We are digging out of a crazy springtime snow storm here in Louisville, and this is the first day it has been sunny and bearable in over a week. The snow is still melting from the trees. But it is still springtime, and what better way to celebrate than with a cigar and a flight of bourbons.

The Cigar – Caldwell Savages Corona Extra 6×46

For this pairing I chose a Caldwell Savages. I have to admit I passed over this cigar several times because of the band. It’s not that the artwork is bad, mind you. It’s a really interesting and fun image of a steam-punk guy. From my own biases I just wasn’t taking it as seriously as I should have. Typically in my experience the bands that are kind of “out there” are distracting from something disappointing. Turns out I had it all wrong, at least in this case. The art was commissioned by Caldwell from an Italian artist named PixelPancho, and I love the idea of the whiskey and cigar communities supporting artists and showcasing their work.

This cigar does not appear on Caldwell’s website, so information of its origins has to come from Halfwheel: “[At the 2016 ICPCR show] Caldwell rolled out Savages, an extension to the Long Live the King Line with a habano wrapper as the only disclosed aspect of the blend. The new line was limited to existing Caldwell accounts and only on the first day of the show, but the limits didn’t prove to be a limitation as the cigar sold out on the first day.”

This is a nicely constructed cigar with the tiniest pigtail on the cap. It was very firm but it didn’t hinder the smoking experience. Upon lighting there were notes of cedar, pepper, and rye grass, and the cedar became the predominant note after a few minutes. It’s worth noting that I typically have burning issues when the weather is cold like today (44°) but this burned beautifully and stayed lit the whole time, even as I left it sitting to take notes.

The Bourbons

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength 133.3°

Nose – Leather, tobacco, sweet caramel apple

Palate – Sweet caramel apple, buttery

Together – The cigar made the bourbon a little hot but not overly so, and it brought out the sweetness of the bourbon as well as a hint of apple. The bourbon brought out a surprising chocolate note in the cigar.

Whiskey Row Bourbon, Batch 003 88°

Nose – Sweet caramel corn

Palate – Sweet corn and a hint of spice

Together – The cigar brings out rich buttery notes in the bourbon. The bourbon brings out a nice grassiness in the smoke.

Four Roses Yellow Label 80°

Nose – Green apple and baking spice

Palate – Green apple and baking spice

Together – The cigar brings out sweetness in the bourbon with a hint of red ripe cherries. The bourbon brings out cedar and hay in the smoke.

The Verdict

I had a hard time choosing a favorite in this lineup. Each combination had its own merits. It’s worth noting that my standard tasting notes for these bourbons could be different because of the effect of the weather, so if you see tasting notes in other pairing articles that I have written that’s what’s going on there. If I were forced to choose a winner I would say the Maker’s Mark, but again each of these were really good choices.

Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl