Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Sir Chill

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 but Mombacho no longer exists. 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.

Sir Chill

Bart Notenbaert and Jurgen Demeulemeester are two Belgian cigar lovers from Wevelgem, West Flanders. They set out on a journey around the world, looking for the finest tobacco. As BEST (Belgian Exclusive and Special Taste) creators, their mission is clear: to combine the aroma of tobacco with other flavours from all around the world to create unique drinks with ingredients from every continent. Sir Chill drinks are never boring. The tobacco plant extract is combined with a hint of vanilla, mandarin and almond. The combination of plants, fruits, nuts and spices creates a unique and complex flavour explosion that’s instantly recognisable. Vanilla from Asia, nuts from Africa, mandarins from South America and tobacco from the Dominican Republic: ingredients from all around the world come together in your glass.

Wevelgem is not far from Zwevelgem, and Zwevelgem is the home of the Vandermarliere Cigar Family, the owners of Oliva Cigars. Inspector X met Bart & Jurgen at a party of the Vandermarliere Cigar Family and fell in love with the unique gin. The original gin and the black version will both be used in a pairing article, but in this article, we try the original version first. Sir Chill Gin is unique in the world of gins. Tobacco plant extract is combined with notes of vanilla, mandarin and almond. Sir Chill Gin Black Edition is a strong, intense gin based on the same unique flavour combinations found in Sir Chill Gin. It’s a flavour explosion that develops in the mouth. This gin has a slightly higher alcohol percentage and the bottle is available in a matt black coated version to enhance the gin experience. The flavours have been specially selected and purified to create a balanced palate, so Sir Chill recommends a neutral tonic, some ice or a botanical like cedar. This is living wood that creates a fine effervescence and adds a mild woody note to your drink. It is bottled at 43% ABV.

Neat

I’m not going into this tasting blind as I have tasted the gin both neat and as a gin & tonic at the Oliva party at InterTabac in September 2023. And honestly, I fell in love instantly. If my wife wouldn’t have dragged me away from the party around midnight, I would have probably ended up really drunk as I was planning to try all 7 versions of Sir Chill. But the owners were kind enough to give me a bottle of the Black Edition for this article.

On the nose I get ethanol, this is a 43% ABV gin after all, with citrus and vanilla. The citrus reminds me of mandarin oranges. The flavour has a strong vanilla to counter the bitterness of the tobacco plant extract, there is a soft almond flavour as well. The almond makes me think of Amaretto but the almond in this gin is more subtle. The flavours are both delicate and bold at the same time. I’m a big fan of this gin, even neat. I would pair this with a stronger Connecticut Shade cigar, creamy but with body. Since I got introduced to this gin at the Oliva party, I would suggest the Oliva Connecticut Reserve Toro, although the Cuba Aliados, the re-released Oliva version, will be a great pairing as well.

Gin & Tonic

Normally a Gin & Tonic has a mild or no nose at all, but a Gin & Tonic with the Sir Chill Black Edition and a neutral Schweppes Tonic has a strong nose of vanilla. The flavour is dominated by the vanilla as well, although the almonds are on the background as well. This gin & tonic has depth, it’s a step above other gins. It is different than any other Gin I ever tried, and I tried a lot. Sir Chill is battling Foragers for the top spot on my list of favourite gins, and coincidentally, both have a link to Belgium, a country known for its beer. Pair this with an Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado and you’ll be in heaven for an hour or two.

And now for the gin tonic recipe:
2 ounces of 60ml of gin

4 ounces or 120ml of Tonic water

Fill a Collins or a Copa glass with ice. Add the gin, then the tonic and stir gently.

Blueberry Thyme Smash

I found this cocktail on the YouTube Channel of Anders Erickson. I have no idea if this is an Erickson original, or if it’s an older cocktail, but the recipe looks delicious. And the cocktail looks great with its pinkish colour.

The nose has some lemon, but that’s the only thing I smell. Now I have to put in a disclaimer, my allergies were acting up and my smell wasn’t at its best. The cocktail itself has a strong blueberry flavour with lime, but the vanilla and almond of the gin shine through as well. The thyme is at the back of the throat. It is a sweet and refreshing cocktail and I like it a lot. At first I was thinking it would be blasphemy to use this gin in a cocktail, but the combination of the vanilla and almond notes works amazingly well with the blueberries and lemon. I don’t think any other gin would work that well with this cocktail. I would pair this with a medium bodied cigar, the Oliva Serie G Churchill would be nice, but you also can’t go wrong with the Melanio Maduro.

And now for the Blueberry Thyme Smash recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Gin
¾ ounce or 22½ml of semi-rich syrup (1½ sugar to 1 water)
4 slices of lemon
15 blueberries
4-6 thyme sprigs
Add the lemon, blueberries and the syrup in a tin and muddle. Add thyme, gin and ice and start shaking. Double strain into a rocks glass with a nice ice ball. Garnish with a bundle of thyme and two blueberries.

Inspector X

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