Cigar & Spirits Magazine: March/April 2020 Ft. Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley

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MARCH/APRIL 2021

IAN SOMERHALDER PAUL WESLEY THE BROTHER’S BOND BOURBON DIARIES


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MARCH/APRIL 2021

LINCOLN SALAZAR RANDY MASTRONICOLA BREAHNA WHEELER

CEO & Publisher Editor-in-Chief Corporate Events/Admin.

JOE REDMOND

Art Director

MIYURI NORRIS

Director of Digital Media

AUDREY PAVIA

Consulting Editor

CODY CHO

Consulting Media Director

JOE BOSSO

Senior Writer

ELISA JORDAN

Senior Writer

CHRIS GOLDSHOLL LISA TURNBULL BAILEY KERWICK SHAHID GHANI NATALIE NICOL CARLY SCHEUER

Account Executive Administrative Coordinator Administrative Assistant Chief Financial Officer Legal Accounting

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Joe Bosso, Nick Hammond, Dave Johnson, Elizabeth Anderson Lopez, Greg Mays, Audrey Pavia

A L I N CO L N B L A K E S A L A Z A R P U B L I C AT I O N Editorial, Production and Sales Office

Headquartered at: 72 Argonaut Suite 130 | Aliso Viejo, CA 92656 (949) 599-2760 Cigar & Spirits is published bi-monthly by Top Hat Media Group. Please send address changes to Cigar & Spirits Magazine, PO BOX 92675, Long Beach, CA 90809. ©2021 by Top Hat Media Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. For subscription inquiries or changes of address: Cigar & Spirits Magazine, PO BOX 92675, Long Beach, CA 90809 (you may email us at cigarandspirits@pfsmag.com) (888) 881-5861, or fax (714) 226-9789. Subscription rate is $19.99 for 6 issues; $32.99 for 12 issues. Canadian and foreign surface, add $6 extra per year payable in U.S. funds. Single copy price is $5.99. Please allow up to 8 weeks for mailing of first bi-monthly issue to new subscribers. When changing address, give 12 weeks notice, and include address label from latest copy as well as new address. Occasionally, we make our subscriber list available to carefully screened companies that offer products and services that we believe would interest our readers. Please view our Privacy Policy at tophatmediagroup.com/privacypolicy.html. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40612608, Registration No. R126851765. Return undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: IMEX Global Solutions, P. O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, CANADA. Printed in the U.S.A. March 2021 Volume 11/Issue 2 For Advertising: Advertising@CigarandSpirits.com To Contact Us for Questions & Comments email: CustomerService@CigarandSpirits.com Letters to the Editor: Feedback@CigarandSpirits.com For subscription customer service: cigarandspirits@pfsmag.com

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AVAILABLE ONLINE EXCLUSIVELY AT WWW.PAPPYCO.COM

THE STORY OF THESE HISTORIC BOURBON-BARREL-FERMENTED CIGARS STARTS, WHERE ELSE, BUT IN KENTUCKY, USA AND FEATURES KENTUCKY SEED AND KENTUCKY GROWN TOBACCO. ONCE GROWN, THE TOBACCO LEAVES ARE HARVESTED AND CAREFULLY SELECTED FOR TRADITIONAL KENTUCKY STYLE FIRE CURING. WE THEN TRANSPORT THE LEAVES, USED AS THE WRAPPER, FROM HOPKINSVILLE, KENTUCKY TO SAINT JAMES PARISH, LOUISIANA. THIS IS WHERE THE TOBACCO UNDERGOES BARREL FERMENTATION. THE PAPPY VAN WINKLE BARREL FERMENTED CIGAR IS HAND CRAFTED AT LA GRAN FABRICA DREW ESTATE IN ESTELI, NICARAGUA AND FEATURES TWO WRAPPERS, "TAPA NEGRA”, THE KENTUCKY GROWN, BARREL FERMENTED LEAF BLENDED OVER A MEXICAN SAN ANDRES LEAF WITH AN ALL-NICARAGUAN BLEND OF WELL AGED, ROBUST & EARTHY TOBACCOS. AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL DREW DIPLOMAT RETAILER

DREW ESTATE | THE REBIRTH OF CIGARS WWW.DREWESTATE.COM #DE4L

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CONTENTS ON THE COVER

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IAN SOMERHALDER PAUL WESLEY

The Brother’s Bond Bourbon Diaries

LIFESTYLE

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THE LOWDOWN WHAT’S OUT THERE NOW

Jazzy Tech Gems Stratospheric Scotches Vital Vinyl Big Boy Soaps

FEATURES

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ARMAGNAC REDUX

Catching Up with Cognac’s Cousin

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THE CIGAR BOX GUITAR REVIVAL

David Sutton’s CBG Obsession

ON THE COVER

IAN SOMERHALDER PAUL WESLEY

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ABOUT OUR COVER

Sweet Drams Are Made of This The Craft and Artistry of Glenfiddich

Cigar & Spirits Magazine met with Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley in Malibu, Calif. this past February. The grounds at Malibu Canyon offered a variety of gorgeous landscapes and creeks for all the players to explore together. The locale helped create an outdoorsy and collaborative vibe. Renowned celebrity photographer John Russo’s work appearing in this issue perfectly captures the deep bond between Ian and Paul as well as their zest for having a bit of mischievous fun. We thank groomer Fabiola @TMGLA for fashioning the rustic and rugged look for Ian and Paul. We thank videographer Audrey Pavia and photographer John Russo for their creative efforts. A special thank you to Annick Müller at Wolf Kasteler Public Relations who helped put us all together.

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ICONIC BRAND SPOTLIGHT


MARCH/APRIL 2021 INTERVIEWS

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CHEERS TO JOSH AGLE!

The Cocktail Artist Extraordinaire Known as Shag

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BEHIND THE LEAF ALAN RUBIN OF ALEC BRADLEY CIGARS

Twenty-five Years In, and the Future is Now

REWARDS

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FEATURED PAIRINGS

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THE ARTIST KNOWN AS SHAG

BEHIND THE LEAF

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ARMAGNAC REDUX

Perfecto Pairings To Expand Your Palate

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FOR YOUR HUMIDOR

Spring Cigar Buyer’s Guide

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FOR YOUR HOME BAR

Spring Spirits Buyer’s Guide

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THE CRAFT AND ARTISTRY OF GLENFIDDICH

WORLD SPIRITS COMPETITION 2020

Double Gold Spotlight

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FEATURED SPRING COCKTAILS

April Showers Bring May Flowers…and Classic Cocktail Sours

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THE CIGAR BOX GUITAR REVIVAL

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FEATURED COCKTAILS

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THE LOWDOWN

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PUBLISHER’S NOTE EVOLVE

WE MUST ALWAYS EVOLVE as necessary for survival in life. We would still be living in caves, beating each other over the heads with clubs, or working at Mr. Slate’s Rock and Quarry Company if we didn’t. (Those on the younger side of our readership might not get the reference if they didn’t grow up watching The Flintstones.) It’s essential that we change with the times. Hopefully, keeping some type of bond to the past. I’ve been told myself– from a young age– that I have an old soul. I really love to hear this. I love Frank Sinatra, Ben E. King and I Love Lucy as well as the old-school traits of being a gentleman. It may be 1955 in my household in some ways, but it’s 2021 in the outside world. Our team has spent months planning this issue. We believe you are holding an innovative issue in your hands for this edition of Cigar & Spirits Magazine. We’re very proud to introduce a uniquely interactive experience. You’ll be able to use your mobile device to scan the QR codes on some articles. This will lead you to additional content including contests, articles and videos. We love the fact that we can expose you to some of the best brands and content in the world. We’re very excited to bridge old-school and new-school as we bring our magazine to a new generation. Rest assured, we’ll keep true to our beliefs in tradition as well. Speaking of old school values–I had the opportunity to spend time with Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley recently. These fine actors have appeared in some of the biggest hit television shows over the past ten years or so. They’ve created a fabulous spirit called Brother’s Bond Bourbon. I immediately loved the name. Some of the most important relationships I share are not related by blood, but there’s a brotherly bond nevertheless. Fortunately, I’ve been able to stay connected to my closest friends who are like brothers to me (even with so much going on in the world) over the past year. We get together at least once a week to play tennis and get away from it all–laughing, ribbing each other and staying connected in tough times. I feel this is so important to do as men and women, to be able to share with one another on a deeper level.

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Cigar & Spirits Magazine publisher Lincoln Salazar

The ties that bind us together make life more impactful. I encourage you to find ways to keep those bonds intact. Life will be even better. Please email stories and photos of you and your friends enjoying life together. I will select some of the best and publish them in upcoming issues.

Cheers, Lincoln B. Salazar publisher@cigarandspirits.com CEO & Publisher

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@cigarandspiritsmagpublisher


LOS ANGELES NYC

SAN FRANCISCO TO K YO

SEOUL

NEWPORT BEACH SYDNEY

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JA ZZY TECH GE MS STR ATOSPHER IC SCOTCHES VITA L VINYL

>> Fineday Retro Design Bluetooth Mechanical Keyboard ($232)

BIG BOY SOA PS

WHAT’S OUT THERE NOW by Dave Johnson and Randy Mastronicola

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>> Xiaomi Transparent OLED ($7,200)

>> Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro ($200)

JAZZY TECH GEMS WE GET JAZZED when new technology is released each year. Whether it’s a genius idea, upgraded features on an existing product, or a snazzy re-design–discovering new tech appeals to those who like being looped into intriguing items. This can be for practical use or for the hobbyist or professional looking to expand their craft. (Like photogs for instance.) Let’s take a look at a few eye-catching tech items as we make our way into 2021. XIAOMI TRANSPARENT OLED ($7,200)

This is one of the most dynamic TVs we’ve ever seen. Period. It’s a 55-inch transparent television, and when it’s turned off, it looks like a glass work of technological art. Turn it on and it features a 120 Hertz refresh rate, a 1 millisecond response time and a 150,000:1 contrast ratio. Unlike traditional TVs, all of the electronics are in the base, leaving a clear window as a display. It has a very distinct wow factor. It would look just as elegant and high-powered in an art gallery as it would in your home. FINEDAY RETRO DESIGN BLUETOOTH MECHANICAL KEYBOARD ($232)

There’s something to be said about having that right keyboard when typing. It can make a world of difference. The Fineday keyboard is one of the best mechanical keyboards we’ve found. It has a uniquely tactile touch and a harmonious mechanical sound to our ears. It’s both a USB and Bluetooth keyboard and syncs up perfectly with your phone or tablet. It has LED backlights for the keys, and two adjustable dials for the LEDs and for the volume on your connected device. SAMSUNG GALAXY BUDS PRO ($200)

With their new three microphone setup and Wind Shield soundproofing, the Galaxy Buds Pro Active Noise Cancellation can eliminate up to 99% of background noise. As for audio quality, they have 360 Audio with an 11-millimeter woofer and 6.5-millimeter tweeter for excellent bass and treble response. They’re also IPX7 water resistant. These are clearly contenders for the top spot in the wireless earbud category.

>> Sony Airpeak Drone

SONY AIRPEAK DRONE

Sony recently announced a first for them: the Airpeak Drone. To say that Sony is a leader in tech would be an understatement. The company has singlehandedly revolutionized the digital camera space with several innovative products in recent years. This Airpeak Drone is clearly aimed at their camera customers and cinematographers of all levels. The Airpeak can attach a gimbal and full-sized DSLR, and we’re suspecting it will feature some unique synergistic features with other Sony cameras. Sony hadn’t released full pricing information at the time of writing this article, but we expect it to be in the $4,000 price range. Keep an eye out for this baby. PHONESOAP ($119)

The pandemic has taught us much about the importance of hand hygiene. We vigilantly wash our hands and sanitize surfaces, but the one object we should focus on a bit more would be our cell phones. PhoneSoap is a UV light cleaning device that looks like a tanning bed for your phone. Put your phone inside, and within minutes the UV light kills 99.9% of germs. The PhoneSoap Pro is a larger, more powerful version and accommodates most phones (or anything else that fits). It even charges your phone >> PhoneSoap ($119) and amplifies your alarms and notifications. -Dave Johnson

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STRATOSPHERIC SCOTCHES ENJOYING THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE is usually not about a value proposition, but about the pleasure it brings. But for most of us, there is a fiscal limit to the top-shelf spirits we can purchase. We hear talk of extremely expensive whiskeys and hope to experience them one day, given the proper opportunity and coin. But there are some spirits so rare and prestigious that they fetch rarified air prices. These spirits are almost certainly unattainable for most, and the legends surrounding them border on mythological. They are in such a unique space that a dedicated scotch collector might just sell a bit of his or her soul to acquire one.

ROYAL SALUTE 50 YEAR BY CHIVAS REGAL

This scotch is our “cheapest” on the list and sold for a miniscule $10,000. It was created for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and was released in 2003 to celebrate her fiftieth year on the throne. The taste has been noted to have hints of raisin, anise and smoky flavors. It comes in an exquisite bottle with a 24-carat gold plaque. It would be a beautiful addition to your collection—if you can find one–since only around two hundred fifty were made.

ROYAL BRACKLA 1924

The Royal Brackla is a 60-year-old scotch that was apparently never intended to be sold in the first place. Found in a warehouse in 1984, these bottles were gifted to guests at the reopening of the Royal Brackla distillery in Scotland in 1991. It’s a single malt scotch whisky that now is one of the most coveted whiskies of all time. It has sold for over $12,000 a bottle.

GENERATIONS MORTLACH 75 YEAR OLD BY GORDON & MACPHAIL

If you’re looking for the world’s oldest single malt, check out the Generations Mortlach 75 Year Old by Gordon & MacPhail. It was released in 2015 for $32,000 a bottle. Aged seventy-five years in first-fill sherry casks, this ancient scotch weighs in at a 44.4% ABV and has notes of rancio and candied plums. It’s bottled in a gorgeous teardrop-shaped crystal decanter and comes with a leather valise.

GLENFIDDICH JANET SHEED ROBERTS RESERVE 1955

In 2011 Glenfiddich released its Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve 1955, aged fifty-five years and named after the oldest living person in Scotland at the time of its release. Since she was over 100 years old, she was alive during the cask filling, and Glenfiddich named the bottle in her honor. It has a pale color, and a creamy vanilla flavor to it. Glenfiddich only made fifteen bottles, and because it’s such a collector’s piece, it has sold for over $94,000. –Dave Johnson

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SCAN HERE FOR THE #1 STRATOSPHERIC SCOTCH


VITAL VINYL LOOKING BACK AT OUR YOUNGER DAYS can create either melancholy or sublime inspiration, depending on where we’re at in a given point in our lives. For many, music informs the soul and reminds us of our life experiences over the decades. For us men and women of a certain age, vinyl records and turntables were vital to our survival as teenagers and young adults. The pastime of collecting vinyl records and searching out vintage turntables has undergone a major renaissance. Vinyl has an inviting warmth because of its analog format, and it’s the format of choice for those who have bailed on CD’s and MP3’s. If you want to relive your youth, blow the dust off some of your old vinyl records and get going again. Or better yet, re-invigorate your collection with vinyl records reissues. Craft Recordings is one of our go-to sources for reissues–something old and something new for the Boomer or the Gen X-er in you. Craft Recordings is home to one of the most prestigious collections of master recordings and compositions in the world. The company’s impressive roster includes legendary artists like Joan Baez, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis,

Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Nine Inch Nails, Thelonious Monk, Otis Redding, Big Star, R.E.M. and the Traveling Wilburys. Craft has curated packages for vinyl appreciators with meticulous devotion, ensuring that these recordings endure for new generations to discover. And that’s a beautiful thing in my book. Our down time is precious. A cigar break and some cool tunes will help you get your wig on straight. We recommend you do so with any and all of the following Craft Recordings offerings we’ve dropped on our turntables over the past couple of years. craftrecordings.com –Randy Mastronicola

JOHN COLTRANE LUSH LIFE ($99.99)

John Coltrane’s iconic 1961 album Lush Life is the first release in the company’s Small Batch series. The releases are a carefully curated, one-step process vinyl collection that’s devoted to creating the highest quality reissues of legendary recordings. DOUBLE WHAMMY 1960S GARAGE ROCK RAVE-UP ($34.99) This compilation is a power-packed garage rock extravaganza drawing 1960s classics and rarities from the vaults of labels, including Stax, Original Sound, Vanguard and Fantasy. IRMA THOMAS AFTER THE RAIN ($34.99)

This offering is available on vinyl for the first time. After The Rain was recorded in Louisiana only months after Hurricane Katrina, and although a majority of the songs were chosen prior to the hurricane, the album’s prophetic themes offer a message of hope. JAMES BOOKER CLASSIFIED ($21.99) Classified—James Booker’s unintended swan song—offers one of his greatest commercially released performances and was primarily the result of a whirlwind, four-hour session. In addition to several originals, the album includes a jaunty repertoire, including Fats Domino’s “One for the Highway” and Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL PENDULUM ($29.99) Pendulum is a 50th anniversary pressing of the penultimate studio album from one of America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands, which was first released in 1970 at the peak of Creedence’s prolific career. The record includes the hits “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” “Hey Tonight” and more. The album was mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, benefiting from an exacting process that allows for an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch. CHARLIE PARKER THE SAVOY 10-INCH LP COLLECTION ($89.99) As part of Bird’s centennial celebration in 2020, Craft Recordings presented The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection, a deluxe box set including four 10-inch LPs cut from newly restored and remastered audio. -Randy Mastronicola

SCAN HERE FOR EDITOR’S CHOICE VINYL REISSUE

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BIG BOY SOAPS REACHING OUT IN THE SHOWER for our favorite soap is a daily ritual, and many of us can use an upgrade. Finding the right soap could be the difference between a so-so start to the day or an exceptional one. Individual soap needs vary. If you have dry skin, a moisturizing soap is ideal. If you have oily skin, an exfoliating soap is preferred. Some people like the benefits of an all-natural soap, or a long-lasting one, or a great-smelling scent, or one that feels great. You get the idea. We have many big boy soap products out there, and a lot of stellar options. Having a quality soap is a little thing that makes a big difference, and we think you’ll welcome these soap choices.

DUKE CANNON ($10)

If you want a huge brick of a soap that lasts forever, our choice would be Duke Cannon. The company makes their products at the same factory that supplied soaps to American GIs in the Korean War, and Duke Cannon still sends soap out to those in uniform. Their soaps are huge 10-ounce bricks that last for months, and they even have options that feature an infusion of beer or bourbon. CREED ($50)

Creed has a centuries-long history of making high-end fragrances, and their soaps are just as elite. The variety of scents are incredible, so having them in soap form is a true luxury. They feel great, smell even better, and if you have a favorite fragrance scent from Creed, they will likely have it in their line of soaps. MORNING MOJO BAR SOAP BY URSA MAJOR ($14)

Ursa Major gets our vote for an exfoliating soap. The brand is known for its all-natural, clean and ethical grooming products—but their soap line is wonderful. There are many exfoliating soaps on the market, but theirs is among the best we’ve ever sampled. It’s textured–smells bright and green–and leaves your skin feeling squeaky clean. PHOENIX ARTISAN ACCOUTREMENTS ($6)

If you need something that feels great and hydrates your skin, look no further than soaps from Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements. The brand specializes in both classic and modern takes on aftershave scents, and many of their products in their grooming line share these scents, including their bar soaps. But when it comes to feel and moisturizing, their body soaps are second to none. With their natural ingredient blend of coconut and argan oils, their soaps leave your skin with a soft, velvety feeling that is out of this world. THE SENSITIVE SKIN CLEANSING BAR BY HAWTHORNE ($17)

For sensitive skin, our recommendation is Hawthorne’s. Their four soap choices are absolutely refined. The highlight here is the Sensitive bar with its key ingredients of coconut oil, illipe butter and Egyptian lotus is a welcomed surprise. This sublime product smells great and is ideal for those of us who need a little extra tenderness. –Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is a fragrance review critic and entertainer on the popular YouTube Channel, FragranceBros.com Randy Mastronicola is the Editor-in-Chief of Cigar & Spirits Magazine.

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Thank you for the first 25 years, looking forward to the next. - Alec, Alan and Bradley Rubin

ALECBRADLEY.COM

ALECBRADLEYCIGAR

ALECBRADLEYCIGAR

ALECBRADLEY WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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FEATURED PAIRINGS PERFECTO PAIRINGS TO EXPAND YOUR PALATE by Greg Mays

AJ FERNANDEZ BELLAS ARTES HABANO HEAVEN’S DOOR STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY AJ Fernandez’s work has become synonymous with elite Nicaraguan tobacco blends. He’s highly regarded for architecting bold and peppery blends. AJ has made a name for himself worldwide, and many of his creations have become the standard for “new world” cigars. The Bellas Artes is delicious. The initial light showcases AJ’s signature pepper profile. The blend of Nicaraguan, Honduran and Brazilian tobacco fillers brought a smile to my face. The pepper morphs into sourdough bread, with a touch of buttery cream–with just enough spice. The Bellas Artes continues with this profile reliably to the end, a delicious and surprisingly mild (by AJ standards) stick to the nub. Given the spicy profile in the Bellas Artes, I grabbed a bottle of Heaven’s Door Rye Whiskey for pairing purposes. Of course, “Heaven’s Door” refers to Bob Dylan’s landmark “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” anthem. Dylan is a collaborator on this whiskey line, along with distillers Ryan Perry and Jordan Via. Heaven’s Door Rye is a straight rye whiskey that’s finished in toasted oak cigar barrels in Vosges, France. Did that prick your ears up like mine did? The flavor of Heaven’s Door Rye is bold and well-matured, with notes of clove and roasted orange. There is a wonderful spice profile to this gorgeous rye that elegantly meshes with a unique cigar like the Bella Artes. This pairing is out of this world. 6 x 54 Toro | Wrapper: Habano | Binder: Quilali | Filler: Brazilian, Honduran, Nicaraguan Strength: Medium/Full | MSRP (cigar): $10 | MSRP (whiskey): $75

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PERDOMO RESERVE 10 YEAR MADURO AVERNA AMARO When I think in my head, I imagine Perdomo on the lighter side of Nicaraguan cigars– their Champagne line, one of their biggest sellers, is a real bright spot in unique, quality Nicaraguan sticks. I have, from time to time, had a maduro Perdomo, but the Reserve 10 Year really caught my eye. A cigar with a beautiful near-oscuro dark wrapper, tightly built and ready for smoking, I was excited to touch fire to it. This is a bold and intense Perdomo, and certainly one to enjoy on a warm, long night. Flavors of bitter chocolate arrive when your lips touch the wrapper, and from foot to cap, this cigar gives off all sorts of chili zingers. Initially, a Mexican red-chili-and-dark-chocolate profile morphs its way into Asian chilis. Then back to the Mexican profile–the flavor itself hinted at Mexican premium tobacco. This Perdomo sports a subtle box-pressed feel. The cigar offers brand fans a fantastic price point, and an incredible flavor experience. I paired it with Averna Amaro, a black-coffeedark Italian bitter liqueur. It has a flavor profile with a vague similarity to root beer. There’s a hint of spice, then the sweetness of the liqueur, and a touch of bitterness, too. It’s this balance that makes Averna a great paring with the spicy richness of the Perdomo Reserve. Go ahead, it’s time to experiment a little. You’ll become enamored of pairing the Averna in this way. 6 x 54 Epicure | Wrapper/Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan | Strength: Full v

MSRP (cigar): $9 | MSRP (amaro): $32

MONTECRISTO 1935 ANNIVERSARY NICARAGUA BACARDI GRAN RESERVA DIEZ Montecristo is one of the most recognized cigar brands in the world. They have been releasing celebration blends of the original founding of the company (in Cuba) in 1935 over these past couple of years. The 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua is a blend by the famed Grupo de Maestros, AJ Fernandez and Rafael Nodal. It’s a Nicaraguan puro from wrapper to filler. This is a fine cigar with notes of dry wood and strong coffee. The boldness of the rich Nicaraguan tobacco adds some oomph, too. It lights and burns perfectly: straight up the wrapper with a strong, tight ash. I paired the Monte 1935 Anniversary with Bacardi’s Gran Reserva Diez, a 10-year-old rum from Puerto Rico with balancing flavors to the Montecristo: woody, sour cherry and coconut. Rum is, of course, one of the classic cigar pairings as it shares much of the same rich heritage and terrior as tobacco itself. Many of the same islands that produce sugar cane for rum also grow tobacco. It’s most definitely a magical combination when experiencing a quality cigar and rum like this. The warmth, richness and sweet earthy elements make for such an excellent pairing. 6 x 54 Toro | Wrapper/Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Medium/Full MSRP (cigar): $17 | MSRP (rum): $45

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LA AURORA BROADLEAF WHITEFISH HIGHLINE RYE La Aurora’s legendary tubo “preferido” line has been a force in the Dominican cigar space for a long time, but you shouldn’t overlook the breadth of their impressive portfolio. La Aurora is the original brand and factory on the island. Their lines are varied and generally affordable. The Broadleaf, a black-banded robusto from the brand, is a mostly Dominican blend, with some Nicaraguan tobacco to balance the filler. On light, there is a little Nicaraguan pepper beneath graham cracker flavors. The initial third of the cigar is a mild affair. As you reach the halfway point, the La Aurora Broadleaf takes on some similar profiles to a Spanish Tempranillo: a bit of peppery red wine. Occasionally, it’s a bit peanuty, too. Strength builds to medium as you go through this manageable cigar with a firm, tight pack. I paired the Broadleaf with Highline Rye, by Whitefish Distilling in Montana. My bottle, from batch #9 of the rye, reveals a straw-colored rye with a bright and very tropical nose: bananas, mango and traces of cedar. This is a balanced rye, too, that’s sweet along with the spice. This Whitefish is a fresh-tasting whiskey with a clean finish that balances well with the La Aurora. 5 x 50 Robusto | Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf | Binder: Dominican Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan Strength: Mild/Medium | MSRP (cigar): $8.50 | MSRP (whiskey): $45

VEGAFINA 1998 KETEL ONE CITROEN Vegafina is celebrating its founding year (1998) with a cigar of its namesake, blended by Grupo de Maestros, AJ Fernandez and Rafael Nodal. Fernandez and Nodal are world-famous for the care and complexity of their cigar blends and are masterful craftsmen–especially with Nicaraguan tobacco. The Vegafina 1998 is a blend of three-year-old tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Columbia. Columbian tobacco has been making its way into some limited-release blends in the last five years or so, and it’s a welcome addition here. It adds some pleasant earthiness along with the familiar Dominican and Nicaraguan sweet and peppery profiles. This is a flavorful, yet not too bold, smoke. The flavors of the 1998 are charred cedar, along with aged, sweet tobacco. It’s very much a “classic” cigar flavor. It’s familiar and accessible and very easy to smoke. As a lighter complement to the 1998, I paired the cigar with Ketel One Citroen. The infusions of lime and lemon are really unique and clean on the palate. Ketel One, as you’re probably aware, is a very premium vodka company. Their various blends are highly drinkable, with a clean and dry aftertaste. This pairing is flavorful and finishes crisp and clean. 6 x 54 VF54 | Wrapper: Ecuadorian Havana | Binder: Indonesian Fillers: Columbian, Dominican, Nicaraguan | Strength: Medium v

MSRP (cigar): $10 | MSRP (vodka): $25 Greg Mays is the Executive Editor of Simple Cocktails (simplecocktails.net). You can follow him on Instagram and Snapchat at @simplecocktails.

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C&S Photo by David Blank/Courtesy of Josh Agle.

>> Josh Agle is a big fan of tiki culture, cocktails and barware; tiki drinks in their signature containers are one of his favorite things to illustrate.

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CHEERS TO

JOSH

AGLE!

THE COCKTAIL ARTIST Photo courtesy of Josh Agle.

EXTRAORDINAIRE KNOWN AS

SHAG by Elizabeth Anderson Lopez

THINK YOU KNOW JOSH AGLE? Maybe.

>> Tiki Cats and Kittens

After all, much has been written about Agle’s start as a graphic artist before becoming the icon that is Shag. His work represents the pinnacle of the Lowbrow Art Movement (aka pop surrealism) that began in the 70s. The artist’s work is displayed in full glory at The Shag Store in Palm Springs, Calif. The retail shop and gallery is exclusively dedicated to his artwork.

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Photo courtesy of Josh Agle.

>> Fourth Man On Fire

I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to chat with Agle and really focus on cocktails in his work. Agle reveals the origins of his love for the cocktail culture, the connections between tiki culture and craft cocktails, and provides an answer to a question he’s never been asked before in print–one that may well alter his future. Elizabeth Anderson Lopez: You’ve previously said the people in your artwork are based on archetypes and they’re almost always hedonists. I’m curious if you still feel that way. Josh Agle: Yes, definitely. I was brought up as a Mormon. Mormons don’t drink or smoke, so it was the lure of the forbidden I think. When I started making art, even though I wasn’t a Mormon anymore, I wanted to paint that feeling I had as a kid looking at this outside world with cocktail parties and bars and the way they were enjoying the world; that’s kind of what I wanted to capture in my own art. Factoring in the timeless appeal of nostalgia, mid-century modern, etc., can you share your perspective on cocktail culture in the eras you depict? It’s weird because when I started painting 25 years ago, cocktail culture definitely wasn’t what it is now. It was still kind of coming out of that era where drinking was seen as something unhealthy and not something you should pursue as any sort of hobby or culture. That’s how I feel it kind of was in the 80s, with the ‘just say no’ stuff. But then in the early 90s there was sort of a resurgence and interest in cocktail culture, especially 50s and early 60s cocktail culture. You know, Frank Sinatra always with a glass of Jack Daniels in his hand or people basing their social situations around alcohol, say, a cocktail party or something like that. And that’s right around when I started making art. I was kind of a booster for this idea that alcohol and cocktail culture was something that wasn’t supposed to be shunned. It was something that could be celebrated.

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“I WAS KIND OF A BOOSTER FOR THIS IDEA THAT ALCOHOL AND COCKTAIL CULTURE WAS SOMETHING THAT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE SHUNNED. IT WAS SOMETHING THAT COULD BE CELEBRATED.” What do you think is the appeal, or natural pairing, of tiki culture and cocktail culture? I think tiki culture, which has probably the most laborintensive cocktails, and around the same time I started painting, there was a sort of rediscovery of the original recipes of Trader Vic’s or Donn Beach and how they made them. On how you had to use the exact right ingredients, the exact right kind of ice. And I think that kind of paved the way for both the craft cocktail movement and the movement toward rediscovering vintage cocktail recipes and making them exactly the way they were supposed to be made. In the 70s, 80s and 90s bars started focusing on how they could maximize their profits, and they didn’t want bartenders spending a lot of time making drinks. They invented those hoses that you just push a button and out comes a whatever. But you couldn’t do that with a good tiki drink. That was something that was actually crafted, and I think that led to other bartenders saying, ‘Hey, I can spend a little time on this drink. I can build a drink that has different dimensions to it and more flavor profiles’ in something that will be more of an experience than a gin and tonic or something that somebody orders just because they want to get a buzz.


Photos courtesy of Josh Agle. >> The Shag store in Palm Springs, Calif. attracts Shag fans across the globe.

>> Two Hours Past Bedtime

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>> Vinegar Girl >> Cocktail Country is a boozy land of make-believe that will include brochures and other goodies as part of the purchase.

Photos courtesy of Josh Agle.

THE COCKTAIL CULTURE KING ON HIS FAVORITE PALM SPRINGS BARS The Amigo Room “Looking like a cool Mexican Restaurant from the 70s, this bar serves the Ace Hotel. I once spent seven hours in the center booth drinking Gold Diggers.” acehotel.com

>> Funny Face

Bootlegger Tiki “This little bar sits in the location of the legendary Don the Beachcomber. It was born when an intact portion of Don’s interior was discovered in the back room of the building.” bootleggertiki.com

Melvyn’s “One of Palm Springs’ most historic bars and restaurants, Melvyn’s was the gathering place of Hollywood elite like Frank Sinatra and Liza Minelli, but you’re welcomed there, too.” inglesideinn.com

Purple Room “An old-fashioned bar and supper club with live entertainment, the Purple Room opened in the late 50s, when it wasn’t uncommon to see Frank, Dino or Sammy jump on stage and sing with the band.” purpleroompalmsprings.com

The Reef Palm Springs “This tiny tiki bar serves the Caliente Tropics Resort with plenty of poolside seating. Ask about the secret menu which I designed.” thereefpalmsprings.com

Seymour’s “This speakeasy-style bar serves craft cocktails and shares a location with the Palm Springs institution Mr. Lyons Steak House. It’s also within easy walking distance of my house.” seymoursps.com

Tonga Hut “The Palm Springs branch of L.A.’s oldest tiki bar, the Tonga Hut overlooks Palm Canyon Drive. Do a little exploring and you might find the doorway to their secret room.” tongahut.com

Tropicale “This bar and restaurant looks like a Carmen Miranda movie set, and features both indoor and outdoor drinking and dining in lavish surroundings.” apps.thetropicale.com

Workshop Kitchen + Bar “This bar focuses on ingredients and technique when crafting their authentic cocktails. It’s right across the street from the Shag store for your convenience.” workshoppalmsprings.com

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And how do you think the aesthetics of the specialized glassware fits into that? Well, that’s all part of it because like they say with food, ‘You eat with your eyes first,’ and I guess you drink with your eyes first, too. If your drink comes out and it’s got cool glassware and a cool garnish and the drink itself looks good you’re going to say, ‘I can’t wait to take a sip of this.’ Whereas if it just comes out in a standard highball glass and a maraschino cherry in it, you’re like, ‘Yeah, OK, it’s a cocktail.’ So definitely I feel the visual aesthetic is an important piece of all of that. Of course, that’s me talking because I’m all about the visuals. Are you able to talk about anything you’re working on now? I’m already working on stuff for the first half of 2021. [Cigar & Spirits Magazine conducted the interview with Josh Agle during the first week of January of 2021.] Cocktail Country, the sort of amusement park, is our next release in January and that’s a really big 16-color silkscreen print. We are releasing it in such a way as if the place is real. If you buy the print you get a lifetime passport to Cocktail Country, you get a couple brochures describing all the rides and attractions of Cocktail Country. The month after that we’re doing a sort of Palm Springs themed release, sort of a midcentury modern meets the desert print with a woman holding a cocktail. Almost everyone in my art is holding a cocktail.


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Photos courtesy of Josh Agle.

>> Where the magic happens–Josh Agle’s studio is in Orange County, Calif.

>> Bored Heiress

Do you know what that will be before you start a piece? I usually know they’re going to be holding a cocktail but I haven’t decided what the cocktail’s going to be until the artwork gets a little more fully realized. So the cocktail will be dependent on the color of the piece. It’ll be dependent on the pose of the person in the piece of art. Standing a certain way makes more sense to hold, say, a martini glass with a stem. If they’re standing another way it might make more sense to hold a highball glass. Those are just kind of aesthetic and artistic decisions that come into it. You’ve illustrated several cocktail books. How did those come about and do you anticipate doing more? I wouldn’t say no to the opportunity to do more. A well-known bartender had written a book about tropical drinks and the publisher approached me to see if I would illustrate it. The next book they wanted was specifically about Shag cocktails, so that’s how those little cocktail books came about. I haven’t done one of those in a few years, but I definitely would like to. I illustrate bar menus, as well. I did a menu for the Tonga Hut in Palm Springs. I did a secret menu for another bar in Palm Springs, The

Reef, because I love illustrating those little pictures of cocktails that go on a tropical drink menu. Is there anything related to cocktail culture that I haven’t specifically asked that you think our readers and your fans would like to know? Hmm. Actually, this is something I’ve been asked many times but I don’t think I’ve ever been asked in print–when am I going to open a bar? Usually I’ve just kind of pooh-poohed the idea but weirdly since this whole pandemic lockdown thing started, I’ve been thinking about wanting to open a bar in Palm Springs. So that might happen in the next couple years. The reason I want to open a bar is just because I want to design the interior and the bar menu. So you envision more the “getting off the ground” stages, not a daily presence. Yeah, I don’t want to run the bar. I’d have to have a partner or partners who are more interested in the day-today operations of a bar. But I want to design the bar. I want it based on me and my art–obviously named Shag or The Shag Bar or something like that. I want it to feel like you’ve stepped into one of my paintings.

Elizabeth Anderson Lopez is an award-winning writer based in Southern California. She and her husband are fans of all things mid-century modern and are proud to display several pieces of Shag’s artwork in their home. You can reach her at fromconcepttocontent.com.

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“IF YOUR DRINK COMES OUT AND IT’S GOT COOL GLASSWARE AND A COOL GARNISH AND THE DRINK ITSELF LOOKS GOOD YOU’RE GOING TO SAY, ‘I CAN’T WAIT TO TAKE A SIP OF THIS.’”


UNFORSAKEN UNFORSAKEN - DARK SUMATRA Dark Sumatra Nicaraguan binder and filler; barrel aged, medium to full body; extremely rich with notes of cedar, spice, roasted coffee and complex taste of sweetness.

NAME

COLOR

SIZE

BOX OF

BUNDLE

BOOLIT

DARK

4.75 x 46

4.75 x 46

32 ct

TORO

DARK

6 x 52

6 x 52

24 ct

SIXTY

DARK

6 x 60

6 x 60

24 ct

SEVENTY

DARK

6 x 70

6 x 70

24 ct


C&S

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village of Lavardens in

the historical province

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of Gascony, France.

rustamank/Shutterstock.com

view of the >> A summer landscape


>> Armagnac eau de vie leaving the alembic.

in >> Armagnac vintages . glass bonbonnes

Photos courtesy of Nick Hammond.

Armagnac Redux Catching Up with Cognac’s Cousin by Nick Hammond

In a forgotten corner of France, one of the world’s great spirits is created; quietly, unobtrusively, year after year, in a thousand oak-beamed barns. Our intrepid British correspondent Nick Hammond reports… THIS slice of France echoes dimly, but persistently, in the back of my mind. It’s the France of thickly wooded hillsides and drowsing wide-horned cattle; of lanes trammelled by climbing hops and sprawling fruits; of wide-hipped gables and soporific bell towers. This is Gascony, the true heart of rural French cuisine. And on lonely farms stretched across this gloriously verdant stretch of land in the shadow of the Pyrenees, each year a travelling circus traverses the landscape to create true alchemy.

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Photos courtesy of Nick Hammond.

>> Cognac making its way into Dartigalongue glass.

Armagnac is the lesser-known cousin of Cognac; simply put, a brandy by another name. But once tasted, never forgotten, especially if you taste it here in the land of ducks, geese and musketeers. To my mind, it’s the most intriguing of brandies and a sensational accompaniment to a good cigar. Like other brandies, Armagnac is created in carefully curated blends, but, unusually, it’s often also in specific vintages. Refreshingly, you can buy aged Armagnac at minimal mark-up–indeed, brandies of 20, 30 and 40 years’ distinction are readily available at a fraction of the cost of aged whiskies or Cognacs. Each harvest, travelling column stills pulled by tractors roll into Gascon farmyards–puttering and steaming alembics that distil wine from a unique series of grapes with exotic, evocative names; Bacco, Colombard, Folle blanche and Ugni blanc. Running night and day, they create a heady spirit which is placed in oak barrels to age. It’s

“To my mind, it’s the most intriguing of brandies and a sensational accompaniment to a good cigar.” a liquid end of term report on the passing rural year. A sample of each is reverently poured into magical glass bonbonnes, stoppered, stored and left to gather dust. It’s strangely moving to reverentially step through these sepulchral paradis of vintages, some of which are over a century old. The beauty of Armagnac is the sheer variety and distinction of each house, blend and vintage. You can expect regular flavors from the three main Armagnac districts; notes like violets, caramel, fruit and honey. But with age comes distinction and many Armagnacs are aged

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>> The Cellars at Chateau de Laubad e.


BOVEDA

PETE JOHNSON TA T U A J E

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Photo courtesy of Nick Hammond.

>> Handcrafting

product at Darro

ze.

for decades to smooth the raw, rough edges and develop that rounded, palate-seducing warmth. As well as the traditional, subsistence farmhouse production, there are larger, more permanent concerns; great chateaux of renown, sprawling estates and manicured vineyards. It’s fascinating to spend as few days travelling from tiny oneman operations to the slick, stainless steel international distributors. Indeed, it’s one of the most pleasant ways the roving epicurean can spend a week or so; as long as you have a driver willing to forego the good stuff, you can meander through the countryside and see what the day brings. Many home-grown outfits will have nothing more than a handwritten sign by the wayside to tempt you in. You may find an inscrutable old Gascon lady in a pinny and she may not speak a word of English; but she’ll reach into a sacred store and pull out a bottle–or three–for you to try. Let the adventure begin. If you speak passable French or your guide does, you’ll be drawn, inexorably, into a wonderful world of wildlife, family, rural tradition, national pride and remarkable resourcefulness. You may well make a new set of friends. You’ll leave clutching a bottle–or three–of remarkable spirit which will always remind you of those quiet lanes, gaggles of geese and food and drink to daydream over.

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The grander bottlings are no less special, too; wonderful chateaux with splendid gardens. You may bump into the latest scion of the family dynasty and it’s heart-warming to see the pride which this ancient spirit still engenders. If, as I suspect, you are a cigar lover, you will leave Gascony not only with a renewed penchant for foie gras, magret de canard and Bayonne ham, but also warm memories of a glass of gloriously tinted brandy and a smoke enjoyed in a quiet location; perhaps the place du village, the terrace of a rustic bistro; a vineyard tour or maybe even with the company of a local producer. Even once you leave, sensory memories can still be with you. I have taken the strain to test and match some significant Armagnacs with some worthy handmade cigars. These are just a starting point; the true journey remains yours. My advice would be to pick up bottles where you can; find styles and regions you like; experiment with your cigars and see what works. Armagnac is a powerful spirit, many in excess of 50% alcohol by volume, so you need your wits about you. I would suggest not leaving your pairing always until the witching hour approaches, after you have eaten and drunk to satiation. While Armagnac is a digestif bar none, it also deserves closer inspection on a fresh palate.


A FUENTE

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>> Bonbonne at Delord.

Photos courtesy of Nick Hammond.

>> Travelling distiller Marc Sain t working with his wood fired alem Martin bic.

Mighty Fine Armagnac and Cigar Pairings MARQUIS DE MONTESQUIOU EXTRA OLD Minimum maturation of 10 years in oak, a deep, powerful spirit with baskets of fruit and a hint of spice. Perfect cigar accompaniment with a good, woody Montecristo such as the epic Petit Edmundo. This cigar brand’s link to the Alexandre Dumas classic, The Count of Montecristo, adds romance indeed.

JANNEAU XO

“The beauty of Armagnac is the sheer variety and distinction of each house, blend and vintage.” Indeed, there is an excellent fortified wine made from grape juice and young Armagnac spirit known as Floc de Gascogne. It comes in both red and white and is drunk in Gascony as an aperitif or sometimes dessert wine. It is about 16% abv and has a remarkable and unforgettable taste. It is a back-straightener for me; a bold, wonderfully sprightly starter and also itself lends itself to interesting cigar experimentation. But back to the real thing. Take your chosen Armagnac in hand (a snifter glass is good, but any tulip or Glencairn-style glass will suffice). Pour a small drop in, swirl and warm. Nose it several times over several minutes as your hands warm the spirit. It needs awakening, for like Sleeping Beauty, it has probably slept for decades. Taste it very slowly and very gently, sipping and letting it linger lovingly on the palate. Then it’s a case of selecting your cigar of choice and letting the near future run away with you. I envy you your experience. It’s like nothing else.

Nick Hammond is the UK’s premier cigar writer, a winner of the inaugural Spectator Cigar Writer of the Year Award and a regular contributor to cigar lifestyle publications around the world. He also writes extensively on travel, luxury, food, drink and The Good Life. His new book, Around the World in 80 Cigars: The Travels of An Epicure, is a must read for every cigar lover and world traveller.

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A blend of Baco and Ugni blanc grape from Bas Armagnac and Tenarèze regions, the Armagnacs in this beauty range from 10 to 30 years. A light and delicate brandy, with deep wells of complexity and a nutty finish. The ever-pleasing delights of a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2 works beautifully.

DARROZE ARMAGNAC CHATEAU DE GAUBE 1971 A golden treasure. Opening fruit notes melt into spice, with a long, long and intriguing finish. When paired with an infinitely smooth and subtle H. Upmann No. 2 it soars, developing a peppery nip then soothing it with rumours of Eastern promise. Imported by Elite Wines, www.elitewines.com, price around $275.

DELORD BAS-ARMAGNAC, 25 YEARS In the Paradis at Delord, where vintages of harvests gone by, I saw tag-labelled bonbonnes of a deep, ochre liquid from 1944. It had a profound effect on me, imagining what it must have been like back then, growing, harvesting and squirrelling away this spirit while the world burned. Deeply nutty with the warmth of vanilla. A First 20 Years Colorado by Christian Eiroa was the standout cigar choice with this one; ethereal, almost minty, with a note of candela-style greenness to the cigar, lovingly wrapped in coffee and cocoa.

CHATEAU DE LAUBADE L’UNIQUE, SINGLE CASK The Chateau de Laubade is a folly of sorts; striking Oriental gables and funky sculptures are scattered throughout the grounds and there’s a gloriously outrageous tasting library. Single distilled in 2012 and aged for six years in oak, with a final flourish in a French single malt cask, this Armagnac is striking in its boldness and direction. Relatively young, it’s powerful and, perhaps paradoxically, best matched with a Partagas Serie D No.3, a Limited Edition Cuban from 2001, whose sweetness and light touch tamed the beast.


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Ian Somerhalder Paul Wesley THE BROTHER’S BOND BOURBON DIARIES by Randy Mastronicola and Lincoln Salazar portraits by John Russo

WHEN SPEAKING ABOUT FRIENDS, it’s typical for us to say, “This guy’s my buddy,” or “He’s my close friend.” It’s even better when you can say, “He’s like my brother. Our bond is bigger than both of us.” To that point, we spent the better part of a day with beyond besties Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley in gorgeous Malibu, Calif. There was no shortage of snarky banter and hijinks as we traipsed through the rustic landscape and rocky creeks in Malibu Canyon, scaling terrain in the hopes of creating a memorable pictorial diary of the day. Ian and Paul are a few years removed from working side-by-side for eight seasons on the television phenomena that was The Vampire Diaries. The series ended its run in 2017. They’ve since moved on individually to other entertainment projects, but the impact they made on each other has kept them together. Both are family-oriented men and activists with a similar world view. Ian and Paul have established or worked for philanthropic groups for a number of years, and their efforts (individually and collectively) have impacted causes ranging from animal welfare, LGBT youth and climate change, to name a few. Ian was born in Covington, La., later making his way to Hollywood. He’s jokey and whip smart. He’s Louisiana Lightning in a bottle, full of humility, compassion and a variety of talents–least of which is his acting ability and work as a filmmaker. He’s been killing it from Lost to The Vampire Diaries to V Wars. Ian came from humble beginnings, with a front yard squared up against acres of virgin Louisiana marsh as far as the eye can see. He actually started acting in plays when he was seven years old, and realized he had a calling as an actor. (He also considered becoming a marine biologist at one point.) He headed West by the age of seventeen, and found his way into the fashion world as a model. That set the wheels in motion for the next twenty years or so, and he’s become one of the most popular actors of his generation.

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“WE’RE BROTHERS IN REAL LIFE, WE’RE BROTHERS ON-SCREEN, WE WERE BROTHERS OFF-SCREEN. THE ETHOS OF THE BRAND, OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT BROTHER’S BOND HAS AN AMAZING RING TO IT, THE ETHOS IS COMMUNITY.” -P.W.

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PAUL WAS BORN in New Brunswick, N.J., and he’s got that Jersey Boy cool. He exudes a genuine warmth and ease. He’s a guy you want to smoke a stick with and talk about real stuff. He’s a bit more laid back than Ian—unless he’s poking his compare with his sardonic wit. He’s not above cutting it up either. Paul began his theatre studies as a youngster in New York City, where he started honing skills that have served him well throughout his career. Paul’s professional start as an actor kicked off as a junior in high school when he landed a role on the soap opera Guiding Light in 1999. He’s been off and running ever since. Paul’s been successful as an actor in television and off-Broadway theatre, as well as working as a director and producer. (Paul began directing and producing in the fifth season of The Vampire Diaries.) He’s most recently been part of the television series Tell Me a Story as actor and director. Photo 12/Alamy.com

Ian and Paul are as fun-loving as any dynamic duo could be. Both have big hearts that inform their portfolio as award-winning actors, as well as their philanthropic endeavors.

>> Paul as Stefan Salvatore and Ian as Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries Season 7.

They’ve stayed connected through it all, and have shared experiences beyond their Hollywood lives. Recently, they decided to showcase their friendship to the world with Brother’s Bond Bourbon. It was a great excuse for all of us to talk cigars and bourbon.

Cigar & Spirits Magazine: Give us a snapshot on how the brand was born from working together on The Vampire Diaries. Paul: Yes. It was eight years. Too long. Way too long together. Ian: We were together eight years on the show, then the last three years… We’ve been together 11 years. It’s my longest relationship. Paul: That’s right. The only way to get through that is to drink a lot of bourbon. So we’re connoisseurs now. Ian: Actually, tremendous amounts of bourbon. We were stars of this very successful show. What’s great about it was we bonded with bourbon on-screen. And off-screen, too. It was the only way we could… Paul: Tolerate each other. Ian: We felt like a natural fit. Paul: We had been talking about doing a bourbon forever. Since the very existence of the show, and we just decided to make it come to fruition. Ian: We knew it was going to take a lot of time. Honestly man, we’d spend 60 to 80 hours on the set, and then we flew home every weekend. My wife and I were going to be having a baby soon, so we said, “Let’s just do this because we need to put everything into it.” Lo and behold, we put everything into it. This is an all-day, everyday thing for us.

You really could have developed any type of a spirits brand. Vodka, gin, etcetera. Why bourbon? Ian: It’s what our characters drank in the historic fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia. Paul: Which is in the South but we also–for my palate–I prefer bourbon. Ian: I preferred bourbon, too. It’s like in our veins at this point. Paul: Unfortunately for us, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it. Ian: Definitely fortunately. It’s an amazing spirit. Look, you have this spirit that uses a lot of the practices of what they were doing back in the motherland, in Ireland and in Scotland, but using what the frontiersmen had, which is a ton of corn, wheat, barley and rye. You get this sweet nectar of a spirit, right? Brother’s Bond Bourbon. So how did you come to the brand name? Paul: There was a lot of back and forth. It says so much in three words. Paul: Obviously, we’re brothers. We’re brothers in real life, we’re brothers on-screen, we were brothers off-screen. The ethos of the brand, other than the fact that Brother’s Bond has an amazing ring to it, the ethos is community. Ian: Right. It’s about community.

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“WE WANT A LOT OF PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD TO BE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE THIS TOGETHER, TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS, TO STRENGTHEN BONDS BOTH NEW AND OLD.” -I.S.

Paul: We created this bourbon so that people can enjoy it together. We want this to serve as a bond between your family, your friends, your loved ones, your partner–whatever it is–we want to create a sense of community. We want Brother’s Bond to bring a sense of togetherness. Ian: Honestly, we started this company at such a breakneck speed. We had a huge meeting with one of the single biggest retailers in the world. We had been going over all these names, and we just kept talking about these things. It’s community. In a time when we need togetherness more than any other time in history pretty much, this was the name that we settled on. Literally, the next morning I went out to these huge retailers and they loved it. We went, “All right, the name works.” We had literally just settled on it. Paul: Ultimately, neither one of us, and I’ll speak for myself¬–nah, I’ll speak for both of us–we wouldn’t have signed our names on it this if we didn’t believe in it. Whether it’s the label, the brand name, and certainly the product–the juice. We really believe in it. We spent a lot of time developing it. Everything you see, whether it’s the color, the shape of the bottle, the font, this is all stuff that Ian and I created. Ian: Every single nuance. Paul: There’s a lot of celebrity endorsements these days, and it’s become a bit of a fad. For us, it’s not an endorsement. It’s just something that we really created together. Ian loves to calls himself a celebrity. Ian: Actually, that’s what’s so funny. Typically, we don’t use that word, but for all intents and purposes… Paul: Well, there’s a stigma. Ian: It’s what you are, Paul. Paul: Thanks, buddy. Ian: No, but there’s a stigma. It’s like, “Oh, these two actors have a bourbon. What do they know about bourbon?” You’ve both lived and worked in the South. Bourbon is a way of life in the South, of course… Paul: Yes, we shot in Atlanta. Ian: It’s a brown spirit town, and it’s a brown spirits place. I love spirits in general. I think the art of making a spirit is amazing. Like you just asked, “Why didn’t you do a gin or a vodka?”

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CIGAR OF THE DAY

Cigar & Spirits Magazine selected the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos N0.2 and Don Carlos Robusto for the photo session. The Don Carlos is creamy and classic with tastes of cinnamon, cocoa, oak and spice. The cigar paired perfectly with Brother’s Bond Bourbon.The combination enhanced a memorable day of shared fun and bonding for all involved.

Photo by Audrey Pavia.

Bourbon, as you know is the most laborious, capital-intensive spirit. You can make gin and vodka, but aged brown spirits? That’s a whole other level. Paul: It’s an undertaking, for sure. Ian: The artistry’s not just in doing a new filling for the barrels. The artistry comes in the blending. We spent literally over a year obsessing about that flavor. How many different tastings do you think you guys went through? Ian: Hundreds. It was over a year. Hundreds. Paul: We were guided by a master blender. He helped us. Ian came in with a lot of knowledge as well. Frankly, he taught me a lot about the making of bourbon that I didn’t quite understand. I have a whole newfound appreciation for it. Ian: This is our dream, man. Being able to sit and talk to you about this liquid that we have worked so hard on to bring it to the world. I say this with all humility, we wanted to do something at scale. It’s craft and quality, but it’s at scale. We want a lot of people around the world to be able to experience this together, to have conversations, to strengthen bonds both new and old. You guys have a cause connected to the brand. Ian: Paul and I have done a lot of advocacy around the globe for years and years. In the animal space, in all sorts of spaces. One of the things that we realized is that regenerative agriculture can actually pull us away from this climate crisis. It’s called a process of biosequestration, by basically drawing down all the carbon dioxide from the air using living plants, agriculture, and storing it safely back in the ground where it belongs, and healing the soil. It’s a big swing and it’s a big deal.

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“IF WE CAN CONTRIBUTE TO HELPING THE PLANET, THAT’S AMAZING FOR ME. I THINK I WANT THE BROTHER’S BOND NAME TO GO BEYOND IAN AND MYSELF SO IT EXISTS ON ITS OWN.” -P.W.

As an agricultural company, Paul and I want to put our money where our mouth is and make sure that we are investing in that future. Which is, you’re never going to find an argument with helping farmers, building farmer prosperity, creating cleaner water and cleaner air. Paul: One of the things Ian always says, that I very much agree with, is that it’s sort of our moral responsibility to start a company and give back a portion of our profits towards a cause. I feel like that’s something that we all need to do. I don’t know if I would feel comfortable starting a company without giving a percentage towards something we believe in. Ian: But again, it goes back to community. This is about community. Women and men can sit and enjoy a drink, or cigar, or conversation but it’s about being together. I don’t mean to hit that nail on the head so many times but we’re in a time where we need together more than ever. Now is the time for what we’re doing. We’re so thrilled. This is like a dream for us. You both smoke quite often? Did you pair up cigars a lot when your bourbon brand process started? Ian: We had a lot of cigars. Paul: Yes, we had a lot of nights by the fireplace smoking cigars while sipping and tasting bourbon. You guys know how to have your fun. What’s your most memorable drinking moment when you were going through the development process? Paul: Ian, do you remember? We were in England, and we were in that crazy old haunted manor. We were smoking cigars and just hanging out. This was like a decade ago. Do you remember that, man? Ian: Yes. Paul: I remember that moment so vividly. Ian: That was pretty special. Paul: I think we were drinking bourbon. Ian: We were.

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Paul: Or some sort of a dark spirit. Ian: That whole trip for us was something. Do you remember the time we went to that restaurant? Paul: Yes. [laughs] Ian: We drank literally 50-year cognac and smoked cigars, but we were drinking bourbon when we were walking around. It’s one of the oldest castles left in the UK that’s functioning. It was built in 1307, and there is some real energy there. It’s like you feel stuff. Paul and I had a bottle of bourbon, we had cigars and we walked around. It was really cold and misty. We were just talking and connecting, and we drank this bottle and we smoked, and it was one of the most memorable times in my life. I remember thinking, “This is our life. This is my brother. We’re talking about real stuff.” We like to end some interviews talking about legacy. What legacy would you guys like to leave behind with Brother’s Bond Bourbon? Paul: If we can contribute to helping the planet, that’s amazing for me. I think I want the Brother’s Bond name to go beyond Ian and myself so it exists on its own. I think that all spirits should be shared. We should be drinking them with someone we care about. I really hope that our bourbon opens up new people. Whether female, younger, male, older–whatever it is. We want to grow into it and have people enjoy it. Ian: Bringing people together over the spirit. That’s what makes us really proud.

Randy Mastronicola is the Editor-in-Chief of Cigar & Spirits Magazine Lincoln Salazar is the Publisher and CEO of Cigar & Spirits Magazine

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SCAN HERE FOR EXCLUSIVE VIDEO CONTENT WITH IAN AND PAUL


T H E N E W E X P R E S S I O N O F S I N G L E M A LT F R O M T H E I S L E O F S K Y E

T H E P O W E R O F P E AT S M O K E, E L E G A N T LY T E M P E R E D O N T H E I S L E O F S K Y E

Imported by Marussia Beverages USA | Cedar Knolls, NJ | marussiabeveragesusa.com | Please Drink Responsibly


KETEL O

PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY. KETEL ONE Vodka. Distilled from Grain. 40% Alc/Vol. © Double Eagle Brands, B.V. Imported by Ketel One USA, Aliso Viejo, CA.

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ONE

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C&S

CIGAR BUYER’S GUIDE RATINGS ARE BASED ON THE AVERAGE BLIND TASTING SCORES OF EACH CIGAR BY A PANEL OF TEN CIGAR EXPERTS. THESE CONNOISSEURS POSSESS MORE THAN 100 YEARS OF COMBINED CIGAR-SMOKING EXPERIENCE.

To provide feedback on any of the ratings, or to offer your own opinions on any of the cigars featured, write us at: feedback@cigarandspirits.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and leave your comments: facebook.com/cigarandspiritsmagazine

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FOR YOUR HUMIDOR


94

CIGAR RATING

AGING ROOM PURA CEPA MEZZO 6 x 54 Toro Wrapper: Nicaraguan Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: The Mezzo is stout and dynamic cigar. The dark, oily wrapper is an eye-catcher and is great in the hand and to the taste. There are evident notes of chocolate and wood through the first half or so. It finishes pleasantly with vanilla, cashews and sweet hints of herbs.

91

CIGAR RATING

ALADINO COROJO RESERVA 5 x 50 Robusto Wrapper: Corojo Honduran Binder: Corojo Honduran Filler: Corojo Honduran Strength: Medium/Full Tasting Notes: This Aladino is chock full of flavor. Sweet cedar, earthy, floral and light pepper. There’s an abundance of finesse to this cigar and it expertly transitions to a finish that’s spicy, sweet and a touch of pepper.

95

CIGAR RATING

COHIBA HABANA CUBA 5 7/8 x 52 Cañonazo Wrapper: Cuba Binder: Cuba Filler: Cuba Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: This “cannon shot” of a cigar is full and spicy. It has notes of earth and botanicals. The finish is superbly earthy and smooth.

90

CIGAR RATING

COHIBA ROYALE TORO 6 x 50 Toro Wrapper: Nicaraguan (Jalapa) Binder: Dominican (Piloto Cubano) Filler: Honduran (Jamastran), Nicaraguan (Jalapa, Estelí) Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: The Royale Toro is oily and veiny with a round head and rough cap. The draw is superb with an even burn throughout. There are notes of zesty orange peel, vanilla, and a cedar woodiness.

91

CIGAR RATING

DAVIDOFF ROBUSTO INTENSO LIMITED EDITION 2020 5 5/8 x 52 Robusto Wrapper: Ecuadorian Binder: Dominican Filler: Dominican Strength: Medium/Full Tasting Notes: The Intenso has a rounded head and veiny wrapper–quite appealing to the eye. The draw is superb. There’s chocolate, oak and leather on the palate with touches of anise and spice. The burn remains even throughout.

92

CIGAR RATING

DÍAS DE GLORIA BY A.J. FERNANDEZ 6 x 58 Gordo Wrapper: Nicaraguan Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Full Tasting Notes: This resplendent 2019 release with its coffee aromas is a perfect nightcap. Salty, peppery and creamy come to mind when working through the cigar. It finishes a little strong but clean, crisp and delicious.

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90

CIGAR RATING

DIESEL CIGAR DELIRIUM 2020 LIMITED EDITION 6 x 52 Toro Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero and Ometepe Strength: Full Tasting Notes: This is a collaboration between Diesel Senior Brand Manager Justin Andres and AJ Fernandez. It’s the boldest Diesel to date. Delirium is a peppery smoke that delivers an abundance of spices, with hints of nuts and a touch of nougat on the palate.

90

CIGAR RATING

DON PEPIN GARCIA ORIGINAL 6 x 50 Toro Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo Oscuro Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Full Tasting Notes: The Don Pepin Original is manufactured by My Father Cigars. It’s a handsome and elegant cigar. There are notes of black licorice, maple syrup and apple cinnamon. The draw is sublime.

93

CIGAR RATING

DREW ESTATE HERRERA ESTELI EDICION LIMITADA 7 x 38 Lancero Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Binder: Honduran Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Full Tasting Notes: This Edicion Limitada is another gem in Blender Willy Herrera’s portfolio. The smoke billows easily and abundantly off this creamy and refined cigar. There are distinct notes of coffee, vanilla, allspice and cedar.

94

CIGAR RATING

DREW ESTATE HERRERA ESTELI MIAMI TORO ESPECIAL 6 x 52 Toro Wrapper: Ecuadorian Binder: Ecuadorian Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan Strength: Medium/Full Tasting Notes: This savory toro features a heady combination of cedar, cashews and dark chocolate almond. The rich espresso finish is a wonderful cap to a luxe smoke.

89

CIGAR RATING

GRAN HABANO HABANO #3 5 x 52 Robusto Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Binder: Nicaraguan Habano Filler: Nicaraguan, Mexican, Costa Rican Strength: Full Tasting Notes: This Gran Habano is rich, complex and unique with a hearty combination of coffee and spice flavors. It has hints of nutty smoothness with a long-lasting finish on the palate.

94

CIGAR RATING

HENRY CLAY WAR HAWK 6 x 50 Toro Wrapper: Ecuadorian Binder: Broadleaf Connecticut Filler: Honduran Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: This Henry Clay feels great in the hand with an oily wrapper and strong construction. It smokes in a creamy fashion with hints of banana, almonds and white pepper.

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95

CIGAR RATING

HOYO DE MONTERREY EPICURE NO. 2 5.5 x 52 Robusto Wrapper: Cuba Binder: Cuba Filler: Cuba Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: The cigar is a consistently medium, rarely comes off as strong. It features a most impressive draw, and loads of billowy smoke. It offers sweetness and cocoa throughout. A delightful and classic Cuban cigar.

94

CIGAR RATING

JOYA DE NICARAGUA NÚMERO UNO LE PREMIER 6 7/8 x 48 Churchill Wrapper: Ecuadorian Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: The lightly colored wrapper and fan-tail cap make this such an inviting cigar. It’s sweet and a bit sticky (in a tasty way) at the start and hints of nuts, caramel and toffee are evident throughout. The citrus notes work in perfectly at the finish.

93

CIGAR RATING

LA AURORA CIGARS 1903 EDITION PAREJO BROADLEAF 5 x 50 Robusto Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Binder: Dominican Cibao Valley Filler: Dominican Cibao Valley, Nicaraguan Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: This 1903 is a bold and tasty smoke. Chock full of woodsy, creamy and spicy flavors. It shines at the finish with hints of nuts and citrus notes.

87

CIGAR RATING

LA MIRADA CIGARS 5 x 50 Robusto Deseo Wrapper: True Connecticut Shade Binder: Capote Cubano (Criollo 98) Filler: Seco CC–Criollo 98, Viso Piloto Cubano, Piloto Cubano Canela Criollo 98 Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: The lighter characteristics of Connecticut Shade at the start lead into the Piloto Cubano and Canela fillers nicely. The cigar grows into more complex notes of cinnamon and coffee at the finish.

93

CIGAR RATING

LA MISSION L’ATELIER 1959 4 3/4 x 52 Wrapper: Mexican Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: The 1959 is simply a gorgeous cigar. It’s impressive with a sturdy box-pressing, and a pigtail cap. The oily and dark Mexican San Andrés wrapper is perfectly in sync with the 1959 giving it a traditional feel and taste. It has notes of anise, sweet spice with just enough mesquite smokiness to get your attention.

92

CIGAR RATING

MONTECRISTO 1935 ANNIVERSARY NICARAGUA 6 x 54 Toro Wrapper: Nicaraguan Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Medium/Full Tasting Notes: This anniversary tribute developed by blending icons Grupo De Maestros, Rafael Nodal and A.J. Fernandez is an homage to the 85 years of the legendary Montecristo cigar. It’s a creamy blend with elegant dark chocolate, vanilla bean and a little spice.

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90

CIGAR RATING

NUB CAMEROON 460 4 x 60 Wrapper: Cameroon Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: This fireplug of a cigar features a nice draw once you get past the fussy start. The notes of oats, brown sugar and cedar offer a rather unique smoking experience.

94

CIGAR RATING

OLIVA SERIE V LANCERO 7 x 38 Panetela Wrapper: Nicaraguan Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Medium/Full Tasting Notes: The Serie V Lancero is elegant and slim, and is worthy of the Serie V lineage that’s pleased cigar lovers over a number of years. This hearty cigar has some zest, delivers a good amount of smoke, and features consistent notes of milk chocolate, almonds and hints of spice.

92

CIGAR RATING

OLIVEROS GRAN RETORNO SHADE 6 x 50 “Swing” Wrapper: Honduran Connecticut Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Mild/Medium Tasting Notes: The Gran Retorno is a re-invigorated release from the previous Aging Room Oliveros series. The cigar’s evolution is unique in that the tobacco was initially aged for two years, then aged in Plasencia’s aging room for six months. Subsequently, they were packaged and sent to Tampa, where they aged in their boxes for 33 months. It’s a nice backstory to a delicious, expertly crafted and sweet spot cigar you should seek out.

93

CIGAR RATING

OSCAR VALLADARES SUPERFLY MADURO 6 x 54 Toro Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Binder: Honduran Filler: Dominican, Honduran, Nicaraguan Strength: Full Tasting Notes: This Oscar is a very full blend. You’ll be on board (as we are) if you like a creamy cigar that’s peppery, spicy and features hints of cocoa. There’s a pinch of allspice, too.

90

CIGAR RATING

PADILLA FINEST HOUR CONNECTICUT ROBUSTO 5 x 50 Robusto Wrapper: Ecuadorian Binder: Honduran Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan Strength: Mild/Medium Tasting Notes: There are evident sweet chocolate and vanilla notes throughout this pleasant Connecticut cigar. It’s a gentle ride with a lot of billowing smoke. The finish lingers with cocoa and citrus.

94

CIGAR RATING

PLASENCIA CIGARS ALMA DEL FUEGO FLAMA 6.5 x 38 Panatela Wrapper: Nicaraguan Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Medium/Full Tasting Notes: The volcanic soils stemming from the iconic Ometepe Island in Nicaragua inform this cigar. There are hints of spice, tangerine, roasted cashews and guava wood. The sun-grown wrappers from fields in the Jalapa Valley enhance this elegant cigar’s strength and sweetness.

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94

CIGAR RATING

ROCKY PATEL NUMBER 6 CORONA 6 x 44 Wrapper: Honduran, Nicaraguan Binder: Honduran Filler: Honduran Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: This Rocky Patel offering is a highly lauded cigar and deserving of the accolades it receives. This tasty and handsome-looking cigar has an excellent draw creating a significant amount of sweet smoke. There are notes of caramel, orange peel and dark cocoa throughout leading to a nutty finish.

92

CIGAR RATING

ROOM101 DOOMSAYER PASSIVE SUPER TORO 6 x 55 Toro Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Binder: Indonesian Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan, Ecuadorian Strength: Medium Tasting Notes: The Doomsayer is a jazzy combination featuring aromatic cinnamon, cocoa and coffee throughout. The smoke offers formidable construction and holds its ash extremely well.

92

CIGAR RATING

SOBREMESA BRÛLÉE BLUE BRAND CORONA 6.25 x 46 Corona Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade Binder: Mexican (Matacapan negro de Temporal) Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Mild/Medium Tasting Notes: The Sobremesa Brûlée Blue is a stellar cigar. It’s a creamy smoke with evident flavors of cedar, light chocolate, earth and leather throughout the cigar. There’s a hint of cinnamon on the finish. The draw is perfect all the way with an impressive ash.

92

CIGAR RATING

STALLONE CIGARS ALAZAN COROJO ROBUSTO BOX PRESS 5 x 54 Robusto Wrapper: Corojo Brazilian Binder: Ecuadorian Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Medium/Full Tasting Notes: This Stallone robusto is a creamy cigar. You’ll enjoy a nutty profile of earthy almonds and cashews. It features a bit of salt and toffee rounding out a fairly complex cigar. The Corojo Brazilian wrapper is an eye-catcher and this box-pressed cigar feels great in the hand.

91

CIGAR RATING

STALLONE CIGARS NEGRO MADURO ROBUSTO BOX PRESS 5 x 52 Robusto Wrapper: Maduro Nicaraguan Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Medium/Full Tasting Notes: This bold cigar is flavorful with hints of pepper, dark cacao, sweet spices and smokes out with a comforting leathery scent.

93

CIGAR RATING

SCAN HERE FOR THE #1 RATED CIGAR IN THE ISSUE

TATUAJE MEXICAN EXPERIMENT II 5.7 x 50 Toro Wrapper: Mexican San Andréan Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: Nicaraguan Strength: Full Tasting Notes: The ME II is a handsome and strong cigar. The wrapper feels just about perfect between the fingers and there’s a substantial amount of smoke throughout. Hay, leather and earth comprise the taste profile. It’s an enhanced re-boot to the original ME II from 2012. WWW.CIGARANDSPIRITS.COM

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FOR YOUR HOME BAR

SPRING SPIRITS BUYER’S GUIDE

To provide feedback on any of the ratings, or to offer your own opinions on any of the spirits featured, write us at: feedback@cigarandspirits.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and leave your comments: facebook.com/cigarandspiritsmagazine

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@CigarSpiritsMag


93

92

94

SPIRIT RATING

SPIRIT RATING

SPIRIT RATING

Hudson Whiskey Bourbon

Keeper’s Coin 16-year-old Single Malt

92

94

SPIRIT RATING

Journeyman Distillery

Oak Devil

93

SPIRIT RATING

Garrison Brothers

SPIRIT RATING

Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum

HUDSON WHISKEY BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG BOURBON

JOURNEYMAN DISTILLERY FINE GIRL BRANDY

DUBLIN LIBERTIES DISTILLERIES KEEPER’S COIN 16-YEAR-OLD SINGLE MALT

GARRISON BROTHERS BALMORHEA BOURBON (2020 RELEASE)

DUBLIN LIBERTIES DISTILLERIES OAK DEVIL

HOLMES CAY SINGLE CASK RUM BARBADOS 2005 LIMITED EDITION LUXURY RUM

MSRP: $39.99 | ABV: 46% This bold, grain-forward, bourbon whiskey is a winner. It’s distilled from New York corn and aged in newly charred American oak barrels. The rich vanilla nose leads you all the way through a salted caramel finish. Along the way you’ll experience notes of stone fruit, corn bread, caramel and cashew. The finish is superbly long and lingering after your final sip.

MSRP: $159.99 I ABV: 46% The Keeper’s Coin offers aromas of soft toffee, fudge, toasted hazelnuts, and baked banana with sea salt caramel. On the palate, poached pear and big fruity notes of dried apricots dominate. The dark, auburn hue is imparted by Pedro Ximénez 250-liter hogshead casks in which the whiskey finally rests. The finish is smooth and rounded with honeyed sweetness.

MSRP: $49.99 I 46% The 5-year-old blend of malt & grain whiskey is full of aromas of baked apples, fresh hay and warm brown sugar. It gives way to flavors of toffee apples, cider and caramel before a finish full of gentle nutmeg, cinnamon and lingering sweetness, imparted by years in high-quality American oak casks.

MSRP: $50 | ABV: 45% Fine Girl Brandy gets its start as Vidal Blanc grapes from St. Julian Winery. The result is a full-flavored brandy that sweetly blends the complex flavors of oak and grapes. Green apple and honey are present upon first taste, melon comes through as the flavor opens up with a creamy finish and a kiss of vanilla from the oak barrel.

MSRP: $160 | ABV: 57.5% Balmorhea is the only twice-barreled bourbon in the Garrison Brothers portfolio released on an annual basis. It includes a mélange of what the brand refers to as the “Dairy Queen toppings.” Described by bourbon, candy, frozen fudgesicle bars, amaretto, coffee with cream, sticky buns and pecan brittle. All topped off with tastes of thick, white chocolate syrup.

MSRP: $149 | ABV: 64% The Single Cask Rum starts with a nose of brown sugar and butterscotch and moves forward on the palate with notes of caramelized toffee, tangerine and vanilla. There’s a crisp mouthfeel leading to a light woody finish with a heft of peppery spice.

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94

93

SPIRIT RATING

SPIRIT RATING

Panamá Pacific Rum

Jose Cuervo Reserva

94

SPIRIT RATING

Garrison Brothers

90

SPIRIT RATING

92

90

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SPIRIT RATING

Cutwater Rayador

Tiki Lovers

PANAMÁ PACIFIC RUM 23 YEARS

MSRP: $65 | ABV: 42.3% This rum opens with aromas of vanilla, tannins and sugar. It tastes as if toasted in Irish butter that melds with coconut, banana and cherry-almond pastry. The palate presents a delicate caramel butter, before a bright warmth leading to rich wood, a little more cherry-almond, then crushed cacao nibs. The delicious dessert notes fade into wood in the finish.

JOSE CUERVO RESERVA DE LA FAMILA

MSRP: $150 | ABV: 40% The dark amber hue of this fine reserva is an eye-catcher. The tastes and aromas feature warm hints of oak, almonds, apples, vanilla and cinnamon. The toasted almond finish is long and silky.

GARRISON BROTHERS HONEYDEW BOURBON

MSRP: $89.99 | ABV: 40% The HoneyDew is processed from 176 four-year-old emptied Garrison Brothers Small Batch Bourbon barrels, and mellowed in stainless-steel tanks for seven months. It’s further rprocessed by emptying the bourbon barrels into small wooden cubes and immersed in Burleson’s Texas Wildflower Honey. This complex process creates flavors of sweet elderberry syrup, yellow-fleshed peaches, apricots, white chocolate, and delicious Texas honey.

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Smoky Quartz

CUTWATER RAYADOR TEQUILA REPOSADO

MSRP: $40 | ABV: 40% The elegant and precise nature of the Rayador, also known as the Black Skimmer sea bird, served as the inspiration for Cutwater Tequila. The 100% blue agave is harvested from Jalisco. It’s slowly cooked in traditional brick ovens, open fermented, and double distilled in traditional “alambique” stills made of stainless and copper in tequila. The rich cooked agave flavor melds nicely with hints of vanilla and oak to create a gluten-free spirit.

TIKI LOVERS DARK RUM

MSRP: $35 | ABV: 57% A complex, rich and masculine rum with hints of vanilla, dark fruit, molasses and spice. This Tiki clearly evokes flavors of the Caribbean Islands.

SMOKY QUARTZ DISTILLERY V5 ‘SMALL BATCH’ BOURBON

MSRP: $30 | ABV: 45% The V5 is a sweet and flavorful bourbon. It has creamy and mild notes of oak and vanilla that leads into spice. The bourbon finishes rich, warm and long with very little burn.


Fugitives

94

93

93

SPIRIT RATING

SPIRIT RATING

SPIRIT RATING

Ron Barceló

93

WhistlePig X

91

SPIRIT RATING

SPIRIT RATING

93

SPIRIT RATING

Coconut Cartel

Fighting 69th

FUGITIVES TENNESSEE WALTZ WHISKEY

MSRP: $60 | ABV: 45.5% The Waltz is a bold blend. The aromas of spice, oak and pear are delicate. It has a full flavor with hints of fig and chocolate along with a pronounced note of sweet caramel on the finish.

RON BARCELÓ IMPERIAL PREMIUM BLEND 30 ANIVERSARIO

MSRP: $125.00 | ABV: 43% The 30 is distilled in the Dominican Republic from the fermented juice of freshly cut estate-grown sugar cane. It has exceptional flavor, robustness and complexity. This Limited Edition (only 600 bottles are allocated annually to the United States) is a keeper. The rich, enveloping aromas of dried fruits, vanilla and caramel are sublime.

WHISTLEPIG X FLAVIAR CHEF’S BLEND 2019 12 YEAR OLD

MSRP: $130 | ABV: 43% Four James Beard Award-nominated chefs; Michael Gulotta of MOPHO/Maypop fame in New Orleans; Jamie Malone from Minneapolis’ stunning Grand Café; David Posey-one half of the dream team at Elske, Chicago; and Justin Woodward of Castagna in Portland; worked together at the WhistlePig Farm in Shoreham, Vermont to create WhistlePig X Flaviar Chef’s Blend. It has notes of plums, cherries and vanilla. There are gentle cinnamon aromatics on the nose. The palate is spicy, with pipe tobacco and honey up front, giving way to dark fruits, and has a wonderful velvety texture. The finish is long and fruity, with a fantastic burst of rye spice.

Woodford Reserve

COCONUT CARTEL COCONUT CARTEL SPECIAL

MSRP: $38 | ABV: 40% This Cartel is a single-origin 100% Guatemalan rum blend. It’s aged up to 12 years and distilled in copper column stills. The spirit is blended and bottled in Guatemala City and “smuggled” into the USA via the Port of Miami. The aromas of vanilla, caramel and coconut are rich. It’s medium-long finish is smooth, soft and offers a sweet and oaky tang taste.

FIGHTING 69TH IRISH WHISKEY

MSRP: $35 | ABV: 40% The Fighting 69th is matured in once-used bourbon casks for a minimum of three years, and finished in a variety of other casks like Port and Sherry Oloroso. It’s a uniquely finished blend that results in a fine distillate that is both of robust character and a full smooth finish. On the palate it has hints of nuttiness, butterscotch, and sweet notes from the port and sherry casks. The Fighting 69th Regiment’s Historical Trust receives a portion of the proceeds for each bottle sold.

WOODFORD RESERVE CHOCOLATE MALTED RYE

MSRP: $129 | ABV: 45.2% The Chocolate Malted Rye in Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection is a limited selection expression. The blend utilizes innovative bourbon-making techniques by toasting the rye grain long enough to achieve a chocolatey finish. It delivers as a unique and elegant sipping experience.

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92

89

94

SPIRIT RATING

SPIRIT RATING

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The GlenDronach Revival Malt Scotch

Mad March Hare

Oregon Spirit

94

94

92

SPIRIT RATING

SPIRIT RATING

SPIRIT RATING

Heaven’s Door

Blanton’s Whiskey

Havana Club

THE GLENDRONACH REVIVAL MALT SCOTCH AGED 15 YEARS

HEAVEN’S DOOR STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY

OREGON SPIRIT WHEAT WHISKEY

BLANTON’S WHISKEY ORIGINAL SINGLE BARREL BOURBON WHISKEY

MSRP: $93 | ABV: 46% The GD 15 displays a gorgeous antique bronze to the eye, and is a richly complex blend. It leads with a burst of maraschino cherry, ripe blackberries and dark chocolate on the nose with hints of mint, orange bitters and walnut liqueur. The flavor offers intense notes of ripe dark fruits and manuka honey evolving into an elegant silk-velvet chocolate finish.

MSRP: $40 | ABV: 45% A rich and smooth whiskey with notes of cinnamon, sweet kettle corn and strong vanilla flavor on the palate.

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C&S

THE CIGAR BOX GUITAR REVIVAL DAVID SU TTON ’S CB G OB SE SSION

’s young , David Sutton go a rs ea y en playing doz d interest in se es pr ex er t daugh -based tton, a Chicago the guitar. Su ian, owned amateur music d n a er ph ra t he thought photog ge guitars, bu ta in v ul if t mething some beau hter off on so ug da is h rt a he should st ss valuable. smaller–and le

A

by Joe Bosso

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Photo courtesy of David Sutton.

CBG >> David Sutton created this e in order to demonstrate alternativ rs and tune The es. niqu tech ing build and neck materials–like the hardware box–are all salvaged.


>> Diane Sutliff of Chicago built this threestring acoustic/electric cigar box guitar using a diminutive Casa Torano cigar box.

>> The neck of Aroma de Cuba this cig box was made ar fro ancient maple fro m m very fine home a tha was over a hund t red years old.

Photos courtesy of David Sutton. Photo courtesy of Marc Hauser.

“I’d had some experience in woodworking, and I had vaguely heard of these things called cigar box guitars–these three or four-stringed instruments made from cigar boxes,” he recalls. “So I decided to see if I could build one myself.”

>> David Sutton is an “obsessed” craftsman of cigar box guitars.

After doing some Googling, Sutton found some basic information on building a cigar box guitar. “The biggest issue was locating the right boxes,” he says. “But once I located some nice cedar boxes, I was off and running. I really enjoyed the process.” So much so that he built two models, one for his daughter and the other for himself. It didn’t take long for Sutton to become a passionate cigar box guitar aficionado, and he discovered that there was an underground community of enthusiasts. So he decided to spread the word: His

first book, Cigar Box Guitars, published in 2012, is a comprehensive, step-bystep guide to cigar box guitar building. A year later, he followed it with the photopacked An Obsession with Cigar Box Guitars, a lovingly detailed look at over 120 unconventional, handmade stringed instruments. (The book’s second edition, titled Obsessed with Cigar Box Guitars, was published in 2019.) “It’s a whole wide world out there of cigar box guitars,” says Sutton. “Some people make simple diddley bow-type instruments, while other folks get really elaborate with their electronics. You’ve got people who play them on their back porches, but there’s even big-time guitar stars who play them in concert. I just enjoy building them. You don’t have to be a master craftsman to put something together with your own hands–and it’s something you can play! What could be better than that?”

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>> Aroma de Cuba cigar boxes are a favorite choice in David’s craft.

You mentioned cedar before. Is it the best wood to use? Without a doubt. If you can get a good cedar box, you have the basis for a great cigar box guitar. Where can people get cedar cigar boxes? You need to look around. I can’t tell you the exact date, but somewhere in the 50s or 60s, cigar companies started making cigar boxes out of laminated wood or cardboard instead of solid cedar. You can find cedar boxes at estate sales, on eBay or at garage sales–things like that. They turn up. They’re not super common, but they’re not rare.

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Photos courtesy of David Sutton.

Are some people surprised that they can pick up a cigar box guitar and make music from it rather quickly? Absolutely! Because they’re usually turned to an open tuning, making chords is easy. And the guitars are perfect for rudimentary slide playing. You don’t have to be a brilliant musician to have fun with one of these things. For most people, the most complicated aspect at first is learning how to tune the instrument, but there are apps for that. If you’re building a cigar box guitar, you’re probably interested in music, so your ear might already be developed and you can tune it by yourself.

But that shouldn’t discourage people from using other boxes. If you want the experience of building a cigar box guitar, by all means use a contemporary cigar box that’s made from laminated wood. It’ll sound fine. You’re not trying to build a Martin guitar; you’re just trying to make something you can make music with. So you can walk into any cigar store and ask them for their empties. They might want a dollar or two, but they’ll sell them to you. And I’ll tell you, there’s been at least one occasion when I’ve gone behind a cigar store and found some good boxes in a dumpster. So they’re like, “Who’s that weird guy looking through our trash?” That’d be me. [Laughs] Now, if you want to build something that sounds particularly good, you can look for boxes that date back to the 20s, 30s or 40s. >> This CBG is one of collector Bill Jehle’s favorites. It’s ukulele-sized with four strings and CBG dates back to the early twentieth century.


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BILLY GIBBON S ON ED HIS “ FOU R-ST R ING ” T HING OF BE AU T Y ds like Lightnin’ What do music legen , Jimi Hendrix, Bo Hopkins, Carl Perkins ? Guy have in common Diddley and Buddy

years, box guitars. In recent All once played cigar g yin pla up d rtney turne no less than Paul McCa nny Joh by him to been given one (rumored to have y. tar en cum do y Sound Cit Depp) in Dave Grohl’s blues sts include Joe Perry, sia thu en t Other curren rpsha p’s h and ZZ To guitarist Samantha Fis Gibbons. ly Bil n ma dressed main for ns about his affection We chatted with Gibbo this musical curio. tar? kes a good cigar box gui In your vie w, what ma tered en of cigar boxes have Many different types l na guitars. My perso the realm of becoming the wooden cigar box. preference is toward is and solidity, but there Not only for strength ce an pealing to the reson something tonally ap ple wooden cigar box. of what makes up a sim d, and h that big bottom en There’s a richness wit e a big lik there ain’t nothing as everybody knows, butt. [Laughs] r vie w– w do the y dif fer in you That’s poetry, man. Ho ditional tra l cal uld what we wo and to your ears–from resonator-type guitars? w range of what we’re no In the present day, the the rs, ita gu x y of cigar bo calling the communit ht tion to select a straig op the bonus is having of on ati bin x, or the com box or a resonator bo five the n see ’ve strings, we both. We’ve seen three m fro up p ste is kind of the strings. The cigar box the ukulele.

Your cigar box guitar is one of Kurt’s? That would be the one of his four-string creations. It’s a four-stringed thing of beauty. >> Sharp-dresse d I’ve taken it man Billy Gibbon s wo rki ng the his CBG. around world with me. I’ve played it t in front of governmen , DC, down to Brazil, ton ng shi Wa in officials n uth America, and the down to the tip of So me na u yo , nce ris, Fra to London, Spain, Pa rt companion. lwa sta l rea a en it. It’s be

guitars? interested in cigar box When did you become oen, Sch airline pilot, Kurt It came about via an tique an e his collection of who decided to salvag e. She wif at the behest of his wooden cigar boxes out d ure m out unless he fig wanted to throw the ow all n them. Rather tha something to do with tered sed into a bin, he en tos his collection to be into xes and turned his bo a guitar building class of e on e . He’s now becom playable instruments ar cig l cal of what we would the premier crafters box guitars.

the s the fact that he had What I really liked wa . cks materials to make ne boxes, but he had no ld fie ighbor had an open He discovered his ne were en fence posts. They surrounded by wood ce fencing, and so the fen going to replace the skills. ng Kurt’s guitar-maki posts were donated to a es Kurt Schoen includ Every cigar box from out d ce of wood fashione hundred-year-old pie nt wa u about as real as yo of a fence post. That’s to get.

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>> Bo D

iddley

box guitars? Do you have other cigar e. That’s been on the ed I’ve only need an the one. We did add we so p ku electronic pic think I d an can amplify it, h that wit ed we’re all satisfi ite qu ’re transition. We ple. happy keeping it sim p that Is the re a par tic ular am th your it works really well wi cigar box guitar? Well, there’s a newly m revised series amps fro ll we y pla t tha ne ato Magn ic ctr ele rs, ita gu ic ctr with ele organs, even electric g drums. So I can just plu the o int r ita gu x bo ar my cig nds Magnatone and it sou ying pla e lov I l. ifu aut just be autiful that box–it’s just a be guitar thing. The cigar box to stay. phenomenon is here

>> Paul McCartn

ey

>> Samantha Fish

>> Jimi Hendrix

>> Steven Tyler


You detail the process of building cigar box guitars in your books. Are some novice builders intimidated if they don’t know pickups and electronics? They can be, but it’s really simple. You don’t even need a magnetic pickup; all you need is a thing called a piezo buzzer, which you can get online. This turns vibrations into electricity and sends them to a jack that you’ve screwed to the inside of your box that you plug into an amplifier. But you don’t have to make it electric if you don’t want to. You can take a basic fretless cigar box guitar made from a contemporary plywood box and string it with heavy strings–perfect for slide playing. And it makes plenty of sound for anyone’s living room or basement or den. But as I said, I do like cedar because it resonates so well.

Photo courtesy of David Sutton.

n >> CAO cigar boxes are a Sutto g favorite. This CBG is a three-strin are made for his daughter. The frets a spaced in a chromatic pattern like play. dulcimer, making it very simple to

Have you seen the audience grow and change for cigar box guitars over the past few years? For the first six or seven years that I was involved, I noticed a lot of forums starting up. There’s Cigar Box Nation by Shane Speal, and that’s an incredible site. More than anyone, Shane is responsible for the recent popularization of cigar box guitars. The history of them is quite rich. They started before you had factory-built guitars; people built them because they wanted something to play. That changed in the 50s and 60s. The economy and manufacturing were booming; people were back from the war and they wanted what was new. Factory-built guitars became more available and were less of a specialist item. You could buy a guitar from the Sears catalogs and things like that. And people weren’t interested in something that you built yourself. And fewer and fewer people had the skills. To your knowledge, have any cigar box guitars sold for big money? Not that I’ve heard. And that’s a funny thing: There are people making cigar box guitars to sell–you see them on Etsy or eBay. I find that anathema, because to me, the point of a cigar box guitar is to be able to make music with something that you built with your own hands. That’s where the true joy is, to be able to say, “I built this!” Is there an average of how long it takes to build one? It really depends on the complexity of the guitar. You can build a simple one in a day–at most a weekend. Mine tend to take weeks because I get distracted. I build guitars when I can carve out 15 minutes here or there. Have you had any nightmares, where you had a really nice box and you made one wrong move and broke the thing? Yeah. That’s pretty much a given, but the materials are so cheap. You break a box, it’s like, “OK, we’ve got some kindling here.”

New Jersey native Joe Bosso is obsessed with movies of the 70s, music of the 60s and cigars of any vintage. A graduate of NYU film school, Joe has written for TV shows you definitely know (like The Sopranos) and a few you might have missed. He spent 10 years in the record business and actually got to see a rock star trash a hotel room (identity withheld because, well, you know...).

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BEHIND THE LEAF

ALAN RUBIN OF ALEC BRADLEY CIGARS TWENTY-FIVE YEARS IN, AND THE FUTURE IS NOW

by Randy Mastronicola

ALEC BR ADLEY CIGARS is celebrating twenty-five years in the cigar industry this year. This is no small feat in the competitive cigar industry as we know it today. I’ve come to know Alec Bradley Cigars, first as a brand fan, and now as industry colleagues, over the past eight years. Their beginnings were fairly humble, and they experienced a learning curve, with some trial and error. Two-and-a-half decades after they started, the company is globally respected, is thriving and is one of the top innovators in the industry. Alan Rubin is the architect of the Alec Bradley brand. His vision as founder of the company is compelling, as our conversation shows. >> Alan Rubin with sons Alec (left) and Bradley (right).

If you don’t have more wisdom after twenty-five years, you might as well just fold your tent. I know your previous endeavors weren’t related to the industry. You were an outsider. My prior career couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed to the cigar business. I was in a business that was based on price and service. Then I came into a business that’s all about being a brand. Without question, creating a brand that people know, enjoy and trust, it’s a very difficult task. I wasn’t really thinking about that when I got in this business, but it’s been an amazing journey to try and take a brand name and bring it out to the general public. Most people who enjoy cigars know who we are and what we do.

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Photos courtesy of Alec Bradley Cigars.

Randy Mastronicola: Twenty-five years in the cigar industry now. Congratulations. Not too shabby. How does that resonate for you? Alan Rubin: It surely doesn’t feel like it’s been twenty-five years. Sometimes I look back and I start thinking I feel like I’ve been in the business three or four years. It’s still exciting. I’m still very passionate about it. I think there’s more wisdom in my decisions after twenty-five years, but it feels like it’s still new to me. I still enjoy it, I think to the level of when I started. Actually, probably more.


>> Alec Bradley Cigars has been lauded for their creative ads over the years.

“I’M STILL VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT IT. I THINK THERE’S MORE WISDOM IN MY DECISIONS AFTER TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, BUT IT FEELS LIKE IT’S STILL NEW TO ME.”

Photos courtesy of Alec Bradley Cigars.

The cigar community really took to you. They did. They opened their hearts to me. We don’t just do business. It’s about family. Initially, I thought being an industry outsider was a detriment. Then I came to realize that there was a benefit in being the gringo who kept coming back. It gave me a higher level of credibility and respect to have the partnerships that I built. They must have been thinking, “This guy Alan just keeps showing up.” [laughs]

Which cigar or cigars do you feel really helped you imprint on the industry? When you knew you’ d arrived. We had some stepping stones. We came out with Trilogy–a triangular cigar. It was new to the market. It had colorful packaging in a world of many tones of brown. We had three very brightly packaged products on the shelf, and because the cigar was triangular, it was different. The Trilogy was a bit of an eye-opener to the industry and made people notice.

I think traditional people in the industry can tell when someone’s jumping in wallet first versus heart first. As you moved forward a little bit, in terms of your first few blends, there must have been some trepidation. You’re reliant upon other people, and as you’re wading through the process, you start to realize some people are more trustworthy than others. They are there for the long haul, like you are, and you partner with them as time goes on. It’s not like it is today. Today there’s so much information out there, and if somebody wants to get in the business, they can easily look up all the manufacturers and make contact. It wasn’t like that twenty-five years ago.

But if I had to give you one cigar that put us on the map as a company, it would be Tempest Natural. I remember looking over at Ralph Monteiro, who’s my vice president, and we didn’t say anything. I just looked at him, kind of nodded my head like, “This is it.” He raised his eyebrows, kind of like, “I hear you.” We knew we had something special, we had something different. It was just a go. It was a flavor profile we’d never had, a style we had never had, and I knew at that moment this was our future.

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>> The Rubins enjoying some family camaraderie. Left to right: Alec, Bradley and Alan.

The company made a bit of a style change because that cigar is in the traditional style category. [The highly lauded Prensado was created as an homage to the Cuban traditional cigar.] We decided to move forward in that direction because the direction was proven, but I never wanted to stop dreaming about something I could bring to market. That would’ve taken the passion away from me.

Alec Bradley consumers are sophisticated. Connoisseurs don’t care about generational or this or that–they make a connection to a fine cigar, and brand in your case. I think Alec and Bradley are saying to the audience that this is a passion. People who want to know what is new and exciting, who are the new players and the new manufacturers, who are the new blenders in the market—they’re excited to see what’s new. I really think that’s who Alec and Bradley are speaking to. Not that we don’t try to do that overall as a company, but they drill down a little bit more. They’ve been a little bit more hyper-focused on consumers who are really entrenched within the industry.

“WE CHALLENGE EACH OTHER EVERY DAY, AND THAT’S NOT JUST FOR ALEC AND BRADLEY. THAT’S EVERYBODY WITHIN OUR ORGANIZATION.”

Do you ever think about how creating a new cigar will make an impact on the industry in terms of a trend? Or you don’t go that far with it in your initial vision at the beginning? Oh, it’s not in the window that I look through as to how it will impact the industry because I don’t know. There’s no real formula. Sometimes it’s just in our minds. What are we looking for? What is the flavor that we’re looking to achieve? Then, when you head in that direction and you finally hit it, you start to say, “Okay, what is it going to look like?” An example would be Black Market. On the Black Market line, we had been working with Panamaian tobacco for just around two years. We’re already here in terms of the next-gen. Your sons, Alec and Bradley, have taken on large-scale roles these days. [Alan named the company in their honor.] What do you feel they bring as influencers to the brand? What is their vision with blends? They bring a lot. Not only to the company, but I believe they’re going to bring a lot to the industry. One of the things we always talk about is that generally, cigar smokers don’t like to be separated into categories. They’ve always just considered themselves cigar smokers. With that being said, when Alec and Bradley are doing their own lines and blends, and their own packaging, I don’t think what they’re doing is necessarily speaking to a younger audience per se. I think they’re speaking to an audience for who this is more than just a casual hobby.

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If you had to say, “Okay, these are the life lessons, important things that I’ve shared with my sons that they took to heart…” I think that’s a deep question. Yes, you’re a dad first. [laughs] I would say first and foremost, deal with integrity. I think the other, which is very important in business but especially in our business, is don’t forget to listen.

That’s great advice. I think if there were a couple of other lessons, one would be to say what you’re going to do, and do what you say. Have the integrity to do the right thing. The other would be to listen to the knowledge around you. There’s plenty of it. When you’re young, if you think you’re the smartest guy in the room, go find a new room. Yes. The way we term it is that if everyone in the room says, “Yes,” no one else needs to be in the room. We challenge each other every day, and that’s not just for Alec and Bradley. That’s everybody within our organization. I think Alec and Bradley realize they’re challenging me now. They’re asking “Why are we doing this?” or saying “I think there’s a better way to do it.” I’ll ask why, and if I like where they’re going—it may be equal to what I wanted to do but maybe just a different path to get there—I’ll succumb and say, “Okay, look, let’s try your way.”

Photos courtesy of Alec Bradley Cigars.

You’re creative, your campaigns, your art on the bands...there’s such a range. Some of your marketing is elegant, traditional and classic–then you go edgy and it works because it gets noticed. MAXX and Trilogy were marketed back then. That was probably more of the style of me, personally, which was not traditional. It was a little more out there. If I could dream it, I wanted to bring it to market. Then Prensado came out.


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THE FUTURE REALLY IS NOW ALEC AND BRADLEY RUBIN

Also, I know it may sound clichéd, but no risk, no reward. When Bradley and I were starting Alec & Bradley, we both put out the money for our production. I sometimes question if our products would have been just as good if we hadn’t accepted the risk and put our own money on the line. Either way, the risk was definitely worth the reward. Randy Mastronicola: Bradley, tell us about what’s on tap for 2021. New releases, customer engagement… Bradley Rubin: 2021 will be an exciting year at Alec Bradley. We have some new “core product” on the horizon, as well as some limited-edition cigars. Bringing out new and exciting concepts is one of the best parts about being in this industry. It’s what gets me excited about going to work every day. We’re still waiting to see what we’re able to do for “in-person” events. Safety and health have been our focus, and we wouldn’t want to put anyone at risk. We will continue online interviews and events to get people excited about new brands and Alec Bradley as a company. We feel like we’ve been successful doing them throughout 2020, and are confident that we can continue to positively affect cigar fans through virtual formats in 2021.

The twenty-fifth anniversary. Sometimes you have to look back to look forward. Who would be the people, specifically, who influenced you? I think it starts with my parents who supported me getting into a business I had never been in before. Always asking me, “What do you need?” and, “Can I be there to help you?” Being very proud of the company. Or when we got to a certain sales model that I shared with them and seeing their excitement. My wife, and both Alec and Bradley. They had to sacrifice for this business because there were many times I was traveling and I couldn’t be home for certain things. I did try to schedule around the kids’ football games or baseball. But they definitely have sacrificed for me to build this business. Once I got in the business, there were people instrumental along the way. Meeting Ralph Montero and him coming into the company was instrumental to our success. The people who have been with me over the years were huge, important. Because I’m one person, and as we built this team, they were able to do so many things better than I could do by myself. This is an amazing team effort that we have here. Another would be the consumers. Consumers have been really loyal to our brand, and they’ve been the first ones to pat us on the back. You create relationships, and they’re like, “I got you.” Those people that keep you going. To be honest with you, Randy, think about what you guys do at Cigar & Spirits Magazine. We can’t go on national TV and do these things. We have limited places we can tell our story. Our story is told through the magazines that are dedicated to the passion of what we do. There’s not enough ways to get our story out, but it’s really based on a passion of people writing about what we do, and it’s getting the underneath of the manufacturer and the brand owners. That’s what gets people excited, the learning. Thank you so much for saying that. It’s funny because when our magazine develops a relationship with brand people with a great backstory, it’s like, “Let us help you tell your story.” We all have a story. Actually, we all have a book in us. As you hit twenty-five and you go into the next twenty-five and hopefully beyond, what message or pledge would you offer your consumers? This is just the beginning. I’m at a point now in my life where I’ve become a bit of a steward for the brand. I have built the foundation with a lot of help from Alec and Bradley and the people of the organization today. Where do they want to take it for the next twenty-five years? I think the best is yet to come.

SCAN HERE TO WIN ACCESSORIES MADE BY ALEC BRADLEY CIGARS

Randy Mastronicola is the Editor-in-Chief of Cigar & Spirits Magazine.

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Photos courtesy of Alec Bradley Cigars.

Randy Mastronicola: Please share a couple of life and business lessons your father has given you. And how you and your brother have been able to utilize them. Alec Rubin: Our father has taught us many life lessons. One that sticks out, though, is to never compromise on your vision. When it comes to the cigar business, be it blending or packaging, if there is something you want to achieve, then you should push until its perfect.

“CONSUMERS HAVE BEEN REALLY LOYAL TO OUR BRAND, AND THEY’VE BEEN THE FIRST ONES TO PAT US ON THE BACK. YOU CREATE RELATIONSHIPS, AND THEY’RE LIKE, “I GOT YOU.” THOSE PEOPLE THAT KEEP YOU GOING.”


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>> A gorgeous snowy view of the Glenfiddich Distillery in Strathspey, Scotland.

ICONIC BRAND SPOTLIGHT

SWEET DRAMS ARE MADE OF THIS THE CRAFT AND ARTISTRY OF GLENFIDDICH by Audrey Pavia

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Photos courtesy of Glenfiddich.

Photos courtesy of Glenfiddich.

>> The pristine Glenfiddich pots.

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HEN WILLIAM GRANT and his nine children built their first distillery in Strathspey, Scotland, in 1886, they could not have imagined that 135 years later, they would have the world’s bestselling single-malt whisky. Yet that is the reality for William Grant & Sons, the company that’s been making the iconic Glenfiddich for the past three centuries. Still owned by the Grant family, the company produces 12 Scotches, ranging in age from 12 to 64 years. Managed by the fifth generation of the Grant family, Glenfiddich has won scores of awards over the years, and made appearances in both film and television. We chatted with David Allardice, a native Scotsman and full-time Scotch whisky ambassador for Glenfiddich, to find out how the makers of this legendary whisky feels about being one of the most wanted Scotch on the planet.

How rewarding is it that Glenfiddich is recognized as an iconic brand? To be considered iconic is incredibly rewarding of course, but even more so, it’s humbling. Glenfiddich stands where it does today because of the work of six generations, 130 years of family ownership, and so many brilliant employees who make up the Glenfiddich extended family. While it’s easy for a brand to get lost in its own awards and accolades, the real honor for Glenfiddich today is to be able to carry on the tradition of every person in this brand’s history that brought us to this point. What are the standards/processes that inform the growth of the brand today? As the most-awarded single malt Scotch whisky, we’ve never stood still. To this day, we’re still pursuing our founder’s goal to be the “best dram in the valley.” Since 1887, the brand has shown that we are not afraid to take risks and try something new in order to continue to evolve and grow stronger. This theory has become central to allowing the brand to stand out against strong competitors over the years. To maintain consistent innovation, Brian Kinsman the Glenfiddich Malt Master since 2009, continues to learn from past malt masters to preserve the brand’s distinct style, while simultaneously using his background in science to find incredible new ways to drive innovation and brand growth.

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Photos courtesy of Glenfiddich.

>> The breathtaking views of Strathspey, Scotland enhance the distillery’s wow factor.

“FOR 133 YEARS, WE’VE HONORED OUR HERITAGE, INCLUDING THE TRIED-AND-TRUE PROCESSES OF WHISKY-MAKING THAT BUILT THE BRAND INTO WHAT IT IS TODAY.” What should we be on the lookout for in 2021 and beyond? We can’t share too many details right now, but we do have some phenomenal new expressions in the pipeline that will excite Scotch whisky fans of all kinds. Alongside these new expressions, you’ll see unique methods of outreach to our fan community and beyond, which is designed for the increasingly more diverse tastes of modern whisky drinkers. Please share with our readership about the history and prestige of the distillery and why it’s an important part of the brand. Glenfiddich is one of only a handful of distilleries still run by the same family that built it back in 1887. For 133 years, we’ve >> Master Blender David Allardice honored our heritage, including the tried-and-true processes listens to the whisky for inspiration. of whisky-making that built the brand into what it is today. But beyond tradition, it’s important to note that for 133 years, the brand has been driven by a spirit of innovation. That spirit has been the key to Glenfiddich’s longevity, and in more recent years, it’s been absolutely pivotal for us to continue driving the category forward. Who would you say is the typical Glenfiddich drinker these days? Or is there a “typical” customer? Today’s whisky drinkers are more diverse than ever, so we couldn’t fairly single out one archetype of “The Glenfiddich drinker.” As a brand committed to driving the growth of the category, we think this is a great thing. It shows that “the finest dram in the valley” has successfully traveled farther beyond the valley than could have been imagined 133 years ago when we were founded. Today, Glenfiddich drinkers—and whisky drinkers in general—have discriminating tastes and put value in products that are authentic and well crafted. They are curious by nature, and like to explore different flavors, and understand the heritage behind the products they enjoy. That’s why the balance of tradition and innovation has remained so critical to our continued success and growth.

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>> An inviting tableau featuring the Glenfiddich Grand Cru.


RUGGED COUNTRY

EL ARTISTA CIGARS www.el artista cigars.com


>> The Glenfiddich 15 and an Alec Bradley Prensado is a highly recommended pairing.

Photos courtesy of Glenfiddich.

>> Malt Master Brian Kinsman watching over whisky and barrels.

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“SINCE 1887, THE BRAND HAS FOLLOWED A FOUNDING ‘FAMILY PHILOSOPHY’ WITH THE GOAL OF CONTINUING TO PUSH BOUNDARIES WHILE PRODUCING THE HIGHEST QUALITY WHISKY POSSIBLE.” What would you say are the biggest sellers? Glenfiddich has one of the most diverse ranges of whiskies in the category, starting at our Original 12 Year Old expression and going all the way to our luxurious and incredibly rare 50 Year Old expression. We also have excited limited edition releases like 21 Year Old Winter Storm that have become instant collectables. However, our Original 12 Year Old remains the bestselling single malt Scotch whisky in the world, and is the standard for the fruit forward Speyside style that Scotch whisky drinkers around the world love. While the company prides itself on tradition and authenticity, has there been any feedback from customers that has caused you to consider new techniques or changes—pushing things forward while maintaining a core value? Since 1887, the brand has followed a founding “family philosophy” with the goal of continuing to push boundaries while producing the highest quality whisky possible. Perhaps the strongest evidence of how we have pushed the industry forward comes from the family’s drive and determination in creating the Single Malt Scotch Whisky category, back in 1963. In following this philosophy, we don’t think in the standard business cycles, but rather in generations, which allows Glenfiddich to maintain its legacy of category changing innovations, while preserving the tradition that sustained the brand for 133 years. Generally speaking, how does a new Glenfiddich drinker discover your whiskey? Do you have any data that speaks to this? The biggest volume of our new drinkers comes from the younger generation of consumers that are beginning to trade up from other whiskey categories and are now seeking an older, more complex spirit. There are also many touch points on and off trade in 2021 where consumers will be able to easily engage with our brand and whisky.

Which expression of Glenfiddich do you recommend pairing with a cigar? I’m very pleased to share with you my ultimate go-to Scotch and cigar pairing. My favorite expression of Glenfiddich, the Solera 15 Year, a perfectly balanced, rich and flavorful whisky that rewards you with the taste of orchard fruit, honey and a subtle yet lingering ginger spice. A dram complimented perfectly by one of my all time favorite cigars, Alec Bradley’s famous Prensado. The Prensado is constructed with great attention to detail. The cigar is layered with subtle flavor variations, from the initial taste of cocoa followed by a hint of nuttiness, finishing with vanilla bean and espresso. This pairing is full of complex flavors but so well balanced, an experience so enjoyable, you’ll want to revisit time and time again. With that said, this is just one of the many incredible Scotch and cigar pairings in a world of seemingly endless choices. I encourage you to enjoy your own experimentation to find the right pairing for you.

>> A rare bottle of the Glenfiddich Janet Sheed was sold for over $94,000 to a collector several years ago.

Audrey Pavia has authored twenty-three non-fiction books. She is an award-winning writer and editor living in Southern California. Audrey is a frequent contributor to Cigar & Spirits Magazine.

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CIGARS

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Live Epic, Smoke Epic.

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FEATURED SPRING COCKTAILS

APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS… AND CLASSIC COCKTAIL SOURS by Breahna Wheeler

PALOMA SOUR Serves 2

Ingredients: • 4 oz. tequila blanco • 4 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice • 1 oz. maple syrup or simple syrup • 2 oz. soda water • Flaky sea salt and grapefruit wedge for garnish Directions: • Sprinkle flaky sea salt on a small plate. Slightly dampen rim of glasses with a grapefruit wedge and dip into salt. • Combine the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice and syrup into the glass and stir. • Fill the glass with ice and top with soda water. • Garnish with grapefruit.

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SCAN HERE FOR MORE FEATURED COCKTAIL RECIPES


Top left: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com, Top right: Elena Gordeichik/Shutterstock.com, Bottom left: Micaela Fiorellini/Shutterstock.com, Bottom right: Elena Veselova/Shutterstock.com

CLASSIC WHISKEY SOUR

PISCO SOUR

Ingredients: • 1 fluid oz. simple syrup • 2 fluid oz. fresh lemon juice • 5 fluid oz. whiskey • Ice cubes • Cherries and lemon wedges for garnish

Ingredients: • 4 oz. pisco • 2 oz. fresh lime juice • 1 oz. simple syrup • 2 egg whites • Ice cubes • Angostura bitters for garnish.

Serves 2

Directions: • Combine the simple syrup, lemon juice and whiskey in a shaker. • Fill with ice. • Cover and shake for about 30 seconds until the shaker is frosty. • Strain into martini glasses or tumblers with of ice. • Garnish with cherries (optional).

Serves 2

Directions: • Add pisco, lime juice, simple syrup and egg whites into a shaker, and dry-shake (without ice) vigorously. • Fill ice and shake again for about 30 seconds until the shaker is frosty. • Strain into chilled Nick & Nora glasses or rocks glasses over ice. • Garnish with a lime or 3 drops of Angostura bitters (per cocktail) using a straw or toothpick.

CLASSIC SIDECAR

AUTHENTIC SPICY MARGARITA

Ingredients: • 4 oz. brandy • 2 oz. orange liqueur • 2 oz. fresh lemon juice • 2 teaspoons white sugar • Ice cubes • Lemon or orange twist for garnish

Ingredients: • 4 oz. tequila blanco • 1 oz. orange liqueur • 2 oz. natural lime juice freshly squeezed • 1 oz. agave syrup • 4 slices of fresh jalapeño pepper • Margarita salt or Tajin for garnish

Directions: • Sprinkle the sugar on a small plate. Slightly dampen rim of glasses with a lemon wedge and dip into sugar. • Combine brandy, orange liqueur and lemon juice into a shaker. • Fill with ice. • Cover and shake for about 30 seconds until the shaker is frosty. • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. • Garnish with lemon or orange twist.

Directions: • Sprinkle salt or Tajin on a small plate. Slightly dampen rim of glasses with a lime wedge and dip into preferred seasoning. • Add 2 jalapeño slices to shaker and gently muddle. • Add the blanco tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and agave syrup plus ice and shake until well-chilled. • Pour into dressed margarita glasses and garnish with a lime wedge and left over jalapeño slices.

Serves 2

Serves 2

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