Aromas of caramel, maple, vanilla, hazelnut, toffee and fig may conjure up visions of decadent desserts—not a signature pairing for “fire and ice” (cigars and spirits). Yet cigars—traditionally associated with wealth, luxury, sophistication and the occasional celebration of getting married and having a baby—are perhaps a bit more complicated than you might expect.
Add in spirits and the nuances of flavor and the play on the senses can be confusing. Dig futher into the details of brands, tasting notes and pairings and you might become downright bewildered. The good news is, whether you are new to spirits and cigars, or a seasoned aficionado, Terranea offers a unique social and educational experience with custom or featured pairings.
Guests enjoy a taste comparison of a unique spirit, some of which are highly allocated and others that are a flagship within their category, i.e. bourbon, Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky, and get a handle on cigar basics.
Spirit and cigar pairings at Terranea Resort’s Lobby Bar offer guests an opportunity to sit back and relax into the sensory experience, inquire about regional characteristics and ingredient profiles, and even learn about perplexing spellings and brand differences. For example, “whiskey” is the accepted spelling in the U.S. and Ireland, and “whisky” without the “e” for most of the world with a few exceptions thrown in from rebel brands.
And then there is Bourbon, which is whiskey ditilled from corn and only produced in the the U.S. Add in Rye whiskey and your head might be spinning or at least humming “American Pie” by Don Mclean and the familiar lyric, “them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye”. The iconic song is classic Americana, rock and roll and a homage to simpler times … the perfect metaphor for the mood and sentiment that sets the scene for experiential learning and leisured sipping in Terranea’s Lobby Bar.
The pairing experience, with expert staff guidance and a comfortable social atmosphere, creates a personalized introduction to all the nuances of matching your favorite spirit with a perfect cigar.
“Every month Terranea features a pairing of cigars and whiskey/whisky to highlight a featured brand partner as well as offering customized experiences upon request,” says Aloys Scheer, mar’sel’s general manager and Terranea’s beverage director.
As a seasoned professional, Aloys has been in the industry for 15 years—all within the luxury segment of hotels and restaurants—ranging from work in Paris, France, to Beverly Hills and now as a member of the Terranea team.
He is a Certified Spirits Specialist as well as a Level I-II Sommelier and found his passion in restaurants and the beverage industry when he started to gain more education in his craft around the late ‘90s.
Currently he oversees the signature fine dining restaurant for Terranea, along with a first-class beverage team that handles signature drinks for the resort’s 10 outlets. The focus is on local craft distillers and partnerships with signature brands that allow for specialized pairings.
Guests can partipate in Library Wine Dinners, which pair fine wines perfectly suited to some of the food offered at Terranea, along with the monthly scotch and whiskey flights paired with signature cigars at the Lobby Bar.
Monthly cigar and whiskey/whisky pairings showcase different expressions for specific labels, or pairings that have similar finishes.
Aloys offers us a signature Caribbean Cask Finishes pairing event, highlighting a few favorite matches here. They will also offer a Highland Park Scotch Whisky Pairing event which takes place the entire month of November.
Caribbean Expressions Paired with Cigars
Angel’s Envy Rye is a immensely complex whiskey resulting from up to 18 months finishing in Caribbean rum casks. The marriage of raw, spicy and earthy rye with the mellow sweetness of rum finishing creates an incomparably smooth and drinkable whiskey, even at 100 proof.
Nose: aromas of citrus, caramel candy, maple sugar, vanilla oak, hazelnut, spice and sherry wood
Palate: sweet rum sherry wood and soft oak
Finish: both sweet and dry, as well as quick and easy
Cigar pairing: Romeo Y Julietta 1875 Gran Toro—a 54-ring gauged handmade cigar that is packed solid with Dominican and Brazilian tobaccos. It has a medium–bodied smoke with a noticeable blend of hazelnut, cedar, light peppery, earth and coffee flavors.
Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 year old Scotch whisky. Malt master David Stewart filled American oak casks with his own blend of select West Indian rums, essentially cranking up the whisky expression. The result is an exceptional single malt whisky with the traditional subdued, honeyed character of The Balvenie, mingled with notes of toffee, smokey vanilla and a hint of fruit, with a smooth warm, lingering finish.
Nose: rich, sweet and creamy toffee on the nose combined with fresh fruit notes and a slight spicy cinammon auromatic quality from the rum cask
Palate: rounded with vanilla and sweet oak notes, with a sugary fruity character that develops with time
Finish: soft, smooth and lingering
Cigar pairing: Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story—Hemingway wrote many short stories, but unfortunately he never lived to smoke one of these. This vintage beauty is velvety smooth with deep, luxurious flavors and medium-bodied smoke that offers touches of cedar and cacao roast.
Glenfiddich 21 years is a traditional Speyside whiskey, rich and ripe with Glenfiddich signature notes. The 21-year-old is finished in Caribbean rum casks. Exotic notes of ginger, fig, lime, banana and a vibrant spicy toffee warmth, elevate the flavor profile from great to something exceptional.
Nose: intense and vanilla sweet, floral, hints of banana, figs, rich toffee, new leather and oak
Palate: initially soft, then brisk, vibrant and drying, peppery, a touch of smoke, oak, lime, ginger and spices
Finish: very long, warming, dry and spicy
Cigar pairing: Avo 88 Limited—a mix of vintage Dominican long fillers along with a mixed color and criollo binder. This full-bodied cigar is wrapped in an exquisite Dominican Yamasa wrapper that exudes hints of chocolate and pepper.
Written & photographed by Kara Mickelson