Every once in a while Michael and I like to have folks join us for our bourbon and cigar pairings. Unfortunately Wayne Klawier was not able to join us for this one, but we were joined instead by Matt Evans and Pete Reinert. Pete is Michael’s nephew in law and Matt is the local blogger known as brownwaterguy.

For this pairing we chose El Güegüenese, or The Wise Man, from Foundation Cigar Co. This maduro corona gorda is 5 ⅝ x 46 and features San Andres Mexican Maduro wrapper and binder and filler from Condega, Esteli, and Jalapa, Nicaragua. First impressions of this cigar were of spice, cedar, tobacco earthiness, and nuttiness.

Why El Güegüenese? This cigar was named for one of the most famous plays to come out of Nicaragua, which was written in the 16th century and is still performed today during the feast of San Sebastián in Diriamba, outside of capital Managua. It is a satirical drama about deception for money and status.

Old Fitzgerald Prime

  • Michael: Smoke brought out apple in bourbon. Bourbon added chemical finish in smoke.
  • Maggie: Cigar brings out apple and baking spice in bourbon. Bourbon did not bring out favorable notes in the cigar.
  • Matt: After first pull, subtle softening of the dark fruit flavor. Heavier pulls of the cigar lead to a industrial taste on the back end of the mouth feel.
  • Pete: Cigar brings out an apple smell in the old Fitzgerald. Bitter rough taste plus it turns to a dry aftertaste later. Rank 4

Eagle Rare

  • Michael: Smoke made bourbon butter caramel. Bourbon added a bit of chocolate.
  • Maggie: Butterscotch bomb! Smoke turns bourbon to buttered caramel and green apple. Bourbon brings out faint cocoa in the smoke.
  • Matt: Buttered popcorn with an enhanced spice on the finish.
  • Pete: Cigar brings out butterscotch that stays after including with the smell of the cigar. Second drink brings more of the butterscotch flavor but not overpowering. Very good pair rank 2

Old GrandDad Bottled-in-Bond

  • Michael: Smoke and bourbon neutralize each other.
  • Maggie: Bourbon brings out grassiness in smoke and deadens it. Smoke brings out muted apple in bourbon.
  • Matt: Bourbon and cigar seemed to cancel each other out.
  • Pete: Cigar killed the the flavor of the bourbon. Made the cigar more powerful but did not change smell or taste of the cigar just enhanced it. Rank 3

Four Roses Yellow Label

  • Michael: Smoke added a nice cherry vanilla flavor to the bourbon. Bourbon added nice milk chocolate to the smoke.
  • Maggie: Smoke brings out almost a cherry cough drop flavor – like it was trying to be cherry but it wasn’t quite hitting the mark. Bourbon brings out milk chocolate in the smoke.
  • Matt: Soft vanilla extract with a hint of cherry.
  • Pete: Dark cherry smell and taste with the cigar. Started with a hint of vanilla smell with the cigar smoke that gets stronger and moves the cherry into the background more. Taste with cigar has strong vanilla. Rank 1

The Conclusion

We were divided half and half over two bourbons: Four Roses Yellow Label and Eagle Rare. Matt and I like the Eagle Rare, which surprised me because so far Eagle Rare has been a difficult bourbon to pair a cigar with. I’m ecstatic about this breakthrough. Michael and Pete liked the Four Roses Yellow Label best.

Matt had some additional thoughts about the cigar alone after the pairing: “After the tasting, I was able to focus more on the cigar. I found the flavor profile to be an earthy, dried field tobacco with a hint of smooth leather.”