This past May 24 weekend may have showed us the best weather we have ever seen for the epic long weekend. I spend it in Grand Bend Ontario at a cottage on the beach with some of my best friends. Each year we indulge in great food, amazing beer, succulent spirits, full flavored cigars, and a riot of fun in the sun. How can you possibly go wrong.
By the holiday Monday we had feasted and barbecued, shared some rare and special brews, and spent far to much time in the heat. It really was time to sit under an umbrella, open up a rare and exceptional whisky, and enjoy some fine crafted cigars. The menu would be the Johnnie Walker Swing, Rocky Patel’s 1999 Vintage Connecticut, CAO’s MX2, and the Casa Magna Colorado Belicoso.
The Johnnie Walker Swing
Johnnie Walker has been a longstanding and predominant whisky blender. The core brands encompass of range of artisan whiskies producing a flavor for just about every palate. But there is more to Johnnie than just the Red, Black, Green, Gold and Blue. There is also the Swing .
When Johnnie’s son Alexander Walker was building the brand in rural Scotland he had a difficult time arranging for his whisky to be sold over seas in new markets. He needed both a sales force and a distribution team. He had the money for neither. So, being the innovative mind he was, he approached the Captains of cargo ships and offered them a trade; he would supply their whisky for the voyage, if they would then in turn sell it to the markets they were visiting. Thus the Johnnie Walker Swing is create in honor of this camaraderie. The bottle literally will rock, or swing back and forth if nudged, as if it were on a boat voyaging across the sea.
The swing, like all of Johnnie Walker’s whiskies has no age labeled on it, and is a blend of up to 35 different whiskies. The majority of the single malts are from Speyside, with compliments from the northern Highlands and Islay. Pouring the Swing was smooth and oily building a rich caramel brown whisky deep in golden orange, amber yellow, copper, chrome and bright sun. The nose was properly sweet showing less smoke than I am used to in Johnnie, but much spice and hints of peat. The nose shone through with sweet vanilla, caramel, sherry wood, alcoholic cherries, almonds and nougat. A soft warming of brown sugar was also easily notable.
On the palate, it is silky smooth bringing sweet warm malts and candy sugar. Spice built gently through the sides, very typical of Johnnie, finishing in a very smooth and delicate manner. The flavor is thick and mellow sweet with huge rushes of vanilla and soft oak, caramel, toffee, rum raisins, and touches of smoke. Spice and more wood plays off the tongue and greets your cheeks showing much depth and fullness. Overall it was very relaxing and perfectly rich. It is 40% abv, was very easy and insatiable to drink. It will go down as one of my favorite whiskies to pair with cigars – no question.
Rocky Patel 1999 Vintage Connecticut Torpedo
The mildest of our three cigars is from my absolute favorite cigar brand, Rocky Patel. Against all odds Rocky bust onto the cigar scene and has been crafting some of the worlds finest and most alluring cigars. One of their most beautiful, the 1999 vintage, is the oldest true Connecticut shade wrapper on the market. It is a full flavored but mild bodied cigar. It is perfect for almost any occasion, as well for those who are just starting to get into cigars or are not ready for a darker, fuller bodied powerhouse.
The draw is easy and clean with the 1999 Vintage bringing soft delicate cedary smoke with light hints of earth and spice. It is smooth and very subtle showing light notes of hay field, and generous complexity. Its full character is balanced with buttery smooth tobacco and medium rich alluring smoke. The smoke is light in your mouth with a breeze of smoke and a very fine draw. I love the torpedo shape of this cigar, it feels nice in your mouth, and looks great when you are holding onto it. Overall it is a sweet and elegant smoke. It was nice with the Swing, its sweetness paired off it very well, but was to light overall for the powerful flavors of the whisky.
CAO MX2 Toro
CAO has been one of the wolds premier cigar producers for many years, they have a wide range of products which are all very modernly branded and have just recently in the last year come down in price making these amazing cigars more accessible to the average smoker. The MX2 is at the medium high end of CAO cigars in terms of body and flavor, but it is not the heaviest – despite is deep black appearance. It is created with tobacco from six countries wrapped in a deeply fermented Maduro wrapper. The filler tobacco from Central America gives this cigar sweet and spicy flavors that I was expecting to match harmoniously with the Swing.
The draw from the MX2 is much more seamless than I was expecting. It is a dense and extremely dark cigar to behold, but the smoke flows almost effortlessly through rich complex layers of aged tobacco. The smoke fills your palate with warm wood, brown sugar, sweet leather, and a breezy light fresh air touch. About in inch down on this cigar though and it really hits its stride pumping out rich dark tobacco, pepper, clove, cinnamon, and charred wood. It still shows much sweetness in the smoke, and it does dance around your palate elegantly with it. The body is pretty full, but easy in the same sense – really it is a medium bodied, but full flavored cigar with complexity, sweet and spicy tobacco, but still light elegance. It matched the swing nicely with sweet and spicy compliments, and was a real treat of a pairing.
Casa Magna Colorado Belicoso
In 2008 the Casa Magna Colorado Robusto won Cigar Aficionado’s coveted Cigar of the Year award for its full flavored smoke, superb balance, and extremely enjoyable presence. Beyond that, its is only a $7 cigar. I have had the Robusto many times, and was always impressed. So I wanted to branch out and see how a larger size and shape would affect the cigar.
The Casa Magna is a large deep and dark cigar composed of all Nicaraguan tobaccos. with a 54 ring gauge it is the biggest cigar of the afternoon. The wrapper is oily dark with black, red, and deep browns shimmering in the sun. A nice open straight cut created a nice toothy draw that required a touch of effort, but the smoke poured out of it with ease. Thick and luscious sweet and spicy smoke engulfed my palate with savory woods, earthy sweet honey and molasses, and touches of leather and spice. Big peppery aromas and sweet toffee was always in the air, and made its way into the back of my mouth as I let the smoke relax in my palate. It has a very earthy and creamy feeling to it showing much complexity and overall generous flavor. It was the best pairing with the Swing. Its savory oak, sweet tobacco, rich spices and rounded complexity made it a pure joy to smoke.