Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Don Q Cristal

Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Don Q Cristal
Date: January 2023
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. 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.

Don Q Cristal

Don Q Cristal is a clear rum. But unlike most other clear rums Don Q uses a multiple distillation system resulting in a cleaner, more refined and delicate rum according to the Don Q website. The rum is than aged in White Oak barrels for somewhere between 18 months and 5 years. The carbon filtration takes away the colour before bottling and alcohol experts claim that this Don Q Cristal is so crips that you can use it instead of vodka in most cocktails.


I first tried the Don Q Cristal neat to get a taste of the base spirit. For this I used a Glencairn glass. And on the nose, I get alcohol with lemon. I see that people can mistake this for vodka. I’m starting to wonder if the carbon filtering took away more than just colour, but also some flavour and aroma. In the flavour I taste banana, fruit and liquorice with a bit of alcohol. There is a slight minty freshness in the aftertaste but I would not opt to drink this rum as a sipping rum. It is a good rum for mixing though, perfect for cocktails but as a sipping rum it lacks character. And because the rum is not outspoken at all it will go well with any cigar.


Is this the most famous rum cocktail? Or only the most famous white rum cocktail? In any case, it’s the cocktail I make whenever I try a new white rum. It’s my baseline for white rums. On the nose I only get the lime from the garnish but that’s no surprise. A Mojito is served so cold that it kills all the aroma. But it doesn’t kill the flavour. It mutes the tard of the lime though, with the help of the mint and simple syrup. The melon and banana from the Don Q Cristal flavour profile are still noticeable on the background. This is a nice, refreshing summer cocktail but due to the strong lime taste not a great match with cigars. Which is both ironical and unfortunate as the best rums and the best cigars all come from the same geographical areas and you’d expect them to play well together but the lime disturbs that peace. I would recommend to paid this with a strong cigar with bold flavours to stand up against that lime. Dunbarton’s Umbagog, an Alec Bradley Prensado, a El Gueguense from Foundation Cigar Company, those kinds of cigars.

And now for the Mojito recipe:
3 mint leaves
½ ounce or 15ml of simple syrup

2 ounces or 60ml of Don Q Cristal
¾ ounce or 22½ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
Club Soda
Garnish: lime wheel and mint sprig
Lightly muddle the mind with the simple syrup in a shaker. Add the lime juice, Don Q Cristal and ice and shake. Strain into a highball glass over ice, preferably pebble ice. Top with club soda.


Piña Colada

If you’re like me, you’ll start humming Rupert Holmes biggest hit when someone mentions a Piña Colada. My mind automatically goes to “if you like Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain”. But did you know that the title of that song isn’t Piña Colada but Escape? I didn’t until I was writing this article. And it turns out that the original lyrics didn’t even have Piña Colada in it, that Holmes was expected to sing Humphrey Bogart, but changed it to the first tropical drink he could think of when he was recording the song. I made a Piña Colada with the Don Q Cristal.

On the nose I get nothing from the cocktails but everything from the garnish and that’s pineapple. That’s because of the ice in the cocktail. The cocktail requires pebbled ice, and I didn’t have that so I took some normal sized cubes, my Lewis bag and mallet. I smashed those cubes up to smaller pieces, but stopped before it turned into crushed ice. The cocktail tastes delicious with the thick creamy texture and the flavour of lime, coconut and pineapple. The rum delivers hints of banana and alcohol. This is a sweet summer drink and nothing like any other cocktail I wrote about for Cigar Inspector. You can pair this with a medium or full bodied cigar with woody, nutty, peppery or earthy notes. Anything but sweet or creamy will go well with this cocktail.

And now for the Piña Colada recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Don Q Cristal
1½ ounce or 45ml of Pineapple juice
1½ ounce or 45ml of Cream of Coconut (not coconut cream, that’s different)

½ ounce or 25ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
Garnish: pineapple wedge and pineapple leaf
Add the rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and lime juice in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds. Strain in a hurricane glass over pebble ice and garnish with a pineapple wedge and pineapple leaf.


Inspector X

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