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.

Perfect Pairing - The Glenlivet Nàdurra/My Father Connecticut

Photography by Andy Astencio

Photography by Andy Astencio

Not only is The Glenlivet the best selling single malt cotch in the U.S., but other blended whiskies — such as Chivas Regal and Royal Salute — use The Glenlivet’s output in their blends. So unless you haven’t tried Scotch at all, you’ve probably had whisky from the T he G lenlivet Distillery.
But you’ve not likely had anything like The Glenlivet Nàdurra. The word “nàdurra” is Gaelic for natural, as in all natural, as in nothing added and nothing removed after distilling. The topic of additives
and chill-filtration in whisky is a hot button topic in today’s all natural, traditional method, and organic-crazed consumer market. The Nàdurra is all about traditional methods proclaiming “Non Chill-Filtered” proudly and prominently on the
bottle. Chill-filtering is a modern process employed for cosmetic purposes, basically to prevent a whisky from becoming cloudy when ice or water is added. Sounds harmless enough, right? Well, it depends whom you ask. If you ask me, I want the whisky the way George and his son J. G. Smith wanted us to enjoy Glenlivet’s fines t distillate.


Unlike the overwhelming majority of whiskies, which are filtered and diluted before bottling (including single malt Scotches), Nàdurra is bottled at cask strength. This is something to be mindful of because it has a significantly higher alcohol content. 
There’s a perk, though: the distiller isn’t diluting it for you, so that you can do it yourself
however you please. So don’t feel like less of a man when you add water to this dram; that’s the idea. And, for God’s sake, don’t act a fool when it clouds up on you, that’s a good sign! Once you’ve gotten the whisky to where you want it, get the
My Father Connecticut fired up. The cigar’s earthy and peppery core gives you the backbone you need to stand up to the Nàdurra while the wrapper’s creamy vanilla characteristic marries beautifully with the apple, cinnamon, and oaky vanilla notes
coming from the whisky. Take your time to enjoy this pairing. I think you’re going to love it .


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



Perfect Pairings – Dos Equis Invierno Winter Bock & BG Meyer Standard Issue

photography by Andy Astencio

photography by Andy Astencio

No matter how open-minded you are about beer, there are certain things that don’t immediately jive. For example, a Mexican Winter Bock… Although parts of Northern Mexico get temperatures ranging cold enough to warrant such a style of beer, too many years of Corona commercials have conditioned us to think of Mexican beer as a beach beer. Even the folks at Corona have noticed that they’ve pigeonholed themselves and have created new campaigns that shed the self -inflicted s tigma.

But while Corona was spinning their wheels trying to get off the beach, Dos Equis and Negra Modelo have been carrying the winter torch for Mexican beer. And this year Dos Equis has taken it to the next level with the release of the Dos Equis Invierno Winter Bock. Sold as part of the Beers of Mexico Winter Fiesta Pack, this Limited Edition Dos Equis is a Vienna style lager that just might change the way you look at Mexican beer. The beer pours with a clear, copper color and a thick, cream-colored head. The aroma is heavy on toasted malts and a touch of hops, just a touch. Like any Vienna style lager worth its malt (rimshot), it is malty and slightly sweet with a light, clean finish. Again, this is not the beer you think of when someone says, ‘Let’s get a Mexican beer!’ But seriously, if you’re hanging out with people who just blurt out things like that, look around because you may be in a mental institution.

The Pairing

First off it needs to be stated that because this beer goes down super smooth and crisp, you will be hammered by the time you finish the cigar. While we tasted the pairings, it was not uncommon to go through six of these beers before we were halfway through the cigar. What works beautifully for the pairing is that the earthiness of the BG Meyer is almost nullified with every sip. The complexion of the cigar changes completely. The spice and wood are accented and a buttery caramel note appears out of nowhere. You could smoke and drink this pair all day. As mentioned earlier, prepare to get hammered.

Dos Equis Invierno Winter Bock
Brewed by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, S.A. de C.V. 
Style: Vienna Lagar
(12 fl. oz ABV: 5%)

BG Meyer By Camacho Standard Issue
Figurado (Belicoso)
(6.1" x 54)
MRSP $190 (Box of 20)