Pairing Cigars & Alcohol & Jack Daniels

Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. Mombacho used to have the Diplomatico series. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce whisky, gin, rum, vodka and liquors.

Jack Daniels

Jack Daniels Old #7 is probably the best-known bourbon in the world. And bourbon is whisk(e)y that’s made in the USA, aged in new charred-oak barrels and the mash must consist of minimum 51% corn. So, the question if Jack Daniels is a whiskey or a bourbon is easily answered: it is both. Whisky snobs often look down on Jack Daniels Old #7, but I don’t think it’s fair. Yes, it is a mass-produced product and yes, some of the smaller distilleries bring out better whiskies but that doesn’t make Jack Daniels Old #7 a bad products. It’s made for the masses, with a price that’s affordable for the masses and it’s a tasty product. I can name many whiskies and bourbons that are undrinkable while Jack Daniels Old #7 is an easy going, affordable, steady and reliable bourbon.

Neat

For all the whisky articles I write for Cigar Inspector I try the whisky neat in both a Glencairn glass and in a highball aka old-fashioned aka rocks glass. That’s because the glassware can make a huge difference both in nose as in flavour.

In the Glencairn glass the nose is sweet with some spices and smoke. There isn’t much of an alcohol aroma. The flavours are exactly what you can expect from Jack Daniels, banana and caramel with vanilla, spices and a little bit of an alcohol burn. This drink has some character but is not abrasive at all. This is a pretty forgiving whisky, any medium to full bodied cigar will do. I won’t take something too sweet but the JD Old #7 is smooth enough to play well with others and characterful enough to stand up to a stronger smoke.

In a highball glass the alcohol is strong, with some apple, sweetness and a hint of smoke. The burn of the alcohol is a little stronger with more spices yet the sweetness is still there. Caramel with banana and a hint of vanilla and nits. There is a bit of salty liquorice in the aftertaste. What I said when I tried Jack Daniels Old #7 in Glencairn glass goes for the highball glass too. Any medium to full bodied cigar will do.

Old Fashioned

The quincentennial whisky cocktail, and my personal benchmark for any new whisky I try. Easy to make, and always tasty. On the nose it’s the orange peel that’s taking the centre stage although there is a hint of vanilla. The orange is also noticeable in the taste, together with the sweetness from the sugar and a distinct spice of the bitters as well as the banana and vanilla from the Jack Daniels. This bourbon makes a decent Old Fashioned but not an outstanding Old Fashioned, although that cannot be expected from the Old #7 anyway. The burn of the alcohol disappears when the ice dilutes, but it also takes away a bit of the character of the drink. A cigar with lots of wood in the profile would work with this, but something with Kentucky Fire Cured tobacco might be a good pairing as well. The Drew Estate Kentucky Fire Cured is an obvious choice then, but it might also be a good opportunity to try something not so obvious. How about pairing this cocktail with a Toscano Antico or Toscano Clasico?

and now for the Old-Fashioned recipe:

1 sugar cube
3 dashes of bitters

2 oz or 60 ml of Jack Daniels Old #7
orange peel
Put the sugar cube in a highball glass, add the dashes of bitters and a splash of water. Muddle the sugar cube. Add ice and the whisky. Stir for 10 seconds, then add an orange peel.

Lynchburg Lemonade

Named after the town where Jack Daniels is distilled. But when Jack Daniels posted the recipe on its website, the barkeeper that invented the cocktail, Tony Mason, sued Jack Daniels claiming $13 million. The judge ruled in his favour but didn’t award him a dime. Mason appealed and lost the appeal. That only makes this drink more interesting in my humble opinion. On the nose there is just a lot of lemon, due to the lemon juice and the lemon wedge garnish. The lemon-lime soda, I used Sprite, is dominant but it’s not tangy. There is a nice sweetness with a little bit of an orange taste. In the beginning there is no trace of alcohol but the alcohol appears later. This is a nice summer drink, as can be expected with a lemonade. Just like when drinking Jack Daniels Old #7 neat, you can pair almost any cigar with this although I would steer away from sweetened cigars.

And now for the Lynchburg Lemonade recipe:
1 ounce or 30ml of Jack Daniels Old #7
1 ounce or 30ml of Cointreau
½ ounce or 15ml of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ ounce or 15ml of simple syrup
4 ounces or 120ml of lemon-lime soda (I used Sprite)
Garnish: lemon wedge
Add all the ingredients except the Sprite into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well-chilled. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and add the soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Jack & Coke

If a cocktail has 2 brand names in it, it has to mean something right? And it does, the people behind Whisky Tribe did a YouTube video where they compared several bourbons and whiskies with Coca Cola, and the winner clearly was good old Jack Daniels with the Old #7. So how can I write an article about Jack Daniels Cocktails without including this classic?

On the nose it’s mostly Coca Cola although there is a little alcohol hint. And the flavours of both drinks are perfect for each other. The caramel sweetness of the Coca Cola and the fizz go hand in hand with the wood of the whisky, while the vanilla notes that are in both drinks tie everything together as a total sum that is bigger than the two individual components. Just light your favourite cigar with this and you’ll have a good time. I enjoyed this with a Diesel Unholy Cocktail, a wallet-friendly cigars that A.J. Fernandez makes for Maier & Dutch, a subsidiary of STG.

And now for the Jack & Coke recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Jack Daniels Old #7
Coca Cola
Fill a Collins glass ¾ with ice, pour the Jack Daniels Old #7 over the ice and top up with an ice-cold Coca Cola.

Inspector X

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