By: Benjamin Winokur
The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that has stirred the hearts of spirits connoisseurs throughout the ages. A classic such as this is deserving of a cigar of equal caliber. Enter the Liga Privada #9 by Drew Estate.
The Liga Privada #9 is a special cigar, aptly named as it was the ninth blend of a series of cigars created specifically for the personal enjoyment of Drew Estate President Steve Saka. The #9 features a dark and beautiful oscuro wrapper leaf. Crafted from tobaccos coming from seven different farms, it’s a satisfying medium to full bodied blend that establishes itself with a delicious aroma and continues delivering puff after enjoyable puff.
The wrapper is hand fermented for eighteen months before being carefully applied to the well-aged tobaccos, and is then laid to rest for over a year, before making its way to one the select tobacconists who are authorized to sell this beauty. The price point is around $13-$18 depending on where you’re located, and it’s worth every penny.
The old fashioned selected for this pairing is a personal favorite from my own bar; utilizing a single malt scotch rather than a scotch blend or bourbon, provides a unique flavor profile that exemplifies that of the Liga Privada #9. A single malt scotch offers the ability to focus the flavors of the scotch to match those of a cigar, and in this case the scotch is The Macallan 12 Year Old.
The Macallan 12 year old is an Islay highland scotch which offers a nose of vanilla with hints of fruit and citrus, a smooth palate of fruit and sherry balanced by wood, smoke and spice. The finish is a sweet toffee, more fruit and a light smoky spiciness that lingers on the tongue. It’s aged in sherry casks which infuse the delicate fruit flavors and aromas that are present in the spirit.
Removing the Liga Privada from my humidor was both the high and low point of my day – highlight because I was going to smoke it, low point? It was the last one. With a light squeeze I rolled the cigar through my fingers, testing the fill – perfect. No soft spots, and not too hard, just right. The 6 X 52 Belicoso Oscuro is dark, oily, toothy, and ready for me to dive in.
With a straight cut, I removed the triple cap and tested the pre-light draw. It was slightly tight but unrestricted and had a taste reminiscent of hay and cocoa. Using matches I lit the Liga Privada #9 and was in business. Immediately I tasted a light sweetness on the tongue, brought on by the cocoa, alongside a fruit note that lasted a moment, as I continued to savor the thick creamy smoke. As I smoked through the first third of the cigar the experience was consistently amazing; cocoa, a note of fruit, creaminess and a hint of spice.
The cigar then did something I didn’t think would be possible in the second third – it got even better. The complexity was unparalleled and the flavors became more robust, as I continued to puff away I began to realize how well the cocktail was pairing with the cigar.
As I sipped my old fashioned I noticed how the vanilla and fruit perfectly complimented the cocoa, fruit, and cream of the cigar. As the cigar hit its sweet spot, vast amounts of creamy smoke budded with the character of cocoa, coffee, fruit and a hint of spice fused with the sweet toffee finish. The pairing offered what I always look for, a perfect complement between the cigar and the drink.
Through the final third of the cigar it remained fantastic. The flavor deviated a bit towards the end, as the fruit and sweetness dissipated, and gave way to a little more spice that complemented the always present creaminess. I smoked the cigar down to the nub and couldn’t help but grin at my pile of ash in the ashtray. As I took a final sip of the cocktail, I reveled at how the fruit, vanilla, and woody finish of the scotch made an excellent cigar even better.
In a rocks glass add the sugar cube, bitters, water, cherry and orange and muddle into a paste. Add the Scotch and fill the glass with ice. Garnish with an orange twist and serve.