Food and alcohol pairing is old news. We’ve spent the past few decades pairing wine, beer and any kind of spirit with whatever food we can. Which makes sense — why wouldn't someone want to partner a fine gin with a decadent morsel that compliments and brings out the best of the tipple?
Some brands and foodies are, however, taking this a step further. One of the most interesting is Rémy Martin, who I believe to be the first to offer guidance on pairing cognac with cigars.
The complementary tastes of cognac and cigars have a long tradition of appearing together, since fine Havana cigars first made an appearance centuries ago. And it makes sense that they would. Both are products of their terroir and are the result of selection, ageing and blending, with their unique tastes expressed through the fires of barrel toasting (in the case of cognac) or through the fires of combustion (in the case of cigars).
These parallels result in a suite of complimentary flavours — grilled, toasted, roasted and caramelized — through which the complex, fruity, floral and vanilla notes of cognac play with the earthy, woody, spicy and musky aromatic nuances of the cigar smoke.
As with all pairings, we assume that everyone will pick and taste slightly different notes depending on their palate, their preferences and their own unique memories and experiences. Much of the enjoyment is therefore in experimenting with tastes and combinations to find personal favourites.
Having said that it’s always good to start off with some recommendations. To get started, Rémy Martin recommends pairing its XO with cigars, because of the longer ageing it has in oak barrels (which also gives it its rich amber colour). It has rich notes of jasmine, juicy plum, candied orange and hazelnuts, which is carried through to the palate.
Pair with a Davidoff Special “R”, which tastes of walnuts, toffee and delicate spices; or Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robustos, which is reminiscent of orange peel, pears, flowers and soft leather.