Pairing cigars with beer, wine, and spirits is nothing new. Wine is a great thing to pair with cigars, and the folks at Nat Sherman and Schrader Cellars paired up last year to develop a cigar blend that went perfectly with wine. Michael and Rosemary recently picked up several of these and started pairing them with bourbons, and they discovered they actually pair pretty well with bourbon as well. So we decided to take a closer look and determine which bourbon would pair best with this extremely limited edition Nat Sherman Schrader cigar.
The MMXII cigar, also known as the “Sparky Two,” has filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Peru, and the Dominican Republic as well as a Dominican wrapper. According to Halfwheel, Schrader and Herklots went through about 12 different prototypes before they found the blend they felt went best with the Schrader wines.
We met with our friend Wayne Klawier in Michael’s office to do this pairing. We liked the cigar right off the bat, finding it had a nice vanilla creaminess, notes of sweet alfalfa hay, and a mint of minerality. The bourbons Michael picked out for us were Old Fitzgerald Prime, Four Roses Yellow Label, Blanton’s, and Angel’s Envy.
- Old Fitzgerald Prime – I found this to be a very enjoyable pairing. The smoke brought out candy apple notes in the bourbon, while the bourbon highlighted a vanilla creme note in the smoke.This was my favorite pairing of the night, even after I circled back to it later.
- Four Roses Yellow Label – Of course we had to discuss the fact that this will no longer be called Four Roses Yellow Label, and we even joked that henceforth it shall be known as the “Bourbon Formerly Known As Four Roses Yellow Label,” or BFKAFRYL. The smoke brought out creminess and fruit notes in the bourbon with a heavy spice finish. The brought brought out faint cocoa notes in the smoke. I don’t know why I didn’t write it down, but I believe Michael said this was his favorite pairing of the four.
- Blanton’s – The smoke brought out syrupy sweetness and green apple in the bourbon, but oddly too much spice. The bourbon made the smoke taste hotter more than anything else. I don’t know why exactly and I’m still trying to figure it out, but Buffalo Trace products just don’t seem to pair well with most of the cigars I try.
- Angel’s Envy Bourbon Finished In Port Wine Casks – Michael picked this one in anticipation that the port wine notes would work well with a cigar designed to go with wine. He was not wrong about this assessment. While this wasn’t my absolute favorite pairing out of the four, it was a close second and I wouldn’t turn it down. The smoke brought out the port wine sweetness in the Angel’s Envy and the Angel’s Envy brought out rich chocolate notes in the cigar.
This is why it is so important to use a flight of whiskeys when you are looking for the perfect pairing. While Michael was clearly correct in his theory that the wine finish in the Angel’s Envy would make for a delightful pairing, we were all surprised about how much we enjoyed the Old Fitzgerald Prime and the Four Roses Yellow Label.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl