Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Nikka Coffey 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.

Nikka Coffey Gin

Nikka started with the Coffey series in the mid 2010’s, first with two whiskies, the Nikka Coffey Grain and the Nikka Coffey Single Malt. I drank the Coffey Grain when a friend brought a bottle over and loved it. But both him and me thought it had something to do with coffee. But no, the name refers to the Coffey still that Nikka uses to create these whiskies. Because of the success, Nikka expanded the Coffey range with vodka and gin in 2017. I already wrote about the Nikka Coffey Vodka, now it’s time for the Gin. I’ll get a bottle of Coffey Grain whisky too soon.

Coffey Gin’s complexity is achieved through the perfect balance between 11 selected botanicals and the silky texture of Coffey distillates. The bright and zesty aroma originating from four kinds of Japanese citruses, Yuzu, Kabosu, Amanatsu and Shequasar, compliments the traditional gin botanicals of juniper berries, angelica, coriander seeds, lemon and orange peels.

Neat

The nose is milder, more subtle and delicate than from the average London Dry Gin with hints of juniper, lime, lemon, orange and yuzu. Floral as well with some ethanol. There is quite some citrus in this gin, with some white pepper on a base of corn. Juniper plays a role too, but only as support and not on the forefront like in many other gins. If you drink this gin neat, go for an earthy cigar like the Montecristo #2, or the Pledge Prequel.

Gin & Tonic

There is zero aroma to this cocktail, but that is not uncommon for a gin & tonic. The tonic water has no aroma and the little aroma there would be is killed by the ice. What I like about gin & tonic is that tonic doesn’t water down gin but adds a little texture. And that’s the case here too. Very fresh with mostly yuzu citrus. Soft, smooth, subtle, those are words that I would use to describe this gin & tonic version. That’s why I would pair this with a mild to medium cigar. A good creamy such as the Ashton Corona, Diamond Crown Torpedo No.8, Davidoff Signature or the Montecristo #5 if you prefer a Cuban cigar.

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.

Old Maid

The Old Maid was invented in 2004 by cocktail-connoisseur Sam Ross in New York City. His method of creating drinks where the base liquor was up to the drinker’s discretion while preserving the intended taste profile ushered in a new era of cocktail concoctions and funky formulas that since has proven timeless and transcendent in both style and taste.

The lime, the mint and the cucumber take over the nose of this very refreshing concoction. This is a perfect summer drink, sweet and tart, refreshing with a hint of the botanicals of the gin. I do think that this cocktail works better with a stronger gin, such as a London Dry style gin as the gin kind of stays hidden behind the lime now. And the lime causes me to think about a stronger cigar to pair with this cocktail due to the tart and acidity. Something with a nice Nicaraguan kick like the Cain F.

And now for the Old Maid recipe:
3 slices of cucumber
7 mint leaves
2 ounces or 60ml of Gin
1 ounce or 30ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
¾  ounce or 22½ml of Simple Syrup
Garnish: cucumber slice and a mint leaf
Muddle cucumber and mint gently at the base of the shaker. Combine all measured ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake for 15 seconds. Double-strain into your glass with ice. Top with garnish.

Sake Grapefruit

I used this cocktail before, when I did my Sake article but since I made it with Nikka Coffey Gin, I use this text here again. This cocktail is made with sake, grapefruit juice, gin, and a touch of ginger, this elegant sake cocktail is super easy to make and incredibly refreshing. Not to mention, it looks gorgeous! It smells amazing too, like the outdoors. Rosemary is the strongest aroma, with a hint of the nutmeg and grapefruit supported by the botanicals from the Nikka Coffey Gin.

The flavour is more bitter than you would think from the nose. That must be the grapefruit. The grapefruit and the gin overpower the sake, I can only taste a little bit of melon. The ginger gives the cocktail some warmth and a little kick. This cocktail needs an earthy cigar, medium to full bodied.

And now for the Sake Grapefruit recipe (this recipe makes two cocktails):

3 oz or 90ml of Sake
2½ oz or 75ml of Gin

3 oz or 90ml of Grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
Splash of sparkling water
Pinch of nutmeg
Fresh rosemary & slice of grapefruit as garnish.
Put the liquids minus the sparkling water, ginger and nutmeg in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into two rocks glasses, add a splash of sparkling water and garnish with the grapefruit slice and the rosemary.

Inspector X

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