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Bourbon Hospitality

A Whiskey Pilgrim Finds a Kentucky Home in the Capital of Bourbon
Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
Susan Lucci, Sep/Oct 99

(continued from page 6)

Light- to medium-bodied, this smooth bourbon mixes orange, vanilla, and anise flavors with a sweet caramel nose and a long finish. The whiskey seemed to draw out the creamy, spicy sweetness of the Macanudo. It paired even better with the Padrón, the weight of their bodies being more evenly matched. The combination with the Monty was closer to neutral, although some peppery notes seemed to arise. The Fuente overpowered the bourbon.

A sweet, flavorful bourbon with a strong charcoal- and-wood character and hints of pear and anise; its nose is sweet and the finish long. Blanton's paired extremely well with the Macanudo and the Padrón, which sang with the wood of the bourbon. The Monty reacted badly to the whiskey, but the Blanton's brought out molasses notes in the Fuente.

The solidly medium-bodied Maker's shows orange, vanilla and caramel flavor, with a sweetness informed by molasses and maple sugar. The woody finish is zesty and effervescent. The light Macanudo faltered next to the bourbon, but the other three cigars made a very impressive pairing with Maker's. The Padrón tasted even sweeter in that context, the Monty balanced well, and the Fuente seemed more leathery and full-bodied.

This smooth, sweet bourbon exhibits maple candy, cherry, vanilla and caramel with a meaty character, smacking of peat or tobacco. Dilution with water is recommended to unleash its entire flavor profile. The Woodford overpowered the Macanudo, making it seem papery, but matched well with the other cigars. It showed off the woodiness of the Padrón and brought out the cocoa in the Monty. The Fuente helped the Woodford, but the bourbon had a neutral effect on that cigar.

A huge, smooth, complex bourbon, Rare Breed shows orange, caramel, licorice, maple and floral characters, with a long, sweet finish. The Macanudo seemed to disappear next to the Wild Turkey's flavor profile. The Padrón and Monty were neutral partners with the bourbon, the latter cigar gaining some toastiness but giving the whiskey a bite. The Fuente was a near-perfect match, enhancing the Rare Breed as the bourbon returned the compliment.

A high-octane fuel at 125 proof, Booker's nevertheless has orange, vanilla, leather, pecan, honey and cherry charms that easily stand up to the alcohol. It cries out, however, to be diluted. The Macanudo was overwhelmed by its power and intensity. Booker's also proved too much for the Padrón. When paired with the Monty, it was at its best, pulling flavors from the cigar that weren't apparent before. The Fuente weighed in well, with its equal balance of full flavor.

At 20 years old, Van Winkle is the senior citizen of the bunch (as much as five times as old as some of the others). Possibly an acquired taste, its preponderance of woody, smoky, almond and cherry tastes are alluring to some, but off-putting to others, who detect a musty, tannic quality. It matched poorly with the Macanudo, easily outrunning the cigar. The Padrón was a neutral partner. With the Monty, it matched well, finding cocoa and cedar qualities previously downplayed in the cigar. The Fuente was a well-balanced match.

The 1999 Kentucky Bourbon Festival will be held September 15 to 19. Contact the Bardstown Tourist Center (800) 638-4877) for information.

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