No Smoke Without Dragon
No Smoke Without Dragon - Cigar, Whiskey and Beer Blog.
It’s time to sound the new stock klaxon! We’ve been excited to take delivery of the Partagas Maduro No. 3 for quite some time, so I felt it behoved me to take it for a test drive and simultaneously attempt to dispel a certain popular misconception about Maduro cigars in the process.
Partagas’ Linea Maduro concept was launched at the Habanos Festival in Havana in 2015 with the Maduro No.1 which in but a few short years had so grown in popularity that they expanded the range to also include the Maduro No. 2 and the Maduro No. 3, which we’ll be looking at today.
The Maduro No. 3 particularly appealed to me as it bears a slightly more slender ring gauge than the No. 1, which I have sampled on many occasions, and is roughly half an inch longer, which works perfectly to my preferences as I prefer a slightly more slender and lengthy cigar ordinarily.
Which brings us to the misconception I wanted to dispel: Often people mistake a Maduro wrapper as a mark of a cigar being stronger than a brand’s usual offerings, whereas in actuality it bears no tangible effect on the strength of a cigar and actually provides what’s described as a “top-taste” to the tobacco blend, adding a sweet flavour as opposed to an intensity of strength, which definitely translated into the flavour profile of the Maduro No. 3: the typical earthy Partagas notes aficionados of the brand gravitate towards, lots of caramel in the first third with a healthy helping of walnuts and spice as it develops into the latter thirds.
In terms of beer, I felt my choice had to be something sweet to compliment the cigar but not overbearingly so, as it would be all too easy to lean too far into the sweetness and sicken myself, which led me into my eventual choice: New Holland Brewing’s Dragon’s Milk White.
Dragon’s Milk White pays tribute to New Holland’s multiple decades of barrel-ageing experience, which presents itself in the form of a full flavoured White Stout with strong notes of vanilla, cocoa, coffee roast, and oak from its time in bourbon barrels. The body of the beer itself is no slouch either, with its velvety mouthfeel complimenting the flavour profile incredibly well.
I’ve seen fleeting appearances of White Stouts come and go over the years and for a time was all too quick to dismiss it as a passing gimmick, but considering how often they rear their heads and the usual care and attention invested into their production, I’d actually quite like to see more breweries try their hands at the style, personally.
Given the information that I was armed with about the sweetness of the other aspects of this burgeoning trifecta I was creating, I figured I’d want to add an element of spice to the proceedings to not only cut through the sweetness but also elevate it. For my palate, this counted out a lot of our Bourbon selection, which I find would have leaned the pairing too far into the sweetness, which I was actively trying to avoid; so it meant that a Rye distilled spirit was the way to go.
But with the recent addition of so many high quality rye whiskies to our back bar, this left me in a new unusual quandary: Which rye was my guy?
The answer came very quickly however; Old Potrero was the way to go!
Old Potrero is something of an oddity; originally created by Anchor Distilling, the distilling arm of San Francisco brewing legends Anchor Brewing and crafted in the style of 18th Century American Whiskey using 100% malted rye distilled in pot stills; a very unusual practice indeed! Even more unusual; Old Potrero is matured in barrels that are toasted, not charred. The toasting comes about simply because heating over an open flame was how old-timey coopers bent barrel staves before it was easy to produce a lot of steam for that purpose. Supposedly, it wasn’t until later on that heating to the point of charring came into fashion.
The end result spirit is very grainy; almost yeasty, like rising bread. A little honey, combined with the toasty graininess, gives an impression of Honey Nut Cheerios and good lord it’s spicy, but in the peppery sense, not the baking spice sense; fairly hot and pleasantly sticky on the palate. Spice on the finish, followed by oak, with fruit lingering which is exactly what I had been looking for to fill in the gaps in the pairing!
I have to say, this pairing was just the pick-me-up I needed on what was quite a chilly winters morning. The aforementioned earthy aromas and caramel flavours of the cigar could figuratively wake the dead, and the beautiful spice and warmth growing as the cigar developed into its latter third certainly kicked my brain into gear! The vanilla flavours of Dragon’s Milk slotted into place perfectly with the Maduro No. 3, almost unnervingly so, with the spicy rye notes of Old Potrero interacting just as I’d hoped they would; elevating the sweetness of the cigar and beer whilst filling out the experience in beautiful fashion.
All in all, it was wonderful to take the Maduro No. 3 for a spin and even if you don’t try this pairing, try to make time to try the cigar for yourself; you certainly won’t regret it!