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Cigars & Spirits: Perfect Pairings to Expand Your Palate

April 19, 2020

“The surprising level of spice in Heritage makes for a great cigar malt, for sure, a bold and bright interplay in which the cigar actually provides the sweetness and balance.” - Greg Mays

by Greg Mays

UNDERCROWN SHADY XX
ALPINE TRAVELER’S REST SINGLE MALT WHISKEY

The Shady XX was designed as a collaboration between Drew Estate and Shady Records (co-founded by Eminem and Paul Rosenberg) to celebrate the label’s 20th anniversary. Rosenberg is a cigar smoker and joined forces with Drew on this limited-edition run, the first since Shady XV, the 15th anniversary version.

Packaged in a gold-embossed box of 10, the ShadyXX looks to be a variation on the Undercrown Maduro, though with a belicoso box-pressed shape and the commemorative Shady cigar band on the foot. Using a similar blend to the standard Undercrown, these cigars have a Mexican San Andrés
wrapper and are filled with Nicaraguan and Brazilian tobacco.

On light, the presence of the Brazilian tobacco is clear, complemented by a plume of rich and spicy smoke with an initial sweetness from the slick wrapper. As the cigar burns on, it has perfect construction and ramps up in strength and spice. Toward the nub, the wrapper’s sweetness gives way to a pepper-spice flavor with a touch of nuttiness.

I paired the Shady XX with Alpine Traveler’s Rest Single Malt Whiskey, a craft spirit from Utah with great notes of pine and earth, a tight pairing combo that accompanies the cigar well. Traveler’s Rest is bright and tingly on the palate, with a cinnamon spice and a smooth, cool, clean finish.

Size: 5 x 50 Box-Pressed Belicoso
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Connecticut Habano
Filler: Brazilian and Nicaraguan
MSRP (cigar): $11
MSRP (whiskey): $45

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FUENTE DON ARTURO DESTINO AL SIGLO DE AMISTAD
LAST DROP CENTENARIO TAWNY PORT

One of many tribute cigars to the late Don Arturo Fuente, the Destino al Siglo is a limited-release cigar with a flavor profile to match the rich heritage of the Fuente family. Pre-light, the cigar is well-aged, rich and musty on the nose, and after the light, there are some incredibly deep notes of toast and rich cream.

As the Destino al Siglo progresses, the rich, aged tobacco is clear, and wine-cellar notes with prune and plum take the lead. The richness and complexity of this stick cannot be understated. There are nuances throughout, and the flavors work together well, like jam on toast.

A cigar as elegant as this requires an equally elegant pairing, and Last Drop’s Centenario Tawny Port turned out to be better-than-perfect. Syrupy and woody on the pour, the flavor profile of this fine Port is exactly as hoped: jammy, prunes, sweet but not sickly. Pairings dance between the richness of the cigar and Port, from the plum notes to the toasty cream, and the sweet balance between these two quality aged products is outstanding. This pairing is best reserved for an evening with perfect temperature, cool shade and a belly full of a rich, delicious dinner.

Size: 5 x 50 Robusto
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
MSRP (cigar): $40
MSRP (port): $5,000

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MICALLEF CONNECTICUT
ALFRED GIRAUD HERITAGE FRENCH MALT WHISKY
Micallef has made quite the name in the craft cigar space over the past few years. It seems they have arrived big time and are now considered a major brand by most. Micallef Cigars is a Texas-based business with cigars that are blended and rolled by the Gomez Sanchez family in Nicaragua. Every Micallef cigar I smoke is impeccably built and very flavorful.

The Connecticut is the same. Citrus notes on the cold draw, the smoke production and draw are equally pleasing. Additional flavors include sweet pipe tobacco, and buttery pastry on the tongue with a dry and nutty mouthfeel.

I paired the Micallef Connecticut with Alfred Giraud Heritage, a French single malt whiskey. The name Alfred Giraud is already synonymous with Cognac and they are now releasing a line of single malt whiskies in the States that are aged in—you guessed it—cognac casks. Heritage is their top-of-the-line offering.

Giraud Heritage is wood-spicy, with complementary citrus notes to the Micallef Connecticut, veering toward lime with an almost tropical undertone. Distantly, there is something like red wine present as well, viscous and meaty. The surprising level of spice in Heritage makes for a great cigar malt, for sure, a bold and bright interplay in which the cigar actually provides the sweetness and balance.

Strength-wise, this pairing is on the lighter side, great for a warm afternoon with an hour or two to relax, smoke and sip.

Size: 6 x 52 Toro
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Dominican and Nicaraguan
MSRP (cigar): $9
MSRP (whiskey): $300

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Alfred Giraud - French malt whisky
Alfred Giraud - French malt whisky