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Cigar Pairings

Cigars and Japanese Whisky Pairings

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

A precise culture is behind the great Japanese whisky we drink today. Variation in the stills, pristine waters, and a craving for complexity converge in a whisky-making process which has evolved well beyond an imported knowledge from Scotland. Large producers like Suntory and Nikka pride themselves on creating dozens of styles of whisky under one roof. Their philosophy considers whisky-making an art, and the soft, floral, and fragrant character Japanese whisky is known for enamors critics and whisky lovers for good reason. Here are five impeccable Japanese whisky and cigar pairings to explore when you’re fixated on whisky from the Far East.


Yamazaki 18 Year Single Malt & Ashton ESG

The highest hallmarks of fine tobacco and vintage whisky converge when Yamazaki 18 Year is paired with Ashton ESG. The oldest distillery in Japan creates Yamazaki 18 Year by aging 80% of the whisky in sherry butts while the remaining 20% spends years in American and Japanese (Mizunara) oak barrels. A dense nose of strawberry, marmalade, raisin, and truffle precedes a decadent palate of blackberry jam, toffee, honey, tobacco, and pepper. Its long and luscious finish fits in perfect with tasting notes of cedar, graham cracker, and black pepper in Ashton ESG. Special reserves of well-aged Dominican tobaccos make up a 94-rated masterpiece blended by Carlito Fuente.

Strength: Medium-Full
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Dominican

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Akashi Single Malt & Arturo Fuente Hemingway

A smooth and oaky profile of wood, vanilla, smoke, leather, and cereal layers the palate with a touch of dried fruit and white pepper in Akashi Single Malt. This small-batch whisky is named for the fishing village a stone’s throw from the distillery in Osaka Bay. Eigashima Shuzo, the family-run distillery where Akashi is made, relies on many types of barrels, including Pedro Ximenez, American oak, Oloroso sherry, bourbon, brandy, and wine, to create its whisky. The iconic taste of Arturo Fuente Hemingway imparts lovely notes of cedar, coffee bean, baking spices, and molasses that complement many nuances in Akashi. A toothy Cameroon wrapper embraces the finest Dominican tobaccos in a series of celebrated Figurados.

Strength: Medium
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Cameroon

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Hakushu 12 Year & Padrón 1964 Anniversary

Hakushu 12 Year hails from the mountains of Southern Japan to deliver a crisp and lively profile with sweet, herbal qualities. The nose reveals basil, pine needle, and green apple, while the palate freshens with kiwi, mint, and pear before a finish of green tea and smoke. Mix Hakushu with Padrón 1964 Anniversary, an all-Nicaraguan blend, rated highly for its flavors of cocoa, cedar, cayenne, and spice. This illustrious cigar comes in many sharp box-pressed shapes you can savor in a lush pairing with just the right amount of sweetness in the whisky.

Strength: Medium-Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan

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Mars Shinshu Iwai Tradition & La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor

Japan’s Mars distillery stands out for Mars Iwai Tradition, an affordable and high-quality edition that serves as an excellent introduction to the nation’s whisky. A slightly herbal nose emanates while notes of honey, raisin, orange peel, cinnamon, toffee, and brown sugar meld on the palate. La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor blends in well with its 95-rated profile of dark cocoa, espresso, nuts, and cracked black pepper before a sweet finish leaves a touch of black cherry behind. Push the smoke through your nose for more zest.

Strength: Medium-Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: San Andres

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Nikka From The Barrel & My Father La Opulencia

Both single malt and grain whisky is married in a huge variety of casks to create the award-winning profile of Nikka From The Barrel. The glass exudes floral aromas of fresh fruit and oak, while a full-bodied palate of spice, caramel, and toffee warms the taste buds with a long and succulent finish. My Father La Opulencia is drawn from a San Andrés Oscuro wrapper and a hearty blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos in a peppery profile of wood and espresso. A nice mix of dark and creamy flavors harmonizes between La Opulencia and Nikka.

Strength: Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: San Andres Oscuro

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