Basically, of course, any fine single malt goes with any fine cigar—but that hasn't stopped whisky makers from trying to make a perfect spirit to smoke with. In my view, the best on the market is the newly released Dalmore Cigar Malt ($30), which comes from a somewhat isolated distillery located in the Scottish Highlands to the north of the city of Inverness.
What makes a single malt particularly suitable for a cigar?In order to match the intensity of a stogie, the whisky needs a robust and powerful start—and by using eight uniquely shaped pot stills during distillation, Dalmore is able to produce a spirit with strong character. But more important, the whisky must finish sweet, so that when the drinker takes a puff of his cigar, the sweetness of the spirit's finish balances the stout and bitter pull of the smoke. In the Cigar Malt, this is done by using a mix of oloroso sherry and white-oak casks during maturation to create a fruity citrus flavor. Richard Paterson, a third-generation master blender at Dalmore, calls this quality the "essence" of his malt—its bitter beginning pursued by a sweet ending of rich orange notes and dark-chocolate flavors—making it an excellent complement to a cigar.
The golden mahogany Dalmore Cigar Malt is a blend of various whiskies aged between ten and twenty years. (Since they're all from the same distillery, it still qualifies as a single malt.) Pair it with a smoke of similar maturity and quality.