I started out smoking maduro cigars: big, rich, bold in-your-face flavors that called on the scent and taste of simmering hot coffee, spicy espresso and luscious chocolate, these dark cigars were so robust that they often left lingering and smoky memories on the tongue, in the nose and clinging to the hair. As I got to know the world of cigars and how to recommend specific cigars for specific smokers, I found that many beginning cigar smokers gravitated towards the lighter styles, preferring the smooth and creamy Connecticuts or the slightly spicy and earthy mediums.
Another favorite of those who were just entering the cigar world are infused cigars. Before working at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, my only knowledge of a product similar to this was the foil-wrapped flavored cigars commonly found at gas stations. After examining the store’s humidor’s infused offering, it was time for the recommender to get a recommendation: a regular guest told me to try a Rocky Patel Java and to my delight, I learned that cigars could taste like things other than just cigars.
Beginning with Rocky Patel’s Java line, I began to research the world of infused cigars and found out that the cigar I had picked was actually a collaboration between Rocky Patel and a man named Jonathan Drew, of Drew Estate. His instrumental help developing the Java line was derived from the great strides the Drew Estate cigar company had made with cigar infusing. Their infusing process is different from the flavoring used by the typical over-the-counter cigars you find being sold in convenience stores. Little is known about Drew Estate’s top-secret process for their flagship ACID line, but from little teasers the company does reveal, their cigars are not flavored, but “infused” by placing the cigars in special rooms lined with botanicals, oils and herbs, whose aromatic properties permeate the aging cigars adding different flavors and aromas. A year ago, I was lucky enough to tour the Drew Estate cigar factory in Nicaragua and I can assure you, the lore is real: There is a secret door in the factory, locked and hidden out of the way, perpetuating the mystery of the ACID line.
Infused cigars have become one of my most successful recommendations for beginning smokers. Their appetizing flavors and aromatic properties ease guests into the world of cigars and tantalize them with new flavor sensations. The more they experience, the more they are comfortable with branching out and trying other cigar styles and strengths. Infused cigars not only revolutionized the market, they did what few others have been able to—introduce cigars to new smokers in an appealing and fun way.
Makenzie Ladd, Beer Consultant and Tobacconist – Sarasota
Follow me on Twitter @abcbeermakenzie