Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Aalborgs Akvavit

Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Aalborgs Akvavit
Date: May 2024
Author: Inspector X

Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. Mombacho used to have the Diplomatico series but Mombacho no longer exists. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce whisky, gin, rum, vodka and liquors.

Aalborg Jubilaeums

If you never heard of Aquavit, don’t be ashamed. I didn’t know about it until a Norwegian cigar importer gave me a shot at a tradeshow in September of 2022. And honestly, I did not like the drink at all. But ever since I hear more and more people talking about Aquavit, so I decided to give it another go and got myself a bottle of this Aalborg Jubilaeums Aquavit. And of course, after purchasing this bottle and diving into the history of Aquavit for this article, I found out that Swedish Aquavit is a better option for someone who’s new into the world of this spirit, and Danish versions are rougher. That’s because the Swedish mature the herbs and spices before using them in the spirit, and the Danish don’t. Norwegian versions are often aged in ex-Sherry casks.

But first, what is Aquavit? Aquavit is a strong spirit originating in the Nordic countries, at least 37.5% in the alcohol strength department, with a dominant taste of caraway, dill, or both. Aquavit (or Akvavit), literally translated as “water of life”, is a traditional pale grape or grain spirit first distilled centuries ago in the pastoral regions of Northern Italy, France, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark. T

Aalborg Jubilaeums, jubilaeums meaning ‘jubilee’, was created in 1946 to honour of Isidor Henius, the creator of Aalborg Taffel Akvavit, for the 100th birthday of the brand. It is bottles at 42% ABV. The recipe for classic Aalborg Taffel Akvavit has been the same for more than 150 years and its consistent quality has confirmed Akavavits position as Denmark’s national drink. The Danish poet Jørgen Vibe wrote: “Aalborg Taffel Akvavit lights the fires of delight. And keeps our spirits burning bright”.

Neat

The light golden spirit has an aroma of citrus, dark liquorice and a hint of dill. The akvavit has an orange flavour with dill and a warming anise. This is so much better than the akvavit I tried in September 2022. The finish has a little spice over the herbs. This will go well with a nice Maduro cigar such as the Lampert 1593, although a cigar with an Ecuador Habano wrapper (for example: Oliva V Melanio or Flor de Las Antillas) will work well too.

Winter Basil Smash

While I was browsing YouTube, I saw this recipe on the channel of The Educated Barfly, one of the cocktail channels I regularly visit on YouTube (others are Steve the Bartender, Anders Erickson, How to Drink, and for Tiki cocktail inspiration, I like to watch Make & Drink).

The citrus in the aroma is enhanced by the lemon but the 10 muddled basil leaves make their way up in the nose as well. This drink is very refreshing with a warming and slight spicy finish. The citrus is strong but not too strong, the basil adds to the herbal flavours of the akvavit. The citrus changed from orange to lemon due to the lemon juice. This needs a full bodied cigar, something like a Liga Privada, Muestra de Saka, OpusX or one of the many Tatuaje blends.

And now for the Winter Basil Smash recipe:

2 ounce or 60 ml of Aquavit
1 ounce or 30 ml of Lemon juice, freshly squeezed

¾ ounce or 22½ml of Simple syrup
8 to 10 basil leaves

Put
all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and then muddle to release the flavour from the basil leaves. Then shake with ice and double strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.

Cranberry & Aquavit Tonic

This wintery cocktail combines the herbal spirit aquavit with cranberry, lime, and tonic water. It’s refreshing, bubbly, and an approachable way to try aquavit (akvavit) for the first time.

This wintery cocktail combines the herbal spirit aquavit with cranberry, lime, and tonic water. It’s refreshing, bubbly, and an approachable way to try aquavit (akvavit) for the first time.

The nose is dominated by the mint from the garnish. The sweetness from the cranberries marries well with the citrus from the lime and the akvavit, combines with the herbal essences from the spirit. Slightly tart, slightly sweet, full flavour. I paired this with an Aganorsa Leaf Rare Leaf and enjoyed it very much. A medium bodied cigar with some woody notes works fantastic. This will go well with a Cohiba Robusto as well, if you can find those.

And now for the Cranberry & Aquavit Tonic recipe:

2 ounces or 60ml of Aquavit
2 ounces or 60ml of Cranberry Juice
½ ounce or 15ml of
Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
Tonic water
Fill a Collins glass with ice. Pour the Aquavit and the juices over the ice and top with the Tonic water. Stir gently to combine and garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime wheel.

Inspector X

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