The weather is heating up…and so it cigar season! An array of brand new cigars just arrived at Bottles and we can’t wait to light them up. This week, Don is smoking the rich, medium-bodied Onyx Reserve Toro Maduro (6 x 50). The Onyx is boxed pressed for an easy draw smoke and the aged Maduro wrapper provides a sweet finish.
It is actually rolled at the same Dominican factory that makes Romeo y Julietta and Montecristo. The Onyx, however is rolled with a complex blend of Dominican, Nicaraguan and spicy Peruvian tobacco. The smoke is long (approximately 1 hour) with smooth, rich espresso flavor.
“Over the years, this has been one of my favorite after dinner cigars. I would pair this cigar with a dark, rich rum straight up. This is a high quality smoking experience from start to finish.”
The Onyx will pair well with a dark rum. We have enjoyed it with Amrut Old Port Deluxe from India, which pairs especially well with several different cigars. But today we’re drinking Clément Rhum Select Barrel, which is distinctively smooth while it’s soft vanilla notes compliment the sweet finish of the cigar. With this pairing you’re in for an intense aromatic experience of aged oak and spice.
This week, Don has selected a somewhat fuller bodied cigar from the Rocky Patel Vintage Collection, a 1990 Vintage Robusto (5.5 x 50). The wrapper is a 12 year-old Honduran Broadleaf Maduro and the filler tobacco was aged for 5 years. Broadleaf Maduro can initially appear strong or overpowering. In Spanish, Maduro means “ripe” or “mature” however these wrappers actually have a slightly sweet finish.
Cigar press at Honduran cigar factory. Photo by Duncan Smith
The Robusto is also box pressed. This means that the cigars are placed in a dress box, stacked on top of each other and physically pressed to give the cigars a square shape instead of the usual round construction. There is a never ending debate among cigar smokers as to whether box pressed cigars smoke differently than round ones. Some say box-pressed cigars burn a bit longer and taste strong, but according to Don:
“They only difference that I have found between the two rolls is an occasional difference in the ‘draw’ and mouthfeel.”
This aged maduro would pair well with W.L. Weller ‘Antique’ Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Not to be confused with the Weller 12-Year or Special Reserve, the Antique is a 7-Year aged wheated amber bourbon with sweet notes of vanilla and a long spicy finish. It’s delicious over ice as the weather warms up and a perfect compliment to the robust Rocky Patel.
This week’s cigar selection is Ashton ‘Churchill’ from the Dominican Republic. Ashton is a mild to medium-bodied cigar sporting a flawless Connecticut shade wrapper. When the Levin family smoke shop of Philadelphia planned the Ashton line, they commissioned the renowned Arturo Fuente cigar family to make the cigars. This blend is known for its exquisitely rich flavor and spicy aftertaste.
This smoke would pair very well with J.P. Wiser’s Canadian Rye. Typically, Canadian whiskies have a distinct smoothness. Unlike a Scottish single malt, the clean heat during the distilling process leaves a lighter and less smoky result. J.P. Wiser’s Canadian Rye is rich with strong notes of caramel, vanilla and toffee.
Plan to sit down for a while with this combo because a Churchill, approximately 7 x 50, is larger than your average cigar. Smoke one and you will quickly see why Ashton has become one the most popular high end brands on the market.
Ashton ‘Churchill’ – $12.99 J.P. Wiser’s Canadian Rye – $26.99
Spring is in full swing and Don is lighting up a new cigar this week. The Acid ‘Blondie’ Natural from Nicaragua is a Petit Corona (5″ x 42), relatively thin and small making for a short 20-minute sweet smoke. It is smooth with notes of honey and cream plus a delightfully sweet aroma. The finish is more robust but generally makes for a milder, every day cigar.
Because of the sweet aromas and taste, this cigar pairs beautifully with the apéritif, Byrrh Gran Quinquina. Quinquina is a type of apéritif wine that usually contains quinine and cinchona bark from South America and known for it’s medicinal purposes. In 1873, Byrrh Gran Quinquina was created by a pair of French brothers following the traditional South American Quinquina recipe, while including notes of coffee, orange, cocoa, all matured in French oak casks. The result is a balanced apéritif of fruit and spice, served on ice–Refreshing!
Find the pairing in store: Acid ‘Blondie’ Natural $6.99
Byrrh Grand Quinquina $19.99
This week, Don is smoking Arturo Fuente ‘Short Story’ Cameroon, a Perfecto shape (tapered at both ends) from the Hemingway collection. The Hemingway line is among the most popular of all Fuente cigars due to its rich, flavorful Cameroon wrapper. It was dedicated to Ernest Hemingway himself, author of “The Old Man and the Sea” a story of courage and personal triumph over defeat.
The Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story is medium bodied with a slightly sweet finish. A rather small cigar (4 x 49) but with a satisfying taste of cedar, spice and hints of leather. Plus it doesn’t take all day to smoke.
As the weather gets increasingly warmer, we’re starting to break out our rum. This makes Amrut Old Port Deluxe Matured Rum the perfect choice for this cigar. A dark, aged rum from India, it has thick rich flavors of vanilla and earthy fruits. The palate is sweet but with a dry finish, making for the perfect pairing with this spicy, leathery cigar.
Welcome to Don’s cigar pick of the week, just in time for The Masters golf tournament this weekend! Each week this spring we’ll be featuring a new cigar pick from Don Schmidt, our wine, scotch and cigar connoisseur. Don has been in the beverage industry for over forty-two years and is a Rhode Island living legend. One of his favorite pastimes is sipping a wonderful wine or scotch and smoking a fine cigar on a beautiful, breezy Saturday afternoon.
This week Don is smoking Romeo y Julietta 1875 Exhibicion #3 from the Dominican Republic. A great way to kick off cigar season, this is a medium bodied Toro-shape with rich, smooth flavor and a spicy finish.
Don is pairing it with Compass Box ‘Oak Cross’ Malt Scotch. The Oak Cross Whisky Co. is known for creating small batch Scotch whiskies in an approachable, but experimental way. Oak Cross is a vatted malt, combining French and American oak aging to create a lush vanilla aromas with a touch of clove spice on the palate.
Together, the Oak Cross and Exhibicion #3 (with maybe some aged cheese, or almonds!) create an excellent springtime digestif full of soft flavors and a slight twist of spice.