My introduction to cigars was part of a crash course that included golf, cigars, and whiskey as part of a “team building” experience. Though that may sound like a dream day to most people, for someone who had never played golf or smoked cigars, getting up at 4:30 am to fight NYC traffic sounded more like a nightmare. The only team I wanted to be on was Team Snooze, and I had to build a strong cup of coffee to drive to the wilds of New Jersey.
Fast forward to present day, and while I still don’t play golf (or at least very well), I now find myself looking forward to both formal pairing events and casual get-togethers with friends to explore both the world of cigars and whiskey.
It seems oddly fitting that my introduction to the Rock-A-Feller® brand was at the Barclay Rex Wall Street location, and I was fortunate enough to meet their team, including Kevin Schweitzer, who had just acquired the Vintage Rockefeller Cigar Group and assumed the role of President. It’s been a few years since that day I met him, and I’m still smoking this brand, so I’m excited to feature their Gold Series for my first Pairing write up.
Visual / Pre-light Draw
Rock-A-Feller® Gold Series
Vitola: Toro 6 x 52
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí, Jalapa, and Ometepe) & Pennsylvania
Average Price: $13 USD
As both a coffee and Italian pastry lover, this cigar was visually pleasing, with a wrapper color that reminded me of the top of tiramisu or tri-color cookies from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. I had picked up this particular cigar through Craig Roth, also from Rock-A-Feller®, who had explained that its shape was due to it being box-pressed. Running my finger along its surface, it felt slightly rough, with a slight hint of oil to the touch. (I am told that the appropriate cigar term is “toothy”). Feeling a bit self-conscious, I did the “cigar squeeze” (not, apparently, an industry term, so I just made that up for myself) and it felt “appropriately” firm. I like to collect bands from cigars, so I appreciated its stylish design featuring black, white, and of course, gold.
I opted for a straight cut, but sadly, as I didn’t realize a dry draw was a thing, didn’t do that, so unfortunately can’t give you my notes on that; though I can tell you that as a whisky lover, I did “nose” it and had a sudden craving for espresso. On to the toast!
As someone who has struggled with proper toasting in the past, this cigar was quite easy for me to toast the foot almost perfectly. Notes of espresso beans and dark chocolate provided a good flavor foundation for my first sips of the Quinta Ruban.
While I’m usually a Robusto girl, since I was enjoying this on a porch in a beautiful country setting, I appreciated the Toro vitola, which generally provides a longer smoke.
The first third finish was dark cherries with a hint of black peppercorn.
Second / Final Third
To my delight, the burn continues without incident and eventually I do ash accordingly into my makeshift ashtray (my host was most definitely not a cigar smoker). The medium (literally medium versus the overpowering kind) strength continued, although the flavor began to take on creamier, almost vanilla notes that made me long for those maple cream vanilla cookies they sell at Trader Joe’s. In the final third, the dark fruit begins to return as the vanilla begins to fade, and I’m a bit sad heading into the final stretch. Part of me made a mental note to add this to my “pair with afternoon coffee” list.
At this point, I should disclose that Glenmorangie happens to be my all-time favorite Scotch brand; there isn’t an expression of theirs that I don’t like. When choosing the expression to pair, I was torn between the Lasanta and the Quinta Ruban, ultimately choosing the Quinta Ruban since it is finished in ruby Port pipes. So, not only is it a bit drier and less sweet than the Lasanta (finished in Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks), it is also a bit darker and reminds me of blood orange dark chocolate. Prior to the 2 years in the Port casks, it matures for 10 years in ex-bourbon casks, is bottled at 46% ABV, and not chill-filtered.
I was satisfied with my choice as I felt that the Port finish did a good job of both complementing the cigar’s natural flavor profile while drawing out the maple and vanilla. Smoking the Rock-A-Feller® Gold while dramming the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban helped to prevent the cloying after taste that sometimes occurs when I’ve been a bit generous on the pours for a Port finished Scotch.
This was, by far, one of my favorite cigar and Scotch pairings, and I look forward to trying additional pairings with Rock-A-Feller cigars in the future!