Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Crows Gin

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. 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.

Crows gin

Gin used to be a typical British spirit, but over the last two decades distilleries all over the world started to make gin. You can find gin distilleries all over the world now, from Australia to the UK, from France to Singapore but also in The Philippines where a gentleman with the name Josemari Cuervo started a small batch brewery back in 2013, Crows Craft Brewery. In 2016 he also started to make gin, the first small batch craft gin in the country. The gin uses 23 botanicals, which is much more than the average gin, and out of the 23, 9 are sourced locally. Unique botanicals such as pandan leaf and calamansi, a type of lime from The Philippines, lemongrass and a local chili are used in the creation of this gin. The abv is 45%

Neat

 

The nose is strong, very herbal, almost medicinal. A lot of botanicals with a hint of liquorice. The gin has a warm mouthfeel with a bit of the bite. There is a definite citrus flavour of the calamansi and some almost coconut-like sweetness from the pandan. Complex in flavour, just a bit too strong to drink neat in my humble opinion. A cigar with a woody or earthy flavour profile would be nice. Something like a West Tampa Black Robusto for example, or a Juan Lopez No.2.

 

Gin & Tonic

 

After drinking the Crows gin neat, I couldn’t wait this gin tonic, as I expect this will be an amazing version of the quintessential gin cocktail. Normally a gin tonic doesn’t have a lot of aroma but the 23 botanicals in this gin do give me something on the nose. A milder, muted aroma of the neat version. The mouthfeel is dry, and the flavours I get are citrus, sweetness and dark liquorice with some spice. Does the added amount of botanicals make this a more complex gin & tonic? The answer to that question is yes. Or well, I am not sure if it’s the amount of botanicals used, but this is a complex cocktail. I would pair this with a medium bodied cigar with a more complex flavour pattern such as the La Ley Reserva or a well-aged Cohiba.

And now for the gin tonic recipe:

2 ounces of 60ml of Crows 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.

 

Army & Navy

The cocktail doesn’t look too appealing to be honest. A bit milky because of the home-made orgeat. On the nose this cocktail is grassy like freshly cut grass. That’s an aroma I love, I am still heartbroken that Lampe Berger discontinued the fresh grass aromatic oil. Sweetness, umami, almonds and citrus, all in a well-balanced cocktail, this is how I can describe the Army & Navy with Crows gin. There is a faint flavour and aroma from the grapefruit oil from the garnish. The lemon is quite strong, it makes this cocktail citrus forward and that is always bad news when it comes to pairing with cigars. The tart of the citrus is always hard to pair with cigars and usually the only cigars that can cut through that flavour are stronger, earthy cigars. That’s what I suggest to go with this cocktail. Even though pairing this cocktail with a cigar is less than ideal, I still recommend trying this cocktail as it’s very nice.

And now for the Army & Navy recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Crows gin
1 ounce or305ml of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¾ ounce or 22½ml of orgeat
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
garnish: grapefruit twist
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the liquids. Shake well to make sure everything is well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Inspector X

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