When Irish whiskey is smoking

James Leavey is an important name in the media industry. As a freelance writer and journalist, his famous comical style has been found in the pages of over 100 publications, including the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and the Sunday Express. He has also appeared on BBC Radio Four, BBC 2 and Channel 4.

He knows his stuff when it comes to whiskey, having contributed to Whisky Magazine and SquareMeal. James has also featured in several BBC documentaries on the subject of smoking, so he’s the ideal candidate to guest blog about pairing THE WILD GEESE® Single Malt with the perfect cigar. Over to you James!

First, you have to remember THE WILD GEESE® Single Malt is an award-winning, non-aged Irish whiskey. It has a slightly closed nose that is more than made up for by its smooth creamy full flavour and slightly peppery/gingery after-taste. There’s lots going on to keep your taste buds and nose occupied for a while.

When I first tried it, I was very pleasantly amazed. An Irish single malt of remarkable quality!

Jaysus! Thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

Like the best things in life such as a beautiful vivacious Irish colleen who has suddenly decided to Help The Aged Writer With a Shag (in your dreams, Mr Leavey), it creeps up on you.

If you feel able to accept that remarkably kind invitation to play hide the sausage, may I suggest you don’t go overpowering the lady or this fine Irish whiskey with a full-on Havana or non-Cuban cigar.

Gently does it is the name of the game.

Especially if you, like me, are swiftly heading towards 70 in a feckin’ hand-cart.

The most important thing is to smoke a premium hand-rolled cigar whose character will be enhanced by a flirtation with this fine Single Malt. So throw those cigarettes and cheap cheroots in the bin where they belong, why don’t you, along with that cheap bathtub hooch. You should have done that years ago.

Life’s too short to drink crap booze and puff on additive-ridden third-rate tobacco. Never pour high from a low bottle. Smoke less, smoke better.

Now, back to the basics: a full-bodied cigar would, in my opinion, overwhelm this Single Malt. Equally, you don’t want to smoke a light tube of premium tobacco which could not stand up to this drop of Irish heaven.

That said, a light Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2 – one of my favourite cigars – would cope well with that first date, if you didn’t push it. But then I’d smoke an Epi 2 with a cup of builder’s tea from Bewley’s.

Hmm…so what would work best with the THE WILD GEESE® Single Malt, cigar-wise?

A Rafael Gonzales Lonsdale with its slightly honeyed after-taste would be an interesting pairing. As would a medium-bodied Romeo y Julieta, light to medium H. Upmann, Petit Punch (another medium Havana) or maybe a Punch Punch, Trinidad Reyes and light to medium El Rey del Mondo. And then there’s the La Gloria Cubana with its nicely-balanced nuances of taste and aroma.

The Single Malt would also go very well with many of the Dominican brands, especially Davidoff’s superb Avo Ulvezian, Zino Platinum, The Griffin’s, some of the Dunhill range, and the Arturo Fuente brand (especially the Grand Reserva No.2).

I could go on and on, drawing on fond memories of the lovely cigars I have tasted over the years, and the fact that I have a glass of the Single Malt from which I’m sipping while writing this.

The truth is, you need to talk to your favourite cigar supplier – the one who has the knowledge of what is currently smoking well (if in doubt, send smoke signals to C.Gars Ltd, The Decent Cigar Emporium in Dublin, or Davidoff of London, for their knowledge of fine cigars and drink is second to none).

You may question my gut feeling that THE WILD GEESE® Single Malt would be best paired with an exceptional light, or light to medium cigar. But don’t take my word for it. See what happens when you inhale a full-bodied smoke such as a Bolivar or, one of my favourites, a Partagas Serie D No.4, after a sip of this Irish whiskey. You may like it.

If the worst comes to the worst, you’ve still got the rest of the bottle to finish. And you can smoke your favourite cigars whenever you wish – at home, anyway – with or without the partnering of a great whiskey.

Merry Christmas.

You can visit James Leavey’s blog here.