When a friend does come for the express purpose of smoking and drinking, I usually start out with a small exploratory tasting to decide what to pour. (I'm a believer in sticking with a single choice for an evening, rather that jumping around to different pours.) For a recent occasion, a friend and I settled on Sagamore Spirit Sherry Finish Rye. I find sherry and port finished whiskeys to be very complimentary to most cigars. I selected a Plasencia Reserva Original for our enjoyment. Colleen brought out cheese, crackers, nuts, and grapes to snack on. She's a rye fan, so she joined us on the deck as well.
Sagamore Spirit is carrying on the Maryland Rye tradition that started before, and resumed after Prohibition. I always think of Pikesville Rye when I think Maryland Rye, but that is now produced in Kentucky by Heaven Hill Distillery. Sagamore Spirit comes from Baltimore's Inner Harbor area, though they do employ sourced distillates.
This expression consists of a blend of four year old rye that is aged for 18 months in PX Sherry casks. The rye appears a deep burnt orange color in the glass. Aromas of dark fruit like figs, cherries, and raisons greet the nose. The opening sip brings a quick hit of cinnamon. That quickly subsides as the sherry influence on the rye comes to the forefront. The dark sherry flavors come through, with a hint of citrus and rye spice. The 106 proof is evident but not harsh or all-encompassing. I truly like this one and will be sad to see the bottle emptied, which may happen over a shorter timeline than planned.
The Plasencia Reserva is made with all Nicaraguan tobaccos. The cigar is medium bodied with a rich flavor profile that compliments the sherry influenced rye very well. Espresso, cedar, pepper, dark cherry notes, and some sweet toasted bread combine for an enjoyable pairing.
The rich flavor of the rye and the cigar prepared us quite well for the BBQ rib dinner that followed.