If you’re a fan of bourbon, whiskey, rye, and The Manual, chances are you’re already familiar with famed whiskey Pappy Van Winkle from Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery and its family of spirits. Recently, Van Winkle has added a new addition to the brand: the Pappy Van Winkle Barrel-Fermented Cigar. Much like how fish and chips are a perfect combination, so too are good cigars and bourbon (in this case, a wheated bourbon which replaced rye with wheat in its mash bill). Partnering with the Drew Estate in Nicaragua, this particular cigar is 100-percent hand-made and “allows both bourbon fans and cigar connoisseurs to experience a flavor combination that is unique and that will remain consistent throughout each small batch.”
Before ideas of dipping cigars in bourbon begin running through your imagination, know that a barrel-fermented cigar doesn’t actually have any Pappy or booze in it at all. Here’s how the process works:
- First, Drew Estate takes Kentucky-grown tobacco and sends it south to Louisiana.
- There, the tobacco undergoes the barrel-fermentation process.
- Pappy Van Winkle emphasizes that “tobacco produced for premium cigars generally ferments in pilóns, a thick pile of cured tobacco stacked on boards. Instead, our alternative barrel-fermenting process uses car jacks to compress up to 500 pounds of tobacco into a 53-gallon barrel.”
- The high pressure then ferments the tobacco, giving off a yeasty smell very reminiscent of that of a distillery.
- From there, the tobacco is shipped to the Drew Estate factory in Nicaragua where it is combined with a Mexican San Andreas base wrapper. Both are wrapped around excellent Nicaraguan binder and filler tobacco.
- It’s then boxed up and shipped, hopefully, to you, the pleased consumer.
You can obviously opt to smoke one of these sans spirit. However, Pappy Van Winkle notes “[the cigar is] perfect for pairing with any bourbon or whiskey, Drew Estate’s favorite match is with the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye from our family’s Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. The spice notes from the rye bring out the pepper and smoke notes in the cigar.”
For other great cigars, check out Cigar Aficionado’s top cigars of 2018 – you won’t be disappointed.