Whisky Magazine Issue 31
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It's a marriage made in heaven – whisky and cigars. But what are the best combinations? We brought a group of experts together in Cuba to find out. Damian Riley-Smith reports
Extending the boundaries of whisky enjoyment has always been one of the Whisky Magazine crusades. For those who enjoy them, there is no finer accompaniment to whisky than the cigar. And the finest cigar in the world comes from the beautiful and intoxicating island of Cuba.
The timing of the event coincided with the annual Cigar Festival, (the V Festival del Habano), and from 24th to 26th February, the first-ever Whisky & Cigar Challenge was held in Havana, in association with Habanos S.A.
Whisky Magazine set out to discover the finest combination of these two great products. What seemed a simple concept evolved into a complex, international logistical challenge.
The 414 bottles that had to be shipped to Havana, the judges from all over the world gathered together and the arm-ache endured from pouring over 8,000 glasses of whisky over five days was all co-ordinated with the assistance of Ranald Macdonald of London restaurant group Boisdale.
The Whisky & Cigar Challenge began with the ‘Whisky Bar' at the opening evening of the Cigar Festival, a spectacular Caribbean cabaret held in the open-air Club Tropicana, with a captive audience of 750 potential whisky consumers. And the week ended with the magnificent cigar gala dinner, where the great and good from the world over assembled to enjoy the finest Havana experience.
The evening was rounded off with a spectacular auction, led by Simon Chase from UK cigar importers Hunters & Frankau, with items ranging from a colossal hu...