By Benjamin Winokur

Gin is perhaps one of the most polarizing spirits that’s out there. Few people I meet identify themselves as being “on-the-fence” with gin. Rather, it’s a spirit people often either love or hate. Today, I’m a lover.

First off, pairing a cigar with gin can be a bit arduous. The Juniper, citrus and floral aromas from the spirit, can clash with the flavors of many full-bodied cigars. Alternatively, a cigar can be overwhelming and not allow the full enjoyment of this delicate spirit. I spent quite a bit of time pouring over my cigar review notes before coming up with a select few, which I believe are going to pair exceptionally well with most gin based cocktails. The cigar I smoked for this pairing is from the renowned Graycliff Family of cigars, the Graycliff Platinum PGX. My drink of choice for this pairing is the Tanqueray Gin and Tonic.

Tanqueray is a very refined gin offering a crisp finish with rounded flavors. Mixing it with the tonic and lime provides a cocktail that is very refreshing with notes of juniper, citrus, and even a hint of cedar. These flavors mix exceptionally well with the bouquet of the cigar, which presents notes of tobacco and cedar with a subtle pepper on the pre-light draw.

The Graycliff Platinum is a beautiful light brown color, featuring a dusting of natural oils, and with the exception of two distinct veins, is buttery smooth for the length of the vitola.

Upon lighting, the cigar starts with cedar and a light earthiness on the front of the palate, followed by a long lasting blast of red pepper and finished with further notes of cedar and tobacco.

While smoking the Graycliff Platinum you will notice that it is not an overly complex cigar, but rather quite linear, which lends itself well to the juniper and citrus of the cocktail.

After moving through the first third of the Graycliff Platinum, the pepper that was once omnipresent has taken a back seat to a refined profile of cedar and tobacco. The gin and tonic is very refreshing along with the long finish on the cigar and works well at clearing the palate for the next puff.

Tanqueray Gin and Tonic

Tanqueray Gin and Tonic. Photo by Tanqueray

Throughout the hour and half spent enjoying this cocktail and cigar combo, I was consistently impressed by how well the citrus and pine from the cocktail delicately infused themselves with the flavors of the cigar. It rounded out a flavor profile that began with cedar, tobacco, and earth and then is transformed by the notes of citrus. Beware though—too much gin and the cocktail will become overbearing on the intricacies of this cigar—pairing with a slightly stronger cigar with the same notes would pair exceptionally well with a stronger cocktail such as a martini.

When pairing a cigar to a spirit, here are a couple rules of thumb:

Try to match the strength of the cigar to the strength of the spirit.

Combine complementary flavor profiles to maximize enjoyment. For example, oak notes in a bourbon will match well with the similar flavors in a cigar. Another example would be a scotch with hints of vanilla going well with a cigar presenting notes of cocoa.

Here are some other cigars that I recommend you try with your gin cocktails:

  • Macanudo Café
  • Ashton VSG
  • Fuente Fuente Opus X

Gin will pair well with many cigars that offer a similar flavor profile. Keep this in mind the next time you’re looking to create the perfect gin or gin cocktail pairing!

Tanqueray and Tonic

  • Handful of ice cubes
  • 1 part tanqueray gin
  • 2 parts tonic water
  • 2 lime wedges (squeezed)
  • Garnished with lime

Graycliff Platinum PGX

  • Size: 6 x 52
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Binder: Honduran
  • Strength: Medium-Full