When you venture into the realm of premium cigars, it isn’t long until you discover the intoxicating world of cigar and alcohol pairings. Now, we can get into the minutia of which premium spirit is best intended to be paired with which hand-rolled cigar, or we can skip to the spirit produced by the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States: Buffalo Trace.
This is a straight bourbon whiskey born in the hollers of Kentucky and known by whiskey lovers throughout the world. Now, in celebration of the launch of two new superstores in Florida, retail chain Cigars International has collaborated with Buffalo Trace Distillery to bring a cigar specifically blended to be paired with this classic American spirit. As the official press release states:
Cigars International is proud to offer “Buffalo Trace,” a new cigar created in collaboration with the Kentucky-based whiskey maker. Handcrafted in the Dominican Republic, Buffalo Trace offers a unique and memorable smoking experience alone, yet was blended to pair with the top-rated Kentucky Straight bourbon of the same name.
Buffalo Trace Toro Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Brazilian Arapiraca
- Filler: Dominican Republic | Nicaragua
- Factory: General Cigar Dominicana (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 52 (Toro)
- Price: $8.00 (MSRP)
From the moment you lay eyes on this cigar, there is no doubt who it was made for or what it was intended to be enjoyed with. The classic jagged Buffalo Trace logo emblazoned with the bison immediately invokes mental images of the bourbon bottle; this is accompanied with a secondary namesake sub-band and green cloth foot ribbon. I like where they are going with it, albeit a little too “on the nose” for my taste.
Looking past the bands and onto the wrapper, you can say they stayed on theme with the bourbon-hued leaf. A light and oily sheen hides the slight tooth on its surface. The Sumatra leaf itself is rather uneven, and has noticeable veins and some blotchiness. Despite this, the seams are tight, keeping the cigar’s appearance very clean. The feel of the cigar is like papier-mâché in rigidity—light in weight, with an extremely firm presence between my fingers. It’s a solid presentation, being rustic yet classy.
The Sumatra wrapper gives subtle, musty alfalfa notes, along with what I can only describe as a sweet chewing tobacco aroma. After giving the head of the cigar a haircut with my guillotine, I find pre-light draw notes of the same musty alfalfa, now accompanied with black pepper that lingers on my palate.
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After lighting, I am introduced to the toro by notes of woody medium-roast coffee, rich tobacco, and a light leather tang. It’s not shy about putting these flavors right upfront, making you acknowledge them. Shortly after first light, a subtle cayenne pepper starts to enter the mix and stays in the background for the time being.
The draw is very good (8/10); a slight resistance allows for easy access to the smoke’s flavors, providing a solid medium-bodied profile and a medium-to-long finish. Getting further into the cigar, I find that it is not wandering too far from the core flavors of medium-roast coffee and tangy leather (though heavy black pepper seems to be joining the conversation). I am teased with background notes of cinnamon and semi-sweet chocolate, but the pepper almost immediately stomps them out.
As I progress, the cigar is taking on a harsh profile. The black pepper and leather are now ever present on each puff, and background notes are overpowered. The woodiness of the coffee flavor stays present and is building into an oaky, barrel-aged version of its former self. Pepper zings my nostrils upon each retrohale, covering all but the tangy leather note.
Coming to the end of the cigar, the black pepper eases up on the gas pedal and I find the roasted coffee has now become purely a dry oak wood note. The consistent tangy leather profile has faded, but still finds its way through on the retrohale. The cigar is still in the harsh realm, as the last puff gives a parting gift of raw cinnamon and dark chocolate.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I may, but only to pair it with something sweeter than Buffalo Trace bourbon. To follow true to their press release, I smoked this cigar on its own, as well as paired with the bourbon itself. I couldn’t help but feel that the mark was missed on the pairing, and that the cigar would be better suited for a sweeter bourbon—possibly an añejo tequila or dark rum. Buffalo Trace’s core of caramel and vanilla don’t do enough to tame the pepper that is present from start to finish on this cigar; and the smoke itself really doesn’t give you anything extra, outside of its simplistic profile, to enhance the pairing.
Even though the Buffalo Trace cigar can be viewed as consistent, I found it to be somewhat dull and heavy handed with the pepper. In other words, just because it has the band of the bourbon doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best pairing for it.
- Flavor: Medium-Plus
- Strength: Medium-Plus
- Body: Medium
- Medium-roast coffee
- Black pepper
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Añejo tequila | Rum | Bourbon | Chai tea
- Purchase Recommendation: Buy a couple and give ’em a shot
- Flavors are easily recognized
- Body and strength are balanced
- Pepper covers up all but core flavors
- Little complexity to the blend
- A few touch-ups needed