Cigars & Getting into the Spirit, by Tommy Zman

In last week’s blog I discussed my personal choices for pairing man food with cigars. Well this week, as kind of a Part Two, I thought it would be a great follow up to pair some of my favorite libations with the cigars I love… I mean you guys DO like a little bit of spirit, don’t you? Yeah, yeah, I thought so.

Before I started smoking cigars about 17 years ago, I was your typical beer swilling knuckle-dragger who didn’t know much about the finer things in life. But it was the world of premium hand rolled cigars that introduced me to the kind of drinks that make a man feel happy while keeping a smile upon his face. I first started to discover craft beers and imports that went well with my full-bodied Henry Clay. Hearty stouts and ales like Chimay, a Belgian import made by Trappist monks let me know that there was a lot more to the world of barley and hops than the self-proclaimed “king of beers”.

Premium Vodka was becoming all the rage, as the drink that once tasted like lighter fluid was now smooth and flavorful without mixing it with orange juice.  Brands like Kettle One and Grey Goose were attached to a few of my business friends via intravenous, and martinis soon became compatible playmates to my El Rey Del Mundo Flor de Llanza. One executive I hung with was severely in lust with fine Cognacs, and Remy XO would always flow like Kool Aid at a kiddie party when I broke out the premium sticks. Yeah, I was starting to really like this lifestyle and I’m sure many of you can concur.

Now scotch was something I never really drank until about ten years ago, but once I learned to appreciate the golden liquid from the Scottish Isle, the cigar smoking experience was raised to a whole new level. And now my pre-dinner Siglo is often accompanied by the sweet malted grains of MacAllans and Balvenie Doublewood. I’m not a fan at all of the petey/smoky flavored scotches, as the sherry cask aged drams are definitely more to my liking. And I tend to like a lot.

Now let’s have a candid discussion about rum. Dark rums with notes of vanilla and oak have always gone so well with an after dinner cigar, and have long been popular with the Hispanic stogie loving crowd. While I have always enjoyed a good rum, I never really found one that I completely fell for head over heels for – well, until very recently. There’s an exotic rum from the isle of Madagascar that is just making its way to the U.S. by the name of Dzama (pronounced Zama, as the D is silent). I was fortunate enough to get a tasting of a couple of their light and dark offerings, and I have NEVER experienced such flavors and complexities in a rum in all my life. I smoked an Ashton VSG during my sampling, and I honestly haven’t enjoyed a cigar and libation pairing like this in many years. This rum is beyond sublime, and trust me when I say that you have to keep your eye out for this one.

Finally, there’s Port, my dessert wine of choice. After a nice dinner I generally reach for a sweet, full-bodied maduro like Punch Grand Cru #2. And to me, NOTHING accompanies a good smoke like this than a delicious tawny port. There are many excellent ports out there like Fonseca, Sandemans, and Cockburns, but a couple Christmas’s ago, I got spoiled to death by a some friends who bought me a couple bottles of 40 year old Taylor Fladgate and 40 year old bottle of Presidential. The deep, rich caramel color and ultra-smooth complexity has made it hard for me to come back down to earth, and while being a snob is not generally my thing, I sure could get used to a steady diet of the high life!

So that’s my regimen for pairing my favorite smokes and luscious libations. So, how about sharing some of your faves and possibly some little known liquid gems that you’ve stumbled upon? I know we’d all love to hear it! Until next week, Smoke ‘em and drink ‘em cuz you gottem!

PLEASE SUPPORT Cigar Rights of America as they continue to deal with congress, the senate, and all US legislators who need to be made aware that our cigars are the best friends we know of and we will fight like hell to keep them in our lives! >>


JR Cigars Blog with the Zman

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