The fine folks at Holt’s Cigar Company asked me to help them out with a project–
To pair a puro from their vast selection of cigars with certain tequilas or agave spirits of my choosing.
Easy enough, right?
Holt’s dared me to pair with tequila the highly rated–95 points and the number 2 cigar in 2011 by Cigar Aficionado–La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor, blended by the famed Jose “Pepin” Garcia in Esteli, Nicaragua.
Sunset in Cathedral City, CA
We were vacationing at the Palm Springs Oasis RV Resort, and it was just around sunset when I released my La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor robusto from its plastic sleeve. It’s the perfect size when you don’t have a lot of extra time to carve out of a busy schedule. The soft box press stick felt good between my fingers.
The fresh, rich and minty notes of the supple San Andres maduro wrapper wafted up to greet me. It reminded me of the first lingering notes from a tequila that is lightly rested in used whisky barrels.
I instantly imagined La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor alongside a snifter of Don Suenos reposado, aged in bourbon barrels for a mere six months, but long enough to acquire a lovely amber tint and a hearty finish.
Whenever I can, I like using a hole punch instead of clipping the end of my cigar.
When I removed the plug from the end of the robusto, the fresh smell of moist, expertly blended Nicaraguan binder and filler immediately transported me back to Nicaragua.
(I am partial to Nicaraguan cigars since I am of Nicaraguan descent. I have visited tobacco fincas (ranches) and fabricas (cigar rolling plants) in Esteli. The area itself is widely considered the breadbasket of Central America.)
I also prefer to use a Zippo to ignite my puros, and at first draw, La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor is a bit chocolaty like a bitter cacao laced with black pepper.
Tangos and Duets
Watching birds land on the tall date palm trees surrounding the park, and the swirling cirrus clouds above the San Jacinto mountains changing from bright pink to orange, I concluded that this puro was much milder than I thought it would be. Retro-nasally, it really shined with peppery spice. Not bad for a maduro wrapper.
The chocolate notes continued throughout my smoke, and coated my palate nicely. Naturally, La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor would be a great accompaniment to much richer reposados or aged anejo tequilas.
As my bird friend flew away from his date palm perch, and the ash of the cigar grew firmly, I decided that the Nashville-based TC Craft anejo would tango elegantly with this puro.
Aged up to three years in repurposed whisky barrels, the female-produced TC Craft anejo carries a hint of caramel in every sip that dynamically duets with La Aroma de Cuba’s underlying cinnamon spice.
Mallard ducks from the adjoining Date Palm Country Club flew by as the final rays of the sun colored the clouds from orange to red. That’s when the residents of the RV park began sparking up their barbecues. The smell of steaks on the grill gave me an idea.
Certainly La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor would be ideal after a satisfying meat dish or Texas barbecue, but…
How would it hold up against another trendy agave spirit like Bacanora?
Where There’s Smoke
Pascola Bacanora is fairly new to the market, but it, and the entire category for that matter, is poised to take taste buds by storm.
Distilled using the Agave Pacifica plant that is native to Sonora, Mexico, the silver unaged expression of Pascola Bacanora brings a hauntingly light smokiness on the nose that dovetails into a pleasing sugar and spice aftertaste on the tongue.
Most often combined with grilled veggies, cheeses or fruit, Pascola Bacanora silver matched up with La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor is a pure delight.
I defy you to try this combo!
Darkness crept over Cathedral City. The last remnants of sunlight revealed the craggy outlines of the mountains. La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor had been sublime. An excellent companion to a great end of the day. Its consistency and versatility had been eye opening.
Oftentimes, I force myself to puff on a cigar to the bitter end. I have to admit, though, that the draw was just as rich down to the nub as it was at the beginning. That has to be a testament to the care and craftsmanship of Pepin Garcia.
Take an hour or so out of your day to pair La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor with your favorite tequila or agave spirit. I guarantee you’ll enjoy the experience.
[FTC Disclosure: I received payment and the cigar from Holt’s in exchange for my expertise in pairing cigars and agave spirits. The opinions, recommendations, and content are wholly mine with no input by Holt’s Cigars except the specific cigar selected.]