A World Class Pairing Trial by Nick Hammond | photos by Hunters & Frankau Our British brother of the leaf, NICK HAMMOND, is invited to join a roomful of experts in a Champagne and Habanos pairing trial. Tough gig… The offer of Champagne is enough to garner my attention. The offer of a cigar ensures it. But combine the two and I’m all yours, all day, all night, wherever you may be headed. So when I received an invite to join the Masters of Havanas – all those Havana cigar specialists in the UK who have passed an exacting examination invigilated by UK Cuban cigar importer, Hunters & Frankau – who are gathering en masse for a Havana and Champagne tasting, you couldn’t see me for dust. Many of these specialist sommeliers – employed in fancy hotels, restaurants, cigar bars and lounges the length and breadth of the land – are friends of mine, and we don’t often get the chance to catch up. Still more are nodding acquaintances, and I like to get to know as many new faces as I can. These are the cream of cigar specialists in the UK. They’re able to pair a Montecristo Open with a suggested beverage, or give you the precise measurement of an obscure Limited Edition release. [...]

Nat Sherman Puts the “Nat” in National Espresso Day

By: Randy Mastronicola Coffee is a passion shared by many and National Espresso Day on November 23rd is likely to inspire many of us to seek out a good java jolt. Nat Sherman’s Michael Herklots, Vice President of Retail and Brand Development, offers us a couple of pairing suggestions that will add a little spirit to your espresso experience. “Inevitably, cigars last longer than espresso. Personally, I like sparking water on the side. I’ll generally light the cigar first while waiting for the espresso. Then, I enjoy the espresso with the cigar and continue with the cigar once the espresso finishes, accompanied by the sparkling water. The latest espresso is Espresso Corretto, which is espresso served with liquor inside. Anise flavored liqueurs are typical. Rye or Bourbon is great as well, as are grappa and some rums. As for a cigar to pair, whatever you’re in the mood for.” Much like cigars, coffee is a language unto itself, and most of us would agree there is no shortage of dialects. Herklots continues, “Regarding espresso, I like mine ristretto (short) and without sugar. I recommend a Nat Sherman Timeless No. 5. It’s a small format with great flavor that remains cool but it’s the [...]

Montecristo White Series Vintage Connecticut No. 3 with Ron Zacapa Solera 23

By Benjamin Winokur Rare, vintage aged tobacco? Check. Silky Connecticut shade wrapper? Check! Exceptional craftsmanship and construction? Check again. These are just a few of the qualities possessed by the Montecristo Vintage Connecticut. The Montecristo Vintage Connecticut No. 3 is a 5 ½” X 44 corona that comes from the Tabacalera de García in the Dominican Republic. The filler is comprised of an expert blend of tobaccos from Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua; it is finished off with a 2008 Vintage Connecticut Shade Grown wrapper. It should come as no surprise that this wrapper comes from Altadis’ very own farm in Connecticut. Fun fact, the red barn and field on the label are images taken on that same farm. To start off, this is a beautifully presented cigar with the unique box and band artwork. The cigar itself is no slouch either, once you remove that large center band you’re faced with a golden-honey Connecticut shade wrapper that is smooth and velvety to the touch. Upon lighting the Montecristo Vintage Connecticut is smooth and mild, offering soft touches of white and black pepper on the nose during retrohale, with buttery and cream notes throughout. Paired with the Montecristo Vintage Connecticut [...]

RoMa Craft Tabac Intemperance With Casamigos Anejo Tequila

  By Greg Mays  Don’t you just love cigar names nowadays? The Intemperance Brotherly Kindness has a slight shaggy foot, making it a good-looking cigar and an easy one to light. The understated ring is handy, particularly for the ring-on smokers amongst us. Also featuring an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, the Intemperance lights sweet, with touches of leather and cream. There is a very faint barnyard flavor, though I found it to be more like damp wood than manure and hay. When engaging with Casamigos again, I was surprised to find it take on a spicier profile, imparted by the wood it’s aged in. It delivers a raw oak bite and less of the toasted barrel; something I had not detected in my first pairing. The wrapper on the Intemperance became more vanilla-forward as it smoked, and the construction was impeccable. The cap is a little bit over wrapped, helping construction to hold together; regardless of the cut you prefer, a welcome quality for a cigar in this price range.The pairing between Casamigos Añejo and the Intemperance is a tight fit: there is an interplay of apricot, vanilla, spice and wood that is tightly woven from start to finish, and you’ll realize this [...]

My Father Connecticut Toro With Casamigos Anejo Tequila

By Greg Mays Classified as a mild cigar from the Garcia family’s My Father line, the Connecticut label of the My Father series is flavorful nonetheless. Jose “Pepin” Garcia and his son Jaime blend the Connecticut line with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper (the only leaves not harvested on the Garcia’s estate), with their own Nicaragua Corojo ‘99 binder, and Nicaragua Habano-Criollo filler. The initial light of the cigar delivers warm spice to the palate, followed by dry hay notes as the heat dissipates. At times the My Father Connecticut delivers a subtle peppery cream note, but ultimately the smoking experience is mild, dry and herbal. It’s definitely an increased flavor profile from the old guard of mild cigars and certainly offers a nice stop-gap for those seeking a milder smoking experience but prefer the flavors that Nicaraguan tobacco delivers. When paired with Casamigos Añejo Tequila, the flavors of each are compatible, but not necessarily complementary in profile. Casamigos has some distilling techniques which lead to a unique tequila experience, primarily in the length of time their agave piñas are roasted and fermented. This leads to a more agave-forward spirit, and even in their older products like the Añejo, the agave’s [...]

Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Bourbon Whiskey and Tatuaje Belle Encre Reserva Cigar

You’ll swear this bourbon and cigar were made especially for each other. By Benjamin Winokur Bourbon, the quintessential American whiskey. In fact, I can’t help but think about bourbon and Mark Twain in the same thought process. How could I not? I’m sitting here with a glass of exceptional bourbon, a fine cigar, and an empty page awaiting my literary input. It was Twain himself who wrote “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” Buffalo Trace saw fit to offer a bottle of Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Single Barrel bourbon whiskey for this issue’s pairing. Good whiskey, indeed, and tonight I would come to appreciate Twain’s sentiment even more. One immediately takes notice of the old-fashioned yellow label affixed to the bottle with “Bottled in Bond” printed in bold type across the bottom. Interestingly, E.H. Taylor was instrumental in passing the “Bottled-in-Bond” act of 1897, which required any spirit labeled as “Bonded” or “Bottled in Bond” to be the product of a single distiller from a single distillery during a single distillation season. Additionally, the act required that bonded spirits be aged in a federally bonded warehouse, supervised for at least four years, and bottled [...]

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