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James Suckling

Habanos y Tequila: A Good Marriage

Posted: Mar 3, 2010 2:15pm ET
I must admit that I don’t think very often about Tequila when I am looking for something to drink with my cigar. I usually grab a glass of rum or Port or Champagne, or even red wine or beer. But Tequila?

That’s why I found a blind tasting of two cigars—Montecristo No. 2 and Partagas Serie D No. 4—with two Añejo and two Extra Añejo Tequilas fascinating.  The tasting was done during a seminar last week at the XII Festival Habano. About 200 people packed into the meeting room. Each seat had four glasses of Tequila in brandy snifters and two unbanded cigars.

We first lit up the torpedo, and smoked the balanced and flavorful cigar while tasting the two Añejos. I found the first tequila showed lots of citrus and white pepper character with saltiness on the nose. It was very sweet and round with an almost candied flavor. It was too sweet for me. And it sugar coated the smoke.

The second Tequila showed more vanilla and caramel on the nose and palate, but it was drier, rounder and softer. It was caressing on the palate and seemed delicious with the robusto, preparing your palate for every puff.
Surprisingly, the group preferred the sweet Tequila.  I really couldn’t understand it. But I guess people in general prefer sweet things. And I think Cubans in particular like postres, or desserts. The group’s preferred Tequila was the Leticia Hermosillo Ravelero Añjeo. I preferred the San Nicolas Tequila Espolon Añejo.

It was interesting that the top Cuban sommeliers in the group sided with me on the San Nicolas Tequila. Gracias hermanos y hermanas!

We moved on to the robusto, which was surprisingly richer and spicier on the palate than the Montecristo No. 2.  The two Tequila extra añejos were better with the cigars, but I couldn’t get over how sweet one of them was. It was like drinking tequila with a huge dose of caramel and smoke. It had a sugary finish. The other extra añejo was much more balanced, with a spicy, lightly toasted wood and dried herb character that reminded me of an aged cigar. It was so balanced with subtle complexity.

My preferred Tequila was the Herradura Selección Suprema Extra Añejo. This is a fine-aged tequila with all the complexity of a great single malt Scotch. The sugar-coated aged Tequila was from the same house as the group preferred Añejo—Leticia Hermosillo Ravelero Extra Añejo.

I was asked by the panel to name the robusto. I thought it was a Partagas Serie D No. 4 or the Bolivar Royal Corona. I opted for the later because the cigar seemed rather strong. It was the Partagas.

I thought maybe I didn’t really understand what great Tequila was supposed to be considering the group voted for the sweet Añejo and Extra Añejo. Besides, I remember some of the worst hangovers of my life with Tequila! Granted it was drinking margaritas, instead of fine aged ones.

But the night after the tasting, I by chance had at my table during the gala dinner a couple of producers of Tequila as well as the president, head taster and others from the Consejo Regulador del Tequila, the regulatory body for Tequila production. They told me that the drier Tequilas were their preference for cigars, as well.

During the festival the talking heads of Tequila and Habanos signed an agreement to promote and defend their unique products around the world. I think the idea and the marriage between the two works very well.

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-- Cigar Aficionado Online Staff

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