The fine folks at Holt’s Cigar Company asked Mike Morales to help them pair their cigars with tequilas. In his latest blog at www.tequilasensei.com, he pairs with tequila the highly rated–95 points and the number 2 cigar in 2011 by Cigar Aficionado–La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor, blended by the famed Jose “Pepin” Garcia in Esteli, Nicaragua.
I admit, I have a soft spot for Señor Rio tequila.
Sure, it’s produced at the famed La Cofradía distillery (NOM 1137), where its flagship tequila, Casa Noble, grabs all the headlines these days. And the co-founders, Jonathan Gach and Debbie Medina have a great love for tequila and a great love story, too. And, yes, it comes in a helluva pretty bottle. But those aren’t my reasons for my affinity to the brand.
It’s their exclusive cigars that pair so well with Señor Rio tequila that bring a smile to my face.
In The Beginning…
I was first introduced to Señor Rio Cigars when CEO, Jonathan Gach, sent me a pair that were infused with Señor Rio blanco tequila. It was a novel idea at the time since tradition dictates that cigars be paired with wines and darker spirits. Naturally, these were meant to be enjoyed with Señor Rio blanco and its fragrant smoky bouquet and long finish.
The concept of pairing cigars with blanco tequilas compelled me to seek other blanco tequila and cigar combinations that ultimately lead to my recent article in Cigar Advisor.
Completely hooked, I couldn’t wait to spark up these newer versions of Señor Rio Cigars that Jonathan was kind enough to share.
Simply placing the Señor Rio bottles outside on the patio table dresses up any occasion and calls for your fanciest lighter, ashtray and crystal snifters. One whiff of the big, veiny Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and I couldn’t stray from tradition. A snifter of Señor Rio añejo was in order.
From the very start, this stick had all the signs of a handmade gem, lighting beautifully, drawing smoothly and burning evenly with a nice ash. The combination of the Honduran and Dominican filler, along with the Connecticut broadleaf binder made for a tequila lover’s delight.
The hints of leather, wood and nuts courtesy of the wrapper blended nicely with Señor Rio’s initial sweetness. The cigar’s light spiciness (cloves) enhanced the nose and married graciously with the aroma of the añejo. Moreover, the cigar’s easygoing softness didn’t interfere with Señor Rio’s medium-to-long finish imparted by its aging in used French white oak barrels for two years.
With the reposado, however, the pairing was more evenly matched. Aged only six months in used French white oak barrels, it does not have as long a finish as the añejo and this fusion was a duel of the senses. Each commanded my attention with every sip and draw. While at times the añejo seemed to step aside, the pairing with the reposado demanded to be noticed.
Once Señor Rio blanco was served, it was comparing night and day. Everything I had experienced throughout my enjoyment of the cigar was brought to bear with the blanco. It was a Wimbledon tennis match at Centre Court between two distinct athletic styles where your taste buds are the line judge and the crowd cheers with every volley.
The Añejo Way Of Life
You don’t have to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation (or of a tequila brand or online tequila media company, for that matter) to enjoy Señor Rio. The pure elegance of its bottle presentation and the tequila’s flavor profile alone can take you to your happy place, what I call “the añejo way of life.” Coupled with a Señor Rio Cigar, and your trip there will be that much quicker.
Sadly, these puros are not available for retail, yet, and are primarily used at special events and promotions. But, as Jonathan Gach puts it, “I have been a cigar smoker for 37 years and along with tequila, this is another passion of mine.”
On the positive side, Jonathan is contemplating some exciting future plans for Señor Rio that includes the addition of even more enticing tobacco blends to go along with his stellar tequila.
In the meantime, look for Jonathan and Debbie and the whole Señor Rio tequila crew at your nearest cigar bar and liquor store. It’ll be your shortest route to the “añejo way of life.”
The preceding podcast was recorded by Tequila Aficionado’s Founder, Alexander Perez, on March 21, 2006.
Sadly, many brands still persist in the Tequila Girl marketing that Alex mentioned over seven years ago. Some brands believe they’ve evolved and took it a step further with Tequila Boy marketing. I believe the true aficionado finds both of these offensive.
True aficionados don’t buy their tequila based upon how attractive an ad model is. It saddens me that so many brand marketers are stuck in the 1990s and won’t let go of this old advertising paradigm.
When all you put out there is co-ed bimbos doing shots, drinking from red Solo cups, or worse, from the bottle, you’re telling the world you don’t want your brand to be taken seriously. I love a shirtless hunk as much as the next straight woman but don’t try to dazzle me with him while you pour cherry soda and light beer into a blender to hide the taste of your mass produced tequila.
Show me a brand owner, male or female, who is smart, savvy, self assured and passionate about their tequila and I’ll stop what I’m doing to listen.
Alex said “Tequila companies need to rethink their marketing tactics” and they still do. The big boys are still marketing their swill with expensive distractions, but the little guys…we love the little guys here at Tequila Aficionado. The little guys are slowly changing the tequila marketing landscape.
People like Alex Viecco at Montalvo who is also involved in programs to create biofuels from tequila production waste products; people like Sergio Olmos of Nuestro Orgullo who take up the banner for a family business and knock themselves out trying to create the best product possible, not for the money, but for family pride and love of agave spirits; people like Laurence Spiewak and Lance Sokol of Suerte who put thought and meaning into a logo rather than attempting to dazzle us with tits and ass.
Yes, there are still small brands that believe they can grow by emulating the big brands with sponsored DJs, rock bands, edgy artists, and girls with great plastic surgeons but they rarely make it past that crucial five-year threshold. Superficiality attracts superficiality. When your marketing involves pretty girls in club attire giving shots to partygoers who will quickly forget what they drank, then you must realize that your tequila will last only about as long as their buzz does.
I think we’re on the cusp of something, though. It makes me very happy to see tequila brands that are finally letting the tequila do the talking.
As brands take themselves and their products more seriously, so too does the consumer. People like Mary Clemente of JuradoTequila are partnering with great chefs like Grant MacPherson. Pairing dinners are becoming popular ways to market good tequilas and I hope they’ll soon take the place of trays of shot glasses.
People are beginning to appreciate what great tequila and tequila culture can bring to their lifestyle through books by authors like Lucinda Hutson. Lucinda was well ahead of her time when she first began this journey, but perhaps tequila drinkers have grown up enough to become aficionados and truly appreciate the treasures she pens.
We welcome these changes at Tequila Aficionado. Alex’s vision was that Tequila Aficionado become a resource for all things agave including mezcal, sotol and other agave spirits. He wanted to interview people in the industry, people with a passion for fine tequilas, people breaking the old paradigms. He wanted to provide honest discussions about the merits of particular spirits over tastings, not just a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” He envisioned an online resource that would bring depth to tequila culture. He hoped to create in a magazine what a master distiller creates in a small batch, something that pleases the senses, enhances, informs, and provides the perfect finish that brings you back time and time again.
Something was missing in the mix all these years, but we believe we’ve finally found the right combination to bring that dream to fruition.
We have new Sipping off the Cuff episodes airing every week so you can taste along with us; bloopers and outtakes so you can laugh with us; Founder’s Features that are interviews and articles of significance to tequila history; Portraits in Tequila taking you beyond the label to see the story of the people behind the tequila; reviews of books on all aspects of tequila from dirt to drink and beyond; reviews on tequila related products like glassware and the foods, treats and cigars that can be paired with tequilas; articles on agave related industries; features on distilleries; and reviews of hotels and restaurants in Mexico’s tequila region.
We will always have a focus on the finished tequila product, but we’re deeper than that. We’re no longer focusing simply on the finished tequila; we’re expanding to encompass all of tequila culture because, after all, it isn’t about just a quick shot –
It’s about the whole experience.
We look forward to sharing that experience with you.