IMPETUS FOR AN EXPERIMENT
For oncce, it was a not-so-hot day. I decided to checkout the grand reopening of one of my favorite liquor stores, Winetree. After consuming a few samples of whiskey and beer, I decided to check out the cigar tent out front hosted by Cigar! Cigar!. They had 4 different cigars for sale. I asked the gentleman who was in charge to walk me through the flavor profiles. After he did just that I asked him what kind of deal he was running. It was buy 2 get 1 free. So, I walked away…with three cigars.
When I got home I decided to take one of those cigars and see how it paired with three different bourbons. I had never done an official bourbon and cigar tasting. I like cigars. I like bourbon. I like smoking cigars while drinking bourbon. So, I decided it was high time I did a pairing. I started by smoking a little of the cigar to get a base taste. I had already tried the three bourbons and therefore had a base knowledge of their profiles. The following is the lineup and results:
Cigar: Last Call by A.J. Fernández; 4 1/2 x 48 vitola; Ecuadorian habano rosado wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers. Interesting note: This was originally a cigar Abdel Fernández, owner of A.J. Fernández, would give out to guests during the fourth quarter of NFL games last season. Hence the name: Last Call. It got so popular he decided to release it to the general public.
Bourbons: 1) Maker’s Mark Private Select Big Red Liquors Selection; 55.75% ABV; 4 Baked American Pure 2 and 4 Maker’s 46 staves. 2) Four Roses Single Barrel Barrel Strength 2015 Bourbon Affair Selection; OBSQ; 54.9% ABV. 3) Stagg Jr. Batch #5; 64.85% ABV.
Glassware: Bourbon Hunter Glencairn Glass
1st Pairing: Last Call & Maker’s Mark Private Select
Determination: The Last Call is a thick, earthy, and spicy cigar. It was recommended to pair with coffee or whiskey. The Maker’s enhanced the richness of the Last Call to a level that it became overly bitter. Whereas, the Last Call did very little for the Maker’s and in the end overpowered what this fairly complex and delicious bourbon has to offer on its own.
Rating: Worst Pairing. Would Not Try Again
2nd Pairing: Last Call & Four Roses Single Barrel Barrel Strength
Determination: The Last Call mellowed out with this pairing. It took on some sweeter and smoother tobacco notes hidden under it’s spicy overtones. The Four Roses, already a complex dram, took on even sweeter, candy notes at the same time having the oak and spice notes rounded out.
Rating: A Close, Close Second. Would Try Again.
3rd Pairing: Last Call & Stagg Jr. Batch #5
Determination: Once again, the Last Call received a good treatment from this pairing. Sweet and creamy this time. The Stagg Jr. became smooth and creamy as well. All the hints of this being a bourbon pushing 130 proof disappeared. The cherry cola and chocolate notes melded into a creamy dark chocolate spice-infused cherry cream. The cigar and bourbon melded into one delicious taste. Spectacular!
Rating: Winner! Would Pair Regularly.
I am glad the first hour of my Friday evening was spent in this fashion. I learned a lot about the intricacies of a bourbon and cigar pairing. I know in this case a spicy cigar can overpower a wheated bourbon even at cask strength. But, most importantly, I found a pairing I can go back to again and again. If you get a chance to pair a pour of Stagg Jr. with a Last Call cigar don’t pass it up. I know I didn’t. In fact, I had an extra pour while I finished the last bit of this fine cigar.
Until next time…Cheers!