Booker’s Bourbon and Recluse Toro
The thought of pairing together Booker’s Bourbon and the Recluse toro by Iconic Leaf Cigar Company had my taste buds all a’twitter. Booker’s is a full flavored Bourbon, bottled straight from the barrel, uncut and unfiltered. The bottle that I used for this pairing was aged 7 years and 5 months and came in at a hefty 64.5% ABV (that’s 129 proof for the mathematically challenged). Not the highest ABV out there but certainly in the “heavy-weight” category. Recluse, the first release by Iconic Leaf Cigar Company is a box-pressed, entubado rolled, shiny, sexy, full-bodied smoke.
I can’t wait to get started! While I love both fine cigars and spirits, I don’t normally like to combine the two experiences. Call me crazy but the astringent nature of spirits makes it difficult for me to fully appreciate the cigar that I’m smoking and conversely, the heaviness of a cigar on the palate can mask the subtleties of a fine spirit. Yet I soldier on.
Before I get too carried away, here are some details on both the Recluse and Booker’s.
Origin : Dominican Republic
Size : 6 1/4 x 50(toro)
Wrapper : Brazilian Maduro
Binder : Cameroon
Filler : Dominican
Price : $7.80
Booker’s is part of The Original Small Batch Bourbon Collection from Jim Beam Brands Co. Booker’s has been available to the public for about 20 years now. I think of Booker’s as one of the pioneers of “small batch”bourbon. At around $40 to $50 a bottle, Booker’s is a lot of bang for the buck! I have seen the proof range between 121 and 130 and I’ve experienced a myriad of flavor notes which can change from bottle to bottle but a strong core of oak, vanilla, and smoke are always present.
This particular bottle of Booker’s was HUGE! Pepper, cedar, orange peel and burnt sugar accompanied the ever-present vanilla, smoke and oak. Tons of tannins from the barrel made my mouth pucker a bit and the 64.5% ABV created a little more heat than I prefer. That said, Booker’s takes really well to water and or ice so don’t hesitate to try it with your favorite form of agua. The nose is nothing short of spectacular! Cocoa, ginger, orange peel, tobacco and molasses stood out for me, but certainly didn’t paint the whole picture. Nosing Booker’s brings to mind fine Cognac with all of it’s complexity.
The Recluse’s Brazilian maduro wrapper was invitingly oily, silky smooth with no prominent veins and of a rich walnut hue. Wonderful florals off the wrapper, barnyard and damp loam from the foot, this firmly packed toro was just begging to be smoked. A blast of white pepper at first light with an interesting, rather prevalent wild mushroom/truffle note. The sweet spice and metalic taste of the Cameroon binder were there as well and a black raisin note began to develop.
The Recluse produced a full volume of smoke and a fair amount of body as well as strength. I felt it to be a solid medium to medium plus in both categories building toward the end as will most cigars.
Now to the point of this post. The pairing. This is where things went south and why I am not a big fan of the cigar and spirits pairing. Admittedly, these weren’t ideal candidates for enjoying together. Between the alcohol heat and the tannins, my mouth was left a bit overwhelmed and to throw the spice of the Recluse on top of that was just a bad idea.
Bottom line. Enjoy Booker’s on it’s own for the tremendous flavor and complexity. Enjoy the Recluse on it’s own as it is a satisfying flavorful smoke. Take my advice and do not attempt to enjoy them together.