyed while reciting a Shakespearean monolog.