Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Bombay Sapphire

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 has the Diplomatico series. 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 gin, rum, vodka and liquors, and bottle whisky. They were kind enough to sponsor Cigar Inspector with samples so we can write about pairings.

Bombay Sapphire

Bombay Sapphire was launched in 1986 in the UK but in 1997 the Bacardi group acquired the brand from competitor Diageo. The name is inspired on the gin and tonic popularised by the Royal Indian Armed Forces during the British Raj in colonial India; “Bombay” refers to the Indian city and “Sapphire” refers to the violet-blue Star of Bombay which was mined from British Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Bombay Sapphire is marketed in a flat-sided, sapphire-coloured bottle that bears a picture of Queen Victoria on the label

The flavouring of the drink comes from a recipe of ten ingredients: almond, lemon peel, liquorice, juniper berries, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia, cubeb, and grains of paradise. Alcohol brought in from another supplier is evaporated three times using a carter head still, and the alcohol vapours are passed through a mesh/basket containing the ten botanicals to gain flavour and aroma. This is felt to give the gin a lighter, more floral taste compared to gins created using a copper pot still. Water from Lake Vyrnwy is added to bring the strength of Bombay Sapphire down to 40.0% (UK, the Nordics, several continental European markets, Canada and Australia). The 47.0% version is the standard for sale at duty-free stores in all markets.


The nose is strong, lots of ethanol with some citrus and some juniper and floral notes. The nose is bright. The gin is quite oily, with a spicy citrus flavour. There is an earthy floral flavour while the juniper plays a role on the background. This is quite a pleasant gin, not too strong in juniper, and well balanced. I’d pair this with a medium bodied cigar, something not to sweet. No Maduro cigar for example, but also no Connecticut Shade. But a Perdomo Lot 23 Habano, Oliva series G, La Galera Habano, things like that.

Gin & Tonic

The nose has some juniper. The citrus is enhanced by the tonic, while the spice is mellower. The juniper is more outspoken with more sweetness. I can understand why this is the go-to gin for a lot of bars and restaurants when it comes to gin & tonic. A sweet Sobremesa Brulee would be nice, or another creamy cigar as well as stronger cigars. This version of the gin & tonic is very versatile, very cigar friendly.

And now for the gin tonic recipe:
2 ounces of 60ml of gin
4 ounces or 120ml of Tonic water
Fill a highball or Collins glass with ice. Add the gin, then the tonic and stir gently.

Amber Dream

The Amber dream is a Gin based cocktail made with yellow Chartreuse, dry vermouth and a dash of orange bitters. It is a spirit forward cocktail and all four ingredients contain alcohol. It’s almost like a martini with some Chartreuse and based on that, I don’t think it’s up my alley. But fans of a martini or negroni might like it.

The nose has some orange from the garnish and herbs from the Chartreuse. The herbal fragrances of the Chartreuse shine through. The mouthfeel is dry, that must be the dry vermouth. It’s not as bad as I expected it to be, but it’s still not the kind of cocktail I enjoy. The slight citrus from the gin really shines through, but the juniper is overshadowed by the herbs and botanicals from the Chartreuse. It is an interesting cocktail and I would pair it with a woody cigar such as the Cohiba robusto, or a La Preferida 652. Maybe a nice Tatuaje.

And now for the Amber Dream recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Gin
¼ ounce or 7½ml of Yellow Chartreuse
1 ounce or 30ml of Dry vermouth
Dash of orange bitters
Add the spirits in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake and double strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass. Garnish the drink with a flamed orange peel.

Verdant Lady

The nose is minty from the garnish and herbal from the botanicals in the gin and the herbs in the Chartreuse. The lime is not present in the nose. But the lime is in the flavour, minty, herbal and tart. This cocktail is simple to make but it delivers. Complex and sophisticated, yet balanced and easy to make.

I would pair this with a mild to medium bodied cigar. Nothing too heavy as that will overpower the subtilities of this cocktail. Sobremesa Brulee, EPC New Wave Belicoso, Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente Natural, Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure #2, cigars in that category.

And now for the gin Verdant Lady recipe:
1½ ounces of 45ml of gin
½ ounce or 15ml of Lime juice, freshly squeezed
¼ ounce or 7½ml of simple syrup
1/6 ounce or 5ml of Green Chartreuse
4 large mint leaves
Pour all ingredients in a shaker with plenty of ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Double strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a mint sprig.

Inspector X

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