Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Joseph Guy V.S.

Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Joseph Guy V.S.
Date: October 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.

Joseph Guy V.S.

If you never heard of this cognac, you’re probably not Dutch. This is a cognac made especially for the Dutch market. The Dutch are known to be thrifty, and somewhere in the early 1960s a Dutchman contacted a French cognac maker to develop a cognac with a price point that was interesting for the Dutch market. Within a decade after its 1965 inception, Joseph Guy was the bestselling cognac in The Netherlands and still is until this day. Although I hope that the Dutch learned that premium products have a premium price, and often it is worth paying a little extra more for quality. (edit: I wrote this comment before trying the cognac, and after tasting the cocktails I am retracting these words. This is a perfect cognac for cocktails, not the best to drink neat, but an affordable option for cocktails where it won’t disappoint. The Dutch are on to something here.)

Neat

As always, I try this in a Glencairn glass first. I actually prefer cognac in a Glencairn over a balloon anyway as the shape of the glass, with the smaller opening, concentrates the aromas which has positive effect on the booze. The colour of the cognac is beautiful amber and the nose is rich, with strong wood and floral aromas. It is very promising. There is a bit of a bite and the cognac isn’t rounded but it has a lot of flavour. Oak and earthy vegetable flavours with a complex and long lasting finish of caramel and vanilla. Because of the bite I would suggest a medium plus cigar, if the cognac was a bit smoother, I would have even suggested something mild to medium. Now I’d say any medium plus Tatuaje would be a great match, or a Bolivar from Cuba.

Cognac Margarita

A riff on a Margarita, but just looking at the recipe it must be a strong one. It has 5 ounces of alcohol and 3 ounces of juice. At first, I thought it was for two cocktails, but no, apparently its for one. And in that case, it won’t fit in a normal cocktail glass so I broke out my large highball glasses. I did also see other recipes with less alcohol, but they called for specific cognacs and different types of tequila instead of the Silver tequila required for this cocktail. So let’s try it.

The funky aroma from the tequila dominates the nose, combined with the sour aromas of the sweet & sour mix. You can taste the potency of this drink in the first sip. The funky earthy tequila flavours shine through, but balanced with the orange from the triple sec, the woody aromas of the cognac and the sweetness and tart of the sweet & sour mix. Perfectly balanced, get me three of these and I’ll be knocked out. This will go well with anything over a medium bodied cigar, something with a little pepper and earthy notes. My Father Le Bijou 1922 for example. A thicker Montecristo from Cuba would also work.

And now for the Cognac Margarita recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Joseph Guy VS Cognac
1½ ounce or 45ml of Tequila
1½ ounce or 45ml of Triple Sec
3 ounces or 90ml of Sweet & Sour Mix
garnish: ¼ lime
Shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a highball glass. Garnish with the ¼ lime.

Brandy Old Fashioned

A riff on the classic Old Fashioned, one of the oldest known cocktails and still very popular. Maybe because it’s easy to make, but most of all, because it’s tasty. Where the classic Old Fashioned is made with whisky, there are riffs with almost any other hard liquor, this is the Brandy Old Fashioned.

Of course the nose is dominated by orange, as it should be with an Old Fashioned. There is also a slight wood in the nose. The cocktail is sweet, yet the lime & lemon soda provides carbonisation aka that fizzy mouthfeel. I used Sprite by the way. The sweetness has a bit of a cherry taste to it and there is also a hint of orange from the muddled orange slices. The cognac brings some warmth to the drink and depth. The bitters balance everything out. This is a nice refreshing and balanced drink and it would pair great with The Oscar Habano by Oscar Valladares or a Partagas D6 from Cuba.

And now for the Brandy Old Fashioned recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Joseph Guy VS
Lemon-lime soda to top
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 orange slices
2 brandied cherries
1 sugar cube
Garnish: orange slice.
Fill a highball glass with the bitters, orange slice, cherries and the sugar and muddle to combine. Add some ice to the glass and pour in the cognac. Top with the lemon-lime soda or club soda and stir to chill. Garnish with a skewered cherry and an orange slice.

Inspector X

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