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 ( 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 ( 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 - Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot & Archetype Strange Passage


We love funky product names, especially when there are cool stories behind them. But all of that means nothing if the funky-named product isn’t any good.

Lagunitas has been brewing exceptional beer with exceptionally strange names in Northern California since 1993. It all comes from the mind of founder and owner Tony Magee, who came up with not only the odd names (like A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, Lagunitas Sucks, 12th of Never Ale, and Wilco Tango Foxtrot) and their corresponding bottle artwork, but more importantly all of the recipes. The brewery has experienced tremendous growth and its beer is now available in 35 states. The Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot, one of the brewery’s most popular seasonal releases, was originally introduced back in 2009 and has been the source of some Internet “controversy” regarding the name. The band Wilco and their followers apparently claim the beer was named after them and their controversial 2001 album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The brewery denies those claims.

Ventura Cigar Company, also based in California, has had its fair share of peculiar brand names for cigars. You have the Psyko, Project 805, Pura Sangre, Slaughterhouse, and one of their new brands, Archetype. Now, Archetype itself is not super strange, but the sub-brand names, which were inspired by Joseph Campbell’s famous book, Hero of a Thousand Faces, will certainly make you stop and think. The book, which is a study of the archetypal hero in world mythology, has seeped into popular culture by influencing the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Bob Dylan, and George Lucas (among others). You can now add the folks over at Ventura Cigar Company to that group! The Archetype brand features Dreamstate, Sage Advice, Strange Passage, Initiation, and Axis Mundi. The first three lines are made by Davidoff, Dreamstate and Sage Advice are made in Davidoff’s DR facilities, and Strange Passage is produced in their Honduras factory. Initiation and Axis Mundi are manufactured by Drew Estate in Nicaragua.

The pairing

The Archetype Strange Passage is a beautifully constructed, soft-pressed cigar with a velvety smooth wrapper. The cigar starts smooth and elegant with plenty of pepper, oak, coffee, and a touch of earth. The beer’s heavy and rich malty sweetness play perfectly with the cigar’s oaky pepper characteristic. Afterward, the malt from the beer and the intensified coffee notes in the cigar take turns being dominant.