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Tips: Five Cold-Weather Drinks to Pair with Cigars

28 Oct 2020

Summer is in the rear-view mirror. With autumn’s arrival, temperatures are be dropping. And if you’re smoking cigars outdoors, you may be looking for a drink pairing that works with the season. Here are five suggestions:

Single Malt Scotch — It is exceedingly rare that I drink scotch when the temperature is warm, but this time of year I find myself pouring scotch to pair with a cigar more often. Depending on your taste, peaty scotch or sherried single malt whiskey both have unexplained warming qualities. Some of my favorites (Laphroaig PX Cask, Ardbeg Uigeadail) are actually both sherried and peated.

Hot Toddy — A classic that can be made with scotch (save the single malt, use a blend), bourbon, brandy, or even mezcal. It’s simple to make. Just add sugar, lemon, and cloves to boiling water and your spirit. Hot toddies pair well with Connecticut-wrapped cigars.

Stonewall Jackson — An American classic consisting of hot cider and bourbon (but rye, Tennessee whiskey, or even spiced rum fill in nicely). As I’ve written before, it’s a late fall drink that pairs with stronger cigars, like the 601 Green or Fausto.

Hot Buttered Rum — Serially underrated (especially by those who have never tried it but think butter in a drink is just weird), hot buttered rum is a little more complicated to make than other hot cocktails. After you make it a few times, though, you’ll find it’s really not too difficult. Drink yours with a medium-bodied Honduran or Nicaraguan cigar, or anytime you are outdoors and it is snowing.

Coffee — Still a classic, coffee (in its many forms) is a perfect pairing for cigars. Coffee in the morning with a mild cigar is a great pairing, same for a Cuban coffee in the afternoon or evening. If you don’t want caffeine late at night give decaf a try. (My bias against decaf stopped me from drinking it for years, but lately I’ve found some excellent decaf roasts from a local coffee shop.)

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Partagas Serie P No. 2 (Cuban)

19 Sep 2020

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

I’ve had this Cuban tubo in my humidor for at least five years. That time has served it well. The Partagas Serie P No. 2 (6.1 x 52) features notes of earth, coffee bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, cream, and toast. It’s medium-bodied with a balanced profile. While the foot was slightly frayed when removed from the tubo, it still demonstrated excellent construction with an even burn and sturdy ash.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Ardbeg Wee Beastie Single Malt Scotch Whisky

3 Sep 2020

Ardbeg’s profile has always been bold and brash, and in many ways the announcement of its new Wee Beastie offering is following in that tradition. At a time when many new single malts are dropping age statements due to a lack of desirable double-digit age statements, a new offering that loudly proclaims it is “just” five years old is the quintessential zig when everyone else is zagging.

Deemed the “rawest, smokiest Ardbeg ever”—which says something for a brand known for raw, smoky, peaty offerings—it is matured in ex-bourbon and oloroso sherry casks and non chill-filtered at 47.4% ABV. At around $45, depending on where you are, it is priced to be tried as one of the least expensive, age-stated, single malt scotch whiskies (certainly one of the most affordable new age-stated offerings in recent years).

The result is a pale, light straw-colored single malt. Those who identify deep, rich color as evidence of quality whiskey aren’t likely to be impressed, but Ardbeg’s other offerings, which also present unadulterated color, show this can be meaningless. The nose features barbecue smoke, raw alcohol, tart apples, and hints of mint, pear, and tar.

The palate is more of the same: a vibrant combination of saltwater, ash, tar, gingerbread, white pepper, and malty sugar cookies. The finish is long and bright with fudge, salted caramel, soot, and more malty sweetness.

No one will mistake Ardbeg Wee Beastie for a significantly-aged single malt, but it boasts a lot to enjoy. The intense flavors are tamed by the subtle sherry notes, while the smokiness and brine never let you forget its age.

As far as cigar pairings go, it needs a full-bodied smoke. The PG Series III (pictured) my colleague recently extolled certainly fits the bill. Other ideal parings include Padrón Serie 1926, Ramón Allones (Cuban), and the Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection.

Ultimately, this whiskey certainly isn’t for everyone. But if you like smokey, peaty single malts—think Ardbeg’s older expressions, Lagavulin, or Laphroaig—this young, raw expression of Ardbeg is worth a try.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: My Father La Gran Oferta Robusto

20 Aug 2020

From time to time we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Made at My Father’s factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, La Gran Oferta employs tobaccos from the company’s Nicaraguan farms and features an oily Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper. It produces loads of smoke and medium- to full-bodied flavors. Construction is flawless, with a sturdy gray ash. Notes include toast, black coffee, earth, and roast nuts. It’s not my favorite My Father Cigars regular offering, but it is still worth checking out.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Muestra de Saka Unstolen Valor

16 Jul 2020

From time to time we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust makes a variety of well-reviewed, sought-after cigars. On the ultra-premium end is Muestra de Saka, a series of one-off cigars, each with its own size and blend packaged individually in coffin boxes. The latest, Muestra de Saka Unstolen Valor, is the first not to be made at the Joya de Nicaragua factory. Blended by Raul Disla and made at the Nicaragua American Cigars S.A. factory, it’s a Nicaraguan puro. After an initial burst of black pepper, the toro boasts flavors of earth, leather, and a hearty meatiness reminiscent of grilled lamb. It’s a medium- to full-bodied blend with loads of complementary sweet cedar and cinnamon, but never losing that spicy, oaky edge. It has flawless construction with a firm but not overly tight draw and an ash that holds for well over an inch (before I, not the cigar, decided that was enough). You should expect a lot from a cigar that costs over $16. Unstolen Valor delivers.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Five Classic Summer Rum Drinks

8 Jul 2020

Summer may be in full swing, but it isn’t too late to whip up a summer cocktail. And while I’m usually partial to whiskey, nothing says summer like a drink with rum. Something about the result of distilled molasses has just the right combination of sweetness and bite. I find the occasional over-the-top umbrella rum cocktail—like a mai tai, piña colada, or rum punch—have to have too much sweetness to pair well with a smoke (though the classic Daiquirí, as opposed to the overly sweet frozen version, is excellent). So here are five classic rum drinks that work  fantastically with a cigar:

rums5) Mount Gay Tonic — Want a fresh drink that’s perfect for a warm afternoon? Mount Gay Tonic is the answer. Mix rum and tonic water in nearly equal parts, serve over ice with a lime, and you’ll end up with a versatile and invigorating drink that’s a suitable pairing for most medium-bodied smokes.

4) Dark ‘n Stormy — Made with Goslings rum and tangy ginger beer, this concoction mixes one part dark rum with two parts ginger beer, ideally Barritts. Known as the official drink of Burmuda, you’ll need a full-flavored cigar to stand up to its spice.

3) Cuba Libre — You can just call it a rum and Coke, but when you’re pairing it with a cigar “cuba libre” seems so much more fitting.  (The pairing is so fitting that Nestor Plasencia named a cigar Cuba Libre.) I recommend a spiced rum and pairing it with a spicy Cameroon-wrapped cigar.

2) Mojito — For my money it’s hard to beat a mojito: mint, rum, lime, sugar, and a splash of soda water blended perfectly into a refreshing beverage. Enjoy it with a mild- to medium-bodied smoke, preferably a creamy stick with a Connecticut wrapper.

1) Straight Up or On the Rocks — As well as rums blend with other beverages, it’s easy to forget that the best way to taste a fine rum is straight up or on the rocks. Fine rums offer as much intensity as a fine scotch or bourbon, and only unaccompanied will you be able to discern all the complexity of a well-aged spirit. Each will require it’s own cigar pairing, but with such flavors as honey, banana peel, oak, cedar, and pepper, there are more than enough flavors to pair with a fine smoke.

So there you have it, my favorite rum drinks to accompany a fine cigar. Think I missed one? Let us know in the comments.

Patrick S

photo credit: Wikimedia

Quick Smoke: Villiger do Brasil Maduro Robusto

18 Jun 2020

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

One of two Brazilian puros introduced by Villiger earlier this year, the Maduro blend (which retails for $9) features a splotchy Aripiraca wrapper, while the other (Claro) sports a Brazilian-grown Connecticut-seed wrapper. The cigar opens with sweet vanilla bean and coffee, but soon is dominated by heavy leather, coffee, and woody notes. It’s an enjoyable and complex, if at times unbalanced, smoke.

Verdict = Hold.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys