The Torpedo Lounge
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The Torpedo Lounge

Cigar Guide to Pairings

What do you do after you've smoked 744 cigars, resmoked dozens of them and sampled again to whittle them down to the Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 Cigars of the Year? Well, you relax by smoking the Top Five again, this time with a libation. But not just any beverage will do in this stratospheric company. Admittedly, we splurged a bit to find partners that were worthy of pairing with these exemplary smokes. We won't lie—it was well worth it.

My Father Bijou 1922 Torpedo Box Pressed, paired with Hennessy XO Cognac

No. 1 Cigar of 2015

My Father Le Bijou 1922 Torpedo Box Pressed
    —paired with Hennessy XO Cognac

A handful of strategies define how to approach a cigar pairing. You can match the bodies of the elements—e.g. mild-bodied cigar with a mild-bodied spirit, full-bodied cigar with a full-bodied dram. You can try to match up tasting notes—sweet cigars with fruity spirits—or even create contrast—introduce chocolate to salt. But when a cigar—as with our No. 1 choice for 2015—isn't easily pigeon-holed, you need a whole other quality in the spirit: complexity. Few categories do intricacy as well as the well-bred brandies of Cognac's XO level. It is at that stratum that the largest house in the French region particularly excels, because it blends from a vast storehouse of eaux-de-vie of different qualities and ages. The term XO (extra old) was created for Hennessy's melding of more than 100 spirits of between 10 and 70 years. Enough said?

  • Hennessy XO (80 proof, or 40 percent alcohol by volume; $200 per 750 ml. bottle)
  • APPEARANCE: Very dark amber, almost red color. Fat, slow legs.
  • NOSE: The fruit shows up first as ethereal, elegant grapes. Candied orange follows and then toffee as well as toast. The closing aroma is a nutty rancio together with a slight bit of wax.
  • PALATE: A rollercoaster of sensations define this complicated brandy. After its fruity sweetness with rich wine, berries and pears, you're surprised to slide into a spicy place where pepper, licorice and cinnamon reside. Your palate then recovers to climb into a region of savory nuts, toast and woodiness. Another act follows with toffee, caramel and cocoa.
  • FINISH: The flavors linger on and on, repeating with resounding reports of every nuance.
  • CIGAR PAIRING: Balance is the calling card of this pairing as the bodies matchup almost perfectly and each element brings in notes that find a complement in the other. The cigar's chocolate seeks out the lingering cocoa on the brandy. The Hennessy's fruit boosts the raisins on the My Father. The sweetness of the Cognac also counterweights a slight charcoal on the cigar.

My Father Bijou 1922 Torpedo Box Pressed

The original My Father brand was created by Jaime Garcia to honor his father, Pepin. A year later, Pepin decided to honor his own father with an offshoot brand called My Father Le Bijou 1922. Unlike the originals, which wear an Ecuadoran cover leaf, Le Bijou 1922 cigars are darker and stronger. The blend is Nicaraguan from top to bottom, showcasing Cuban-seed wrappers that the Garcia family calls oscuro. Only one size—this torpedo—is box-pressed. Some will say that box-pressing a cigar is only an aesthetic decision. But when the Garcias took this hearty, complex blend, rolled it into a torpedo shape and then gave it a pressing, the result stood out for its ability to deliver complex notes clearly and harmoniously.

The date 1922 denotes the birth year of José Garcia, the father of José “Pepin” Garcia. Le Bijou means “the jewel” in French. And this cigar is emblematic of all the Garcia family has achieved. Pepin started as a roller in Cuba before emigrating to Miami and eventually opening up a tiny rolling gallery in Little Havana. Commercial and critical acclaim for his cigars allowed expansion into Nicaragua. Today, Pepin, Jaime and Janny Garcia lead My Father Cigars, and their factory in Estelí produces millions of cigars a year. Despite rapid growth, the family still takes great care in producing cigars of quality and distinction, which shows in this My Father Le Bijou 1922 Torpedo Box Pressed. It takes a profound understanding of cigar tobaccos to create a smoke that conveys uncanny impressions of dark chocolate-covered raisins, savory leather and a sweet-and-salty finish that resonates on the palate.

This cigar has an ideal combination of power and finesse to make it No. 1. It’s the second Cigar of the Year for the Garcias.