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2013 Big Smoke Sunday Seminars—Dickel and Davidoff

Andrew Nagy
Posted: November 14, 2013

Ever had the good fortune to taste a 15-year-old, single-barrel George Dickel Tennessee Whisky before? The answer is most certainly no, you haven't, because such a whiskey expression was not available to most of the public until it was poured for the 500 eager audience members who attended Sunday's Big Smoke cigar and spirits pairing seminar.

Per tradition, the pairing seminar concluded the 2013 Big Smoke Las Vegas weekend and was led by Cigar Aficionado's senior features editor and spirits guru Jack Bettridge. Titled Tennessee Two-Step, the seminar was a little different compared to year's past in that it focused on one spirits brand, Tennessee-based George Dickel.

Joining Bettridge onstage was Dickel brand ambassador Douglas Kragel, who brought along, in addition to the rare single-barrel whiskey, four whiskeys from the prestigious Dickel portfolio for the audience to sip: George Dickel Rye, No. 8, No. 12, and Barrel Select.

But what's a cigar pairing without cigars? This year's seminar smokes were provided by Davidoff and included the all-Dominican Puro d'Oro Magnificos and the 91-point scoring Davidoff Nicaragua Robusto, rolled entirely from Nicaraguan tobaccos. Brand ambassador Jeff Stone, who also was on the panel, said he chose these particular cigars because he felt they offered vastly different taste experiences due to their differing tobacco origins.


Click Image to Enlarge


With an array of George Dickel Tennessee Whisky bottles in front of them, Cigar Aficionado's Jack Bettridge, Douglas Kragel of George Dickel and Jeff Stone of Davidoff led the Big Smoke crowd on a whirlwind tasting paring the whiskeys with cigars from Davidoff.

Photos by David Becker/Getty Images


Douglas Kragel explained how George Dickel Tennessee Whisky is made, and how it pairs with a variety of cigars.


Davidoff ambassador Jeff Stone spoke about pairing Davidoff Nicaragua and Davidoff Puro d'Oro with the whiskeys from George Dickel.


Cigar Aficionado's spirits guru, senior features editor Jack Bettridge, closed out the show with a seminar on George Dickel Tennessee Whisky and Davidoff cigars.


Mike Nelson ponders the pairing qualities of the cigars and whisky.


The final Big Smoke seminar allowed hundreds of cigar lovers to pair fine cigars with savory whisky.

The panel's discussion covered a broad range of cigar- and whiskey-related topics: the importance of terroir in cigars and whiskey, a brief primer on rye's comeback, tips on the best way to drink whiskey, and, of course, in-depth descriptions of how all the products lit up or drank were created. As the talk occurred, audience members interjected questions, too, which gave the seminar a cozy feeling, as if it was taking place in a giant den or man cave.

Some of the tips Kragel offered to enjoy your whiskey included the importance of using a clean glass. He also recommended first tasting the whiskey neat and "then add an ice cube, preferably one of those large ones you may have seen in a cocktail bar. Those won't melt as fast as small cubes, so you will be able to experience the whiskey's full complexity."

While many mistakenly believe Tennessee whiskey is a Bourbon, it is actually a separate whiskey category, Kragel said.

"There's only three Tennessee whisky producers in the state at the moment. But we don't need to name the other major one right now..." Kragel joked, bringing smiles to the audiences' faces.

The primary difference between the Bourbon and Tennessee whisky, he continued, is that Tennessee whisky is filtered through maple-charcoal. Kragel described Dickel's famous maple-charcoal filtration process in great detail, explaining how it's first chilled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit before it is poured into a large vat packed with maple-charcoal that is made at the company's Tullahoma, Tennessee, facility. This charcoal filtration removes any non-essential fatty acids and oils, resulting in a smoother whiskey.

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