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January/February Featured Cigar & Spirits Pairings

January/February Featured Cigar & Spirits Pairings

6 ½ x 52 Figurado
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder, Filler: Nicaraguan
Strength: Medium/Full
MSRP (cigar): $15
MSRP (mezcal): $55

Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Figurado
Kimo Sabe Añejo Mezcal

Oliva has been highly lauded over many years for the quality, consistency and craftsmanship of their cigars. Oliva is a perennially award-winning brand.

Founded by the Oliva family from Cuba in 1886, Gilberto Oliva carried on the family tradition and relocated to Nicaragua after the communist takeover of Cuba. The Melanio series is named for Gilberto’s grandfather and the original founder of the Oliva line, Melanio Oliva. The Melanio cigar has become an industry benchmark since its introduction just a few years ago.

This Oliva is a beautifully rolled and box-pressed cigar that features a highly appealing visual presentation. The pre-light scents of this figurado are chocolate and mild cedar, and on light, the San Andrés wrapper gives off a chocolate truffle aroma and flavor, with hints of nuts and a mild spice throughout.

I paired the Oliva with Kimo Sabe Añejo Mezcal, a beautifully fresh-tasting sweet mezcal with tasting notes of vanilla and mango, plus some oaky bite on the finish. Kimo Sabe is certainly one of the smoothest mezcals I’ve experienced.

The chocolate sweetness of the Oliva married with the tropical overtones of Kimo Sabe created an excellent pairing that together reminds me of delightful chocolate-covered pineapple.

Highclere Castle Senetjer
Highclere Castle Barrel Aged Gin

The Highclere Castle line from Foundation Cigar Co. has released a limited premium cigar to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, and they have a gin to pair with it as well. Lord Carnarvon left Highclere Castle 100 years ago for Egypt and was one of the discoverers of the ancient tomb. Both the cigar and the gin are heavily embellished with Egyptian iconography and will certainly turn heads when the opportunity to enjoy this pairing comes.

The Highclere Castle Senetjer (meaning “incense”) is a beautifully rolled cigar presented in a “tomb” box of 12 with a figurado format. The wrapper has scents of herb and mint on pre-light. It’s spicy and sweet with an abundance of smoke output after being fired up. Spice and herbs remain prevalent, and the cigar remains at medium-strength throughout.

Highclere Castle’s Barrel Aged Gin was released in limited supply as well, offered through their website at $100 per bottle. This spirit is aged in Armagnac, Scotch and American Whiskey casks. It has a uniquely hay color in the glass. Highclere has a light citrus nose, though familiar pine scents follow. Sipping reveals lemon and orange, followed by a sweet wood flavor (likely the Armagnac casks). The aging of this gin has led to a drink that retains its gin-ness, but has levels of character through the casks for a delicious drink served neat with your cigar.

This pairing is royally enjoyable. Together, they have a fresh balance of herbs, citrus and sweet wood. The Highclere concept creates a wonderful pairing session.

Size: 6 ¾ x 52 Figurado
Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder: Brazilian
Filler: Three years/undisclosed
Strength: Medium
MSRP (cigar): $33
MSRP (gin): $100

Size: 5 x 50 Robusto
Wrapper, Binder, Filler: Honduran
Strength: Medium
MSRP (cigar): $12
MSRP (Scotch): $130 

Aladino Corojo Reserva
Balvenie 16 French Oak

If you’re unfamiliar, the Aladino lines are part of the JRE Tobacco Co. portfolio, run by Julio Eiroa and his son Justo. Their cigars feature the Corojo leaf, and the Eiroa family is the premier grower of these plants in Honduras. While often a very earthy tobacco leaf, the Eiroa family has managed to grow and blend a very balanced and delicious Honduran puro cigar with Aladino.

I smoked a robusto size of the Aladino Corojo Reserva. The presentation features tissue paper wrapping at the bottom half, much like Cuban Fonsecas. I love the vintage aspect of this. The scent on pre-light is sweet earth. There’s a wonderfully subtle flavor profile of buttery sourdough bread once the cigar is lit. The cigar smokes mild and often quite mellow throughout. The tobacco flavor is incredibly well-balanced, and the burn is even.

I paired the Corojo Reserva with Balvenie’s 16-year-old French Oak Scotch. With a nose of sweet hay and grains, this whisky was an excellent companion to the stick. The finish features flavors of banana bread and raisins.

The layers of flavor between the cigar and spirit are wonderful and on the milder side. The bready-tobacco of this smoke connects well with the bready sweetness of the Scotch, and together they make for a quality pairing experience. This pairing stays in my rotation.

Serino Royale Maduro XX
Barrell Vantage Whiskey

Serino has made quite a name for itself as a well-known craft cigar manufacturer, and they wear that badge with pride. Generally, Serino sources tobacco from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Their blends are premium artisanal, but very accessible with reasonable price points.

The Serino Royale Maduro XX celebrates the 20th anniversary of the company with a bold, yet balanced and flavorful cigar in the robusto extra format. It’s a half inch longer than a robusto. The nose detects very sweet tobacco from the wrapper and well-aged leather. When lighting the cigar, I noted dark cherry and chocolate notes as well, and found the strength to be a bit less than I expected.

I paired the Serino with Barrel’s Vantage whiskey, a bourbon that’s finished in French oak, toasted American oak and Mizunara oak casks. The result is a warming spice flavor profile coupled with dry cedar and traces of pecan. At cask strength, this is a bold whiskey which matches the bold Royale Maduro XX’s chocolate and leather profile very well. A cedar profile in a whiskey is always a good choice when smoking a cigar, and this is no exception.

Size: 5 ½ x 50 Robusto Extra
Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder, Filler: Nicaraguan
Strength: Full
MSRP (cigar): $12
MSRP (whiskey): $100 

Size: 7 ½ x 50 Lancero
Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder, Filler: Brazilian, Dominican, Nicaraguan
Strength: Full
MSRP (cigar): $8
MSRP (rum): $75  

Kristoff Sumatra Lancero
Bayou Rum Mardi Gras XO

There’s no doubt when you see a box of Kristoff cigars at your local cigar shop. Packaged in ornate boxes and resting on a bed of tobacco leaves, their cigars have both a rustic and elegant presentation.   

I tried Kristoff’s Sumatra Lancero (the crimson-banded cigar) and found that it had the floral notes I’d expect from a Sumatra wrapper, plus elements of cinnamon and spice. The lancero smoked in exemplary fashion all the way through, with a razor-sharp burn line, and the strength of the cigar ran a bit strong from light to nub. A lancero can pack more of a punch as a “concentrated” smoke, and the Sumatra delivers balanced and delicious flavors.  

I paired Kristoff’s Sumatra with Bayou Rum Mardi Gras XO, a rum made by the Cathead Distillery in Louisiana. Bayou Mardi Gras has a beautiful amber color–maple syrup in tone. This rum is fresh and sweet on the nose much like strawberries and cream. Flavors consist of vanilla cream and a little touch of blueberry muffin, both sweet and creamy. The bold cigar with cinnamon notes makes for a good marriage between the vanilla and cream. It’s a melt in your mouth cigar pairing.  

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