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Cigar Pairing: Quintero Panetelas

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Autumn weather means one thing – time to bust out a few cigars.  Online cigar boutique Montefortuna Cigars was kind enough to send over a couple of Cubans and asked that I pair each one with a different whiskey.

To kick things off, I decided to reach for Quintero Panetelas, a small but fiesty cigar.  It’s relatively inexpensive and packs quite the flavor.  It’s made with tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo and Semi Vuelta.

After a few initial puffs, I poured a glass of Glenmorangie Signet, and am glad I did.

Annoyingly, the cigar itself had a very tight draw at first, but improved slightly as time passed.  Glenmorangie Signet is a wonderfully balanced.  The whisky’s dark chocolate and sherry profile beautifully complemented the cigar’s bold tobacco and slightly woody taste.  Because of its small size, the stick lasted about a half hour, making it a great choice for a daily smoker.  I typically drink one glass of whisky while smoking a cigar.  However, these two paired so well I poured another glass of whisky to help finish off the cigar.  That’s saying something.

Quintero Panetelas can be purchased at Montefortunacigars.com.

Thanks to Montefortuna Cigars for the cigar.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Review: Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente

Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente celebrates the 50th anniversary of the TAA, the Tobacconist Association of America, with this exclusive release. Made of Nicaraguan tobacco aged 5 years, this 6 3/4 x 50 pressed cigar is an extension of the Antaño Gran Reserva brand.

This stick is full of wood spice and leather, with very slight hints of candied fruit. It’s a wonderfully balanced cigar that leads to a satisfying, hour-long smoke. Full bodied but not overpowering. I decided to pair it with Hennessy XO and I never looked back. The cognac’s big caramel and fruity palate complemented the cigar’s wood beautifully and brought out more of those leather notes.

This cigar is available to TAA members at $12.50 per stick and available in three other sizes: Robusto Grande Box-Pressed (5 1/2 x 52), Belicoso (6 x 54), and Gran Consul (4 3/4 x60).

Thanks to Joya de Nicaragua for the samples. As always, all thoughts and opinions are are my own.

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Louisiana Barn Smoker Photo Recap

A few weeks ago at L.A. Poche in St. James parish, about an hour’s drive from New Orleans, Drew Estate kicked off their first Louisiana Barn Smoker. More than 300 attendees joined Drew Estate founder Jonathan Drew, Master Blender Willie Herrera, and Carrie & Louise Van Winkle for a firsthand look at the barrel fermentation process unique to St. James parish.

St. James parish grows Perique tobacco, and has been barrel fermenting for a long time. Tobacco typically ferments in covered piles. Using an ex-bourbon barrel for the fermentation process helps impart a touch of the spirit’s qualities into the tobacco as well as breakdown the leaf’s unwanted flavors. A few years back, Jonathan Drew got together with L.A. Poche and started barrel fermenting their Kentucky fire-cured tobacco. It is this tobacco that is used as the wrapper near the head of the Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented cigars, giving the cigar its signature character.

Jonathan Drew and Willie Herrera walked attendees through the process of how tobacco is processed, from tiny seedling to ready-to-smoke cigar. These guys answered all questions honestly, which is something not always found in the spirits industry. Transparency and education seem to be major themes of the Barn Smoker events. Kudos to Drew Estate for that!

A raffle was also held at the event, which generously raised $12,000 for Cigars for Warriors. The group sends cigars overseas to deployed soldiers, providing a little comfort in the process.

Angel’s Envy, MB Roland and Jonathan Drew’s own spirits were also available for attendees to sample. Add to that the deliciously spicy Cajun catering that was served for lunch and the gorgeous weather, and it was a recipe for an unforgettably entertaining, educational and relaxing event. If you have even a passing interest in cigars, you have to make it out to one. Let me tell you, future Barn Smoker events are now on my radar.

L.A. Poche, the site of the first Louisiana Barn Smoker.

Cured tobacco awaiting rehydration.

A rehydrated tobacco leaf.

The warehouse was filled with barrels fermenting tobacco. On a side note, the smell in here was quite nice.

A closeup look at fermenting tobacco. All that’s added to the barrel is tobacco and water.

Jonathan Drew giving attendees a bit of the Drew Estate history. The company, founded in 1998, is celebrating its 20th anniversary next year.

Drew Estate Master Blender Willie Herrera recounting how the Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented cigars came to be.

Every attendee walked away with a few sticks and some swag as part of their ticket price.

A special thanks to the good folks at Drew Estate for the invite. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.