WARFIGHTER GARRISON 7.62MM
Warfighter Cigars is combat veteran owned and based out of Nebraska. Their cigars are Dominican made and named for military calibers: .50 Cal, 5.56 MM and 7.62 MM. The 7.62 MM has a scent of old-school tobacco before lighting, almost like the classic machine-rolled cigars back in the day.
The Garrison 7.62 has a medium draw, with notes of citrus and banana – it’s mild and well-built, and smokes cool all the way to the nub. As you progress, it becomes more nutty and sweet. It’s a solid smoke with an even burn.
I paired the Garrison 7.62 MM with Miel de Tierra Reposado Mezcal, a match in flavor profile with orange, pecan and banana tasting notes. The usual smokiness of mezcal gives way to a sweet honey, reminding us of the mascot bee of Miel de Tierra. This is a unique and flavorful premium mezcal that delivers mild spice with a cool, honey sweetness on the tongue.
The two pair together incredibly well, this Nebraska-based Dominican cigar brand and a smooth, sweet Mexican mezcal. The two interplay together well, with a solid and tasty combination of tropical and nutty tastes between both the cigar and mezcal.
BALMORAL AÑEJO XO GRAN TORO
Balmoral Cigars are named for the famed Scottish castle and operates under the Drew Estate family, and only have two blends available: the Añejo XO and the Añejo 18. Both are Dominican-made with a blend of Dominican, Nicaraguan and Brazilian tobaccos that are “ultra-aged” (as Balmoral calls it), which translates to several years of age with the XO, and (of course) 18 years with the 18 blend.
With the incorporation of Nicaraguan and Brazilian tobaccos (including the wrapper), you’d think the Añejo XO could approach full-strength, but it’s a mild and pleasant smoke with sweet notes of toasted white bread with subtle cocoa and vanilla notes.
I paired the Balmoral Añejo XO Gran Toro with Pendleton Midnight Whisky, a mild Canadian blend that also has a touch of sweetness and traces of wheat and cinnamon. Aged for 6 years in American brandy barrels, Pendleton Midnight can be classified more as a “Canadian-style” whisky, as it’s distilled and aged by Oregon’s Hood River Distillery, a small distillery and brand portfolio that includes brands of whiskey, absinthe, vodkas and gins.
The mildness of the cigar and whisky play together well, as a milder whisky like this would vanish if you were smoking a spicebomb deodorant stick. Both of these, though, offer a balanced and mild pairing experience of cocoa, sugar and cinnamon spice.
KRISTOFF SAN ANDRES
From Illinois based Kristoff Cigars, the San Andres blend is a Mexican-wrapped Nicaraguan cigar with a chocolaty profile from foot to cap.
On light, the cigar delivers flavors of bitter dark chocolate that gives way to an apricot-chocolate flavor midway through the smoke. There are hints of granola throughout as well. It’s built with a pigtail cap and a semi-closed foot that gives it a very unique look with it’s dark, dark wrapper and bold golden band.
As this cigar has some bold richness to it, I grabbed a spirit with the same bold richness: Rogue’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey. Beermaker Rogue has been building their spirits library over the last several years, and their Oregon Single Malt is one of their flagships.
A light straw-colored liquid disguises a bold and spicy whiskey with traces of milk that delivers itself in the form of a clove crème brulee that’s totally unlike single malts of Scotland.
Both the San Andres and Rogue’s Single Malt have bold profiles, with interacting notes of chocolate, spice, vanilla and cream. The balance between the two is phenomenal and both deliver a quality pairing experience.
DREW ESTATE UNDERCROWN SUN GROWN
Drew Estate has both rocked the cigar industry with their new brands in recent years and enlisted the classic cigar gurus like Willy Herrera and impacted quality brands under their umbrella like Balmoral.
The Undercrown line has always intrigued me with the quality of the build and the flavorful smokes they offer. This blend, the Sungrown, is mild and pleasant, with a white-hot ash and a great build with a solidly-wrapped cap.
Flavor profiles are a light, limey citrus, and maple syrup, and while there aren’t massive varieties of flavors across the smoke, this is a wonderfully flavorful tobacco flavor profile, pure and simple. If you love the taste of tobacco without big spice, you’ll love this smoke.
I chose Papa’s Pilar 24 Rum to pair with the Drew Sungrown. Papa’s Pilar is an incredible rum for the price ($35), incredibly flavorful and bold with a syrupy cinnamon and clove profile. I drank mine on ice and it didn’t detract from the flavors at all, in fact, I felt it made the rum even more drinkable.
Saying Papa’s Pilar 24 is complex and tasty is an understatement. It’s been in contact with no less than 3 barrels: bourbon and port barrels using the high-temperature Solera aging, then finished in Spanish sherry casks. The flavor and price make this rum a must-buy for a cigar smoker.
Together with a quality tobacco flavor like the Undercrown Sungrown, Papa’s Pilar 24 offers outstanding terroir balance and pairing flavors.