Its Spring! Which means more beer, and cigars are back!

Pairing the Innis & Gunn with La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel

Toronto's first day of SpringYesterday in Toronto it was 15 degrees Celsius outside, and today it is supposed to be 17! Honestly, I’m not willing to wait any longer; I am officially considering today to be the official beginning of spring and the end of winter! Finally! I don’t really like the winter, I’m not very good at winter sports, all the nice cars hibernate for the season, and it makes enjoying a cigar very difficult. And what’dya know, I just decided how to celebrate the coming of spring!… A great beer paired with a superb cigar!

Among the most soothing and enjoyable sensations for me is enjoying a smooth, rich and elegant cigar with a smooth spirit, or a real beer that can properly compliment the cigar andalso quench my palate flawlessly.  Being the first day of spring, I thought that doing exactly that would be a great idea. Into my Humidor first, I pulled out a La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel, one of my favorite and also most unique cigars.

And the beer for the job? Well, it would have to be perfect to start the spring off with, but also match the cigar – not the easiest task. The Chisel is very rich and filled with woody and spicy deep tobacco flavors, so the proper beer for the job would have to be able to stand up to the Chisel’s strength, but also refresh and sooth me at the same time. As difficult as it sounded, the choice was obvious: the Innis & Gunn Original Oak Aged Beer.

I’ve recently posted my thoughts on the Innis & Gunn Original, so you can check that out here. The interesting matter today is what is this cigar like and how does this Innis pair with it?

La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel

La Flor Dominicana, headed by Litto Gomez, has become a staple cigar brand in my Humidor. Each of their cigars offers rich and alluring flavors and aromas, as well they produce cigars of exceptional quality and unique stature. Gomez had a difficult time breaking into the cigar industry, but in 1993 he was able to open La Flor Dominicana, and since then the brand has become a leader amongst Dominican Cigars.

La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel HeadThe Double Ligero Chisel is among my favorite of all cigars due to its rich complex flavor, full bodied smoke, smooth and clean draw, and also because of its unique shape. The head of the cigar is not simply rounded, pointed, or box pressed, but it is in the shape of a chisel; sloping and flat like a wedge. The story goes that one day Gomez was driving his truck to his Tobacco farm chewing on a cigar as he normally would. Taking a look at the cigar he realized that he had ruined the head by crushing it, but has also created a much more comfortable smoke; a cigar with a flat head that would rest effortlessly in your mouth. Thus the Chisel was born, and it remains a work of art in the cigar world.  It was mentioned by Cigar Aficionado as the third best cigar in 2008, and has a very high rating of 93.

The filler and Binder are from the Dominican Republic, and the wrapper from Ecuador. It is six inches long with a ring gauge of 54. In the U.S. they retail between $7 and $12, and I have yet to see them in Canada unfortunately.

If you like full bodies and robust cigars, than this cigar was built for you, if not, I’d stay away from it. Personally, this is precisely what I look for in a cigar. The tobacco used in the Chisel is aged for four years, and each box has a vintage date on it. The smoke is very rich in leather, black pepper, wood, and light earth. After all the pepper and leather flows over your tongue, a burnt caramel sweetness makes itself known just slightly followed by a touch of nuttiness, almost espresso.  It has just enough sweetness to it to balance the deep flavors.

Pairing the Chisel with the Innis

The draw was smooth but powerful, and it just felt excellent to smoke due to the signature chisel head. There is a lot going on in this cigar, and normally I probably would have picked a richer beer to match it, or better yet, a strong and spicy bourbon like the Woodford Reserve. However I wanted a beer that would also quench my palate, not just sooth it; it is spring after all, I wanted to be refreshed!

After the Chisel was lit and roarin’ away and my mouth was saturated with the rich deep flavors and aromas of the cigar, I poured a pint of the Innis & Gunn, examined it for a moment in the light, and went in for the plunge. It was so close to perfect: the butterscotch, caramel and vanilla in the beer met the slight sweetness of the cigar perfectly; the creamy smooth mouthfeel complimented the cigars power well; and the carbonation, light hops, and clean finish refreshed me beautifully.

The only drawback on this pairing is that the Innis really wasn’t strong enough to hold up to the Chisel. It was a very nice pairing, but not quite perfect. Considering the day and purpose, this was an excellent paring. However for a pure beer and cigar union, I feel like an imperial IPA would be the better match for the Chisel.

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