Merry Christmas Eve! Today I’m talking about bourbon and cigars. These days bourbon is all the rage, from classic cocktails such as Manhattans and Old-Fashioned to pricey small batch limited production bottlings that are in high demand. Cigars are a perfect complement to this rich whiskey as this pairing can bring out the best on both the cigar and the bourbon. Over the years we’ve even seen cigars “seasoned” or “imbued” with bourbon such as Makers Mark cigars and cigars with filler tobacco aged in bourbon barrels like the Camacho American Barrel Aged. These all have their distinctive tastes that come from these various processes and they are cigars that folks either love or hate for a variety of reasons. Today, I’m trying one made just a bit different and this will be the Perdomo Habano Bourbon Barrel Aged cigar.
Nick Perdomo makes some outstanding smokes down in Nicaragua that have a very loyal following due to the high quality of his tobaccos. This year we picked up two lines from Perdomo that are just a natural fit to our business. One was the Craft Beer Series which highlights varying blends of tobaccos designed to bring out the best in various styles of craft beers. The other line is the Habano Bourbon Barrel Aged Series and these are unique in that the wrapper leaves are aged in bourbon barrels. This is an interesting concept since the wrapper leaf is such a key ingredient in a cigar with the majority of flavor coming from that expensive component. And I must say that what Nick did here was brilliant. Having tried other “bourbon” cigars I must admit I was not fond of them so I was skeptical of these. And it was a pleasant surprise.
These tasty smokes come in three different blends; Connecticut, Sun-Grown and Maduro and in a wide variety of sizes. Without complicating matters as to fillers and binders, the bottom line is the wrapper. Simply put, the wrappers are Ecuadorian Connecticut, Nicaraguan Sun-Grown, and Nicaraguan Maduro that have all been aged for six years. After that initial aging the Connecticut wrapper spends six more months in a bourbon barrel, the sun-grown spends ten more months and the Maduro gets another 14 months of bourbon barrel aging.
I chose the Maduro to smoke and paired it with both a dark beer and a black rye whiskey. Definitely the best pairings for this medium to full smoke. This cigar brought out the best features in both beverages with a bit of rich sweetness from the Maduro wrapper. There were hints of dark coffee and dark chocolate sneaking in also but every draw brought forth the bourbon notes lurking in the background. The bourbon flavor was just lightly present and not overwhelming and gave just the right complexity. I can hardly wait to try the Connecticut and sun-grown versions next with some lighter drinks. I definitely recommend giving this series a try if you haven’t taken the plunge yet.
Steve Mungeer, Category Manager: Premium Cigars and Craft Beers
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