This pair was actually sparked on by my last visit to Miami. We were walking on 8th street in Little Havana and passed by a small factory (El Titan de Bronze), which intrigued us so we walked in. After speaking with a lovely lady at the front desk, she was telling us about the cigars that were rolled there and ended up mentioning that Ernesto was actually there in the back. She called him up and we were introduced. After speaking with Ernesto for a while, we really got the feeling that he was a ‘down-to-earth’ and humble guy. Meeting the face behind the brand will always spark additional interest, so that’s where it came from.
When I decided to do this cigar, I actually decided to go across the border with my wife to eat at the Cheesecake Factory (always a favourite), and while over there I would stop in at Virgil Avenue Tobacconist since they carried the Padilla line and we don’t have them in Canada as of yet. So I went over, purchased my pairing cigar and a few others (spent about $95) and then carried about my day. That evening when crossing back over the border, we had a huge wait already and seemed to be lined up for the customs officer that was on his first shift ever. We finally got up to the booth and the guy asked if we had purchased anything and I told him a tshirt and some cigars. He asked how many and I told him 7. Now, I know that the limit is ZERO, but I’ve often done this and they just let me go through… not this guy. He wrote up his piece of paper and told me to go inside to pay the duties on the sticks. To hurry this story, the customs officers told me that I would have to be $187 tax and duties (on top of my $95 purchase). I told them that was ridiculous and left them at the border. Crappy end to the day.
Luckily I had a friend crossing the border for a few days who was able to grab me some and bring the back for me, so the pair was able to proceed.
So, when I had decided to go with these cigars, I actually reached out to Ernesto Padilla himself to ask what he likes to pair with these cigars. He recommended either a Highland Park or a Balvenie, so I started out on my research and then ended up with the Highland Park 18.
About Highland Park 18
Founded in 1798 presumably by Magnus Eunson, the distiller was named after the area it was founded on from Kirkwall, Orkney in Scotland. This distillery is one of the few that actually malt their own barley and in 1984 they were the only whiskey to ever score a rating of 100% by the regular tasting team of The Scotsman.
About the Padilla Vintage Reserva
Padilla’s website actually does a fantastic job of eloquently writing about their history and I recommend you go here to read about it. This beautiful looking cigar is the first special edition release from Padilla since their partnership with Oliva Cigar Co. It’s not a limited edition, but a limited production and each box is numbered along with each cigar being numbered. I am a big fan of the Padilla band designs and logo design, so the entire package of this cigar is top notch looking!
About the pair
So to start this pair, we tried the whiskey first. We didn’t just jump right to it though, we first followed the steps to a whiskey tasting by Gerry Tosh from Highland Park (view here). Upon first taste, our tastebuds came alive with the taste of caramel, fruits, cinnamon and brown sugar. The finish was quite dry, but this is something Highland Park is known for and the tongue continues with the beautiful taste and sensation long after the swallow. After savouring the flavours of the drink, we were excited to finally cut and light the beautiful sticks. Right off the top, we all found that the cigar had tons of pepper, but very flavourful rather than just burning. We also found it to be quite ‘throaty’ and very rich.
After switching back to the drink, the cigar seemed to make the drink even smoother and much more sweetness comes out in the drink. Also, the finish is a bit shorter and more citrus flavours begin to emerge. After going back and forth for a while, the cigar’s spice has definitely toned down but it’s left with tons of flavour.
In the end, we were all more than satisfied with this pairing and found it to definitely be a #nicepair. We highly recommend you check it out for yourself and let us know what you think! This whiskey and cigar are definitely worth trying!