I've experimented with a lot of cigar and beverage pairings over the past few years. Be it whiskey, beer, coffee, soda, tea, etc., many work, some do not. Surprising as it may seem, I find coffee to be one of the hardest things to pair with cigars, especially black coffee. (Which, face it, is the only proper way to drink coffee.) Plain water is way down on my list when it comes to cigar accompaniment. To me it rarely enhances, and sometimes detracts from the cigar's flavor.
Most enjoyable are those times when a pairing works exceptionally well. That was the case recently when I poured some Jim Beam Repeal Batch bourbon with the Crowned Heads Le Carême Belicosos Finos 2021.
Jim Beam Repeal Batch is a bottle I picked up when it was first released in 2019. I enjoyed it, and emptied most of the bottle, before being distracted by other things. Repeal Batch is said to have been inspired by the Jim Beam bourbon of the 1930's. The bourbon is aged four years, is non-chill filtered, and bottled at 43%ABV. The flavor profile features oak, butter, and vanilla. It's a very smooth sipper with a clean finish. It sells locally (when you can find it) for $16.99 for a 750 ml bottle. It's a fine whiskey at a bargain price.
Recently I had to urge to dig out the Repeal Batch again. When I had the chance to do so on a recent Friday evening, I thought hard about what cigar to enjoy with it. I settled on the limited edition Le Carême Belicosos Finos 2021. Le Carême from Crowned Heads is one of my "keep on hand" cigars and the belicosos format is one I really enjoy in many cigars.
This turned out to be a great pairing, surpassing even my expectations. The cigar is medium bodied with creamy, sweet notes. There's a touch of cedar spice to add some complexity. The sweet oak and vanilla of the bourbon complimented it to perfection.
When I picked up this bourbon a couple years ago, the guy at the ABC store remarked, "At that price, you should buy more." In retrospect, he was right, and I'll probably grab more when I see it on the shelves. After a long period of unavailability, the regular production Le Carême is back in the stores. The limited release series is probably gone until another year, but I'll be watching for it too.