Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Velho Barreiro Cachaca

Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Velho Barreiro Cachaca
Date: March 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.

Velho Barreiro Cachaca

Coffee is probably the most famous beverage from Brazil, but a good second is a cocktail called Caipirinha and the main ingredient of caipirinha is a spirit called cachaca. It is made from fermented sugarcane juice, much like Madeira. Madeira is part of the Portuguese empire and it was those Portuguese that brought the distillation stills to Brazil to start distilling fermented sugarcane juice as they did back home. Just like rum, there are unaged versions for mixing and aged versions, aged in wooden barrels, to be consumed as a sipping beverage. The major difference between cachaça and rum is that rum is usually made from molasses, a by-product after a refinery boils the cane juice to extract as much sugar crystal as possible, while cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice, fermented and distilled. Some rums, in particular the rhum argicole are also made by the latter process. Cachaça is also known as Brazilian rum.

I got myself a bottle of Velho Barreiro on my last trip to the liquor store. This is a Cachaca with an ABV of 39%, column distilled and then aged for an undisclosed amount of time in large oak barrels. The brand was established in 1975 by a company called Industrias Reunidas de Bedidas Tatuzinho. There is also a black label version available, which had more time to age.

Neat

The spirit is clear, completely transparent. The aroma is strong and pungent with hints of corn, sugar and melon. The liquid tastes sweet and buttery. I wasn’t expecting the butter, but both in mouthfeel and taste it is there. There is some spice, black pepper and a mixture of cinnamon and ground cumin combined with sugar and corn. A part of me thinks about corn on the cob from the barbeque with some. I would pair this with a Brazilian cigar just to keep it Brazilian. And then my first thought is Alonso Menendez. The sweetness from the Brazilian tobacco will pair well with the Cachaca. If you can find any, any Balmoral Añejo XO would be nice as well, as those cigars utilise Brazilian tobacco as well.

Caipirinha

The caipirinha (kai-purr-REEN-yah) is the national drink of Brazil. It’s the most popular cocktail in the South American country, and everyone has their own way of making it. But the basic recipe is easy as can be. Just a lime, some sugar, ice and Cachaca. The nose is butter with corn, but there is also a hint of lime. It is not as pungent as the neat version. It is an unusual aroma for a cocktail, it smells weird my wife says. The butter and corn are not only in the nose but also in the taste, with sweetness and a hefty dose of lime. The lime makes the cocktail too tart in my humble opinion, and by using a lime you can’t control the tartness as some limes have more juice than others. I would use lime juice so you can tweak the cocktail to your preferred liking. I do understand why this cocktail is popular in Brazil, it is a very nice, refreshing cocktail, perfect for the hot weather in South America. The butter, corn and creamy mouthfeel would make this a nice cocktail to pair with a cigar, but the amount of lime makes it hard. It limits the options to strong cigars, and in this case I would go for a strong maduro, either Connecticut Broadleaf or San Andres.

And now for the Caipirinha recipe

2 ounces or 60ml of Velho Barreiro Cachaca
1 lime cut into wedges
2 teaspoons of sugar

Garnish: lime wheel
Muddle the lime wedges with the sugar in a double rocks glass. Fill the glass with ice and add the cachaca. Stir briefly.

Batida Rosa

This cocktail looks like summer. A beautiful red colour with an orange peel in a wine glass with ice. The nose shows the cachaca but now with a little bit of orange. Due to the grenadine it tastes like summer too. Fresh because of the pineapple juice, lemon juice and the grenadine, but still boozy enough because of the cachaca. The club soda lightens the cocktail and makes it well balanced, except for the grenadine. That is a bit too strong, a bit too sweet. But it is a nice cocktail to pair with a nice medium bodied cigar. And that could be something creamy, such as a Perdomo Champagne or something with a bit more bite like a Tatuaje Havana VI.

And now for the Batida Rosa recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Velho Barreiro Cachaca
1 ounce or 30ml of Pineapple juice
½ ounce or 15ml of lemon juice, freshly squeezed

½ ounce or 15ml of grenadine
1 ounce or 30ml of club soda

Garnish: orange peel
Add the cachaca, pineapple juice, lemon juice and grenadine in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a wine glass over fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with an orange peel.

Lemon Beat

The name alone makes me think this could be a horror to match with a cigar, but I am going to try it anyway. The butter and corn aroma of cachaca is still there, but now with quite a strong lemon aroma as well. The nose is quite similar to the drink itself, cachaca with lemon with the sweetness of honey. Well balanced and not as heavy on the citrus as the name would suggest. This is not a cocktail that I would make more often, but that’s because I learned that cachaca isn’t my kind of spirit, but if you like cachaca, try this cocktail with a medium bodied cigar with a nice Cameroon wrapper because of its spicy characteristics. Arturo Fuente has plenty Cameroon cigars to offer, for example the Rainforest Delight, a Cuesta Rey, Oliva Serie G or a CAO Cameroon. But make sure it’s real Cameroon, from Africa, and not some Cameroon clone from another part of the world.

2 ounces or 60ml of Velho Barreiro Cachaca
1 ounce or 30ml of Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ ounce or 15ml of rich honey syrup (3 to 1 syrup)

Garnish: lemon slice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a highball over fresh ice.

Inspector X

Leave a Reply