Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Los Danzantes Reposado Mezcal

Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Los Danzantes Reposado Mezcal
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. 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.

Los Danzantes Reposado

Mezcal – sometimes spelled mescal, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli which means “oven-cooked agave”, from metl and ixcalli  Traditionally the word “mezcal” has been used generally in Mexico for all agave spirits and it continues to be used for many agave spirits whether these spirits have been legally certified as “mezcal” or not, and it is also considered a drink of artisan origin. 

The origin of mezcal is tied to the introduction of distillation technology from Filipino immigrants to modern day Mexico. The immigrants were used to distill coconut liquor and the natives started to use the process to distil agave. In the 21st century, mezcal is still made from the heart of the agave plant, called the piña, in much the same way as it was 200 years ago. Sometimes you see a worm or scorpion in a bottle, that is an old tradition to prove that the ABV was over 40%. Under 40% the dead animal would deteriorate.

Los Danzantes Reposado is made from espadín agave harvested in the central valley of Oaxaca. The production is entirely hand crafted and artisanal. The distillate is then rested for 11 months, first in American oak ex-bourbon barrels and 6 months in French oak casks to produce a sweet, smoky and earthy mezcal. Los Danzantes is made at the Los Danzantes distillery in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca. The mezcals are branded as Los Nahuales in the USA due to trademark issues, and they go by Los Danzantes just about everywhere else. Though the mezcaleros behind this mezcal have been making it for generations, the Los Danzantes brand has been around since 1997. The Reposado has an ABV of 43%

Neat

A Glencairn glass is the best option when trying new spirits die to the tulip shape. The glassware can make a huge difference. There is vanilla in the nose, with ethanol, vegetal notes of the agave. I was expecting some smoke, but there isn’t any on the nose. The flavour is definitely smoky though, spicy too. But not aggressive, quite smooth actually and great for sipping. With all I read about Mezcal, that was the last thing I expected. The smoke is warm, there is a hint of citrus and a bit of vanilla sweetness. A nice medium bodied cigar would be nice, and to keep the Mexican theme, why not a Casa Turrent? Or something with a Mexican San Andres wrapper?

Honey & Smoke Mezcal

On the nose this is ginger and lime, with a little smoke. All quite muted due to the ice, The sweetness of the honey, the freshness of the lime, the spice of the ginger and the smoke of the mezcal all work together like they are part of one big happy family. This is one hell of a balanced cocktail while each of the components is still recognizable. Wow, every sip I take blows me away, this is amazing. And even though the lime is definitely playing a part, I see plenty of potential of pairing this with a cocktail. Something stronger, Nicaraguan with earthy or peppery notes. The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial, Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco or the Hamlet 25 years. Most of the Asylum cigars would work really well too, if you love bigger ring gauges.

And now for the Honey & Smoke Mezcal recipe:
1 ounce or 30ml of honey syrup
2 ounces of 60ml of Los Danzantes Reposado
2 ounces or 60ml of Ginger beer
½ ounce of 15ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed

Pour the honey syrup, mezcal and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled. Strain into a double rocks glass over fresh ice and top off with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime slice.

Island Mango Mezcal Breeze

Smoky mango is what I get on the nose, mostly mango with a little bit of smoke. The citrus and tequila isn’t noticeable on the nose at all. The lemon overpowers the lime and is quite dominant with a smoky background and vegetable notes from the agave in both the mezcal and the tequila. It is refreshing with a slight peppery aftertaste because of the chili powder. The mango is there as well, but the lime and lemon bring out the sour part of the mango instead of the sweetness. This cocktail is a little too tart and it throws off the balance a bit. I suggest using a little less of lime and lemon to create a more balanced cocktail for a better pairing with a cigar. With this recipe, I would go for a strong earthy and peppery cigar to stand up against the citrus.

And now for the Island Mango Mezcal Breeze recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of fresh mango juice
½ ounce of 15ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed

½ ounce of 15ml of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1½ ounce or 45ml of Los Danzantes Reposado Mezcal
1½ ounce or 45ml of Silver Tequila
pinch of chili powder
Club Soda to top
Coat the rim of a rocks glass in salt. Combine the mango juice, lemon juice, lime juice, mezcal, tequila and chili powder in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into your prepared glass on fresh ice. Top with club soda.

 Sweet & Spicy Cheermaster Cocktail

There isn’t much on the nose and that’s due to the club soda floating on top and the ice. I only get some smoke and ginger. The ginger is there, with some tart from the lemon and smoke from the mezcal. The cranberry juice and honey provide the right amount of sweetness. To be honest, I forgot the honey ginger syrup at first, once I remade the cocktail the difference between the two drinks is amazing. That ounce of honey ginger syrup changes the drink completely, and in a positive way.  The balance between sweet, tart, smoke and spice is close to perfect. The tequila delivers the body of the cocktail and I would pair this with a medium bodied smoke, preferably with a woody profile. I paired it with a Gurkha Real, not my favourite cigar but it played nice with this cocktail. A Jas Sum Kral Red Night Robusto would be a great pairing as well, just like a Partagas D4, Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill or a Bolivar Royal Corona. A nice Dominican like the Buffalo Ten would work too, or a Eiroa the first 20 years from Honduras.

And now for the Sweet & Spicy Cheermaster Cocktail recipe:
1½ ounce or 45ml of Tequila
½ ounce or 15ml of Mezcal
½ ounce or 15ml of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2½ ounces or 75ml of cranberry juice (can be substituted for pomegranate juice)
1 ounce or 30ml of Honey Ginger Syrup
Club Soda to top.
Coat the rim of a rocks glass in salt. Combine the honey ginger syrup, tequila, mezcal, lemon juice and cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with club soda.

 Inspector X

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