AJ Fernandez

Perfect Pairings - Dictador 12 Year Rum & Hoyo La Amistad by AJ Fernandez


Every year, the entire cigar industry gathers for the IPCPR Trade Show and Convention. As a magazine, we’ve been present at the show for the last 10 years, handing out magazines as well as reviewing all of the new products being released. When I say “new products,” that usually means cigars upon cigars upon cigars — but this year the show had a little twist. A most welcome twist!

As we were setting up our booth the day before the show opened, we noticed the booth for a company called Dictador (dictador.com) setting up nearby. The branding for the company was unlike that of most cigar companies; it looked like a giant Hugo Boss or Calvin Klein advertisement. Well produced black and white images with high-fashion styling, male and female models smoking cigars and drinking spirits. Not sure what to make of this company, we paid them a visit toward the end of the first day of the show.

We had just run through the new product presentation at General Cigar, where we had a chance to smoke the new Hoyo La Amistad by AJ Fernandez (hoyocigars.com) and instantly fell in love with the smoke. It had the characteristic AJ Fernandez pepper and earth, a touch of sweetness, and a very smooth and creamy texture. We were halfway through the cigar when we arrived at the Dictador booth. Instead of talking about their line of cigars, the first thing they did was pour a taste of their Dictador 12-year-old rum. It was a spectacular and serendipitous pairing! We eventually moved on from the rum and were able to sample their line of cigars as well, but the seeds for this pairing had already been planted.

The pairing

You’ve heard this one before, but your best chance for success in a pairing is to match the levels of intensity first, then deal with the complementary flavors second. That’s the beauty of this pairing, the Hoyo’s pepper zing is met toe to toe by the rum’s caramel and honey sweetness. The best way to pair these two is to fire up the cigar first. The intensity of the pepper, earth, and cedar in the cigar builds as it goes, starting smooth and medium-bodied, then quickly ramps up after the first half inch. As the pepper noticeably intensifies and lingers on in the finish, that’s when the rum can really make its mark. The caramel, honey, and alcohol in the rum cut through the cigar’s core of pepper and earth beautifully.

Perfect Pairings – Buchanan’s Master & San Lotano – The Bull

photography by Andy Astencio

photography by Andy Astencio

Mexico’s long-standing obsession with Buchanan’s Blended Scotch Whisky is as fascinating as it is inexplicable. Let’s be clear, Mexicans are certifiably crazy about the stuff. Aside from the everyman who drinks Buchanan’s because, well, because everybody in Mexico drinks Buchanan’s. Popular corridos bands invite participants onto the stage during shows and pour straight Buchanan’s (or as they pronounce it, Bukanans) down the guests’ throats. To help you picture this, imagine if you were at a Kings of Leon concert with 80,000 of your closest friends and Caleb Followill started inviting people on stage and pouring straight whisky down their gullets while sing ing Supersoaker.

We did our own informal survey of Buchanan’s loving Mexican males living in the U.S., which is basically every male between the ag es of 21 and death. W e just wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery. In the process of surveying, we were gifted several bottles of Buchanan’s 12, gifted a set of Buchanan’s branded rocks glasses, gifted other bottles of Scotch that no self-respecting Mexican will ever consume, and given no concrete reason for their devotion. The question we posed was a simple one: “Why do Mexicans love Buchanan’s?” Here were some of the answers: 

“it’s jus t a damn good Scotch bro”

“I wouldn’t trade Buchanan’s 18 for any single malt Scotch on the planet”

“I can drink as much as I want and I won’t have a hangover tomorrow”

“it leaves me with no alcohol breath”

In the end we gave up trying to figure it out. Instead we bought a couple of bottles of Buchanan’s Master, took‘em back to the office, and took them down corrido-style!


A good Scotch is one of those spirits that easily pairs with almost any cigar so the issue for this pairing was finding a cigar that enhanced the whiskey. San Lotano

– The Bull was just that. The beautiful thing about this pairing is that the cigar has a rich oakiness that gets along famously with the Scotch’s barrel-aged flavor. But in addition it has loads of pepper, earth, nuts, and aged tobacco sweetness that take this pairing to the next level.

Unlike other pairings where we suggest you drink one before the other or wait for something to warm up, you can pretty much go to town with this one.

Buchanan's Master – Blended Scotch Whiskey
Distilled by Buchanan Distillery
(750 ml. ABV 40%)
Aged 15 Years
MSRP: approx. $40

paired with
San Lotano – The Bull
by A.J. Fernandez
Toro (6" x 54)

Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Origin: Nicaragua