At last year’s trade show, Orleans Group showed off its latest project, Dram Cigars for Whiskey.
Dram was created through Orleans’ partnership with C&C Cigars, which it now distributes. There are three different Dram Cigars each made to be paired with a certain profile of whisky and a fourth cigar on the way.
According to a press release, the four pairings are:
- Dram Cask No. 1 Double Connecticut – Smooth Connecticut with broad flavor in mild plus strength for lighter whiskeys such as Glenmorangie, Balvenie Single Barrel, etc.
- Dram Cask No. 2 Double Corojo – Smooth flavorful corojo made for woody whiskeys but bridges to citrus and caramel driven whiskeys in a medium strength
- Dram Cask No. 3 Double Habano – A medium plus spicy habano for whiskeys and particularly bourbons that have more spice to them and also ties to smokey whiskeys
- Dram Cask No. 4 Double Binder Connecticut Broadleaf – A fuller body dark rich wrapper that highlights smokey, peaty and spicy heavier whiskeys
Each blend is offered in four sizes: Robusto (5 x 50, $8.20), Toro (6 x 52, $8.60), Gigantor (6 x 60, $9.50) and Churchill (7 x 50, $9). In addition, three of the blends—Cask Nos. 1, 2 and 3—are offered in a nine-count sampler of Toros known as The Cask Sampler. The sampler comes in a travel humidor, while the cigars are otherwise sold in boxes of 20.
The fourth blend, Cask No. 4, is not out yet.
- Cigar Reviewed: Dram Cask No. 2
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Dominican Corojo
- Binder: Honduran Corojo & n/a
- Filler: n/a
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $8.60 (Boxes of 20, $172)
- Release Date: 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
I really like the bands of the Dram Cask series. It reminds me a lot of bands from Gurkha and the Alec Bradley Fine & Rare, particularly with the amount of descriptive text on them. Out of the cellophane there’s sweet cocoa and some manure behind it, right around the medium level. From the foot, I pick up a weird mixture of eggplant, mulch, and some harsher tobacco notes that remind me of pilones. None of those peculiarities make it over to the cold draw: it’s a base of woodiness, grains, a touch of harshness and lots of pepper around the tongue and throat.
The Dram Cask No. 2 does not start off with the greatest flavors of all time. There’s lot of pepper on the middle of the tongue, some oak and generic sweetness behind it. On one sample I pick up a fair bit of cinnamon on the tongue, but the pepper still remains. As the first third develops a fruitiness is added into the mixture, but oak and cedar dominate. There’s a bit of harsher walnuts, grass and a generic harshness in the back of the throat. Construction is good, particularly the smoke production, albeit the cigar is burning a bit quick. I’d peg things at medium in strength and body and medium-plus in flavor.
It’s still the woody combination by the midpoint of the Cask No. 2. I don’t identify a huge change in terms of the introduction of flavors, although they’ve definitely rearranged. The fruitiness that I found in the first third, a cherry-like flavor, is now solely though the nose while the walnuts have moved towards the throat. A flavor that reminds me of a pile of wet leaves finds its way onto the tongue after the hallway point, but other than that, there’s not really any new flavors. While most everything else stays the same, the draw tightens a bit.
As the last inch burns down, the cigar slows down quite a bit. The profile is still very woody, but there’s some sourness that is developing. It eventually morphs into a harsh grapefruit flavor in the nose, joined by some saltiness and oregano. The cigar makes all the way to the end without being touched-up and the smoke production remains generous until the end.
- I smoked three cigars and scored two. For thefinal sample, I smoked it with a variety of whiskies, something I normally do not do.Orleans Group sent a bottle ofBalvenieDoubleWood 12 with the cigars for review, whichwas described as something that the company thought would pair well with the No. 2. In addition, I pulled a variety of other whiskies out of my stash.
- Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2013 — A personal favorite for me in the bourbon world, but it drowns out the cigar. The citrus notes provide an interesting mixture, but I think both are left better separate.
- Balvenie DoubleWood 12 — Vanilla from the whisky is brought out even more by the cigar. While both have a fair bit of oak, they still manage to separate themselves.
- Highland Park 12 — Cigar helps deal with the bitterness in the back of the tongue from the whisky.
- Evan Williams Single Barrel Corona Cigar Co. (2004) — Pairs very well. There’s some citrus notes in the bourbon that emerge that otherwise are a bit hidden, completely different from the Old Forester. The Dram picks up some of the sweetness.
- Angel’s Envy — Pairs well, spiciness on the cigar does well with the lack of pepper in the cigar.
- Booker’s — Cigar actually does well to bring out some woodiness of the pairing, but the overproof bourbon is just too big.
- Blanton’s — And drunk.
- I am not a pairings expert by any means. At this point, I review cigars without water most the time. When I’m casually smoking and drinking, there’s a good chance I will have some rum—I mean Diplomaticó—or a heavy beer.
- For me, the milder scotches helped the cigar more than the bourbons did. However, the cigar did calm down a few of the bourbons, but was no match for something like Booker’s.
- The bands are great.
- Orleans Group is one of the larger distributors of humidors and other accessories, but also distributes C&C Cigars.
- While there was a lot of different types of harshness, none of it was incredibly overwhelming, but I could have done without much of it.
- I’ve always spelled it whisky, but Dram spells it whiskey.
- In my Ten Questions for 2015 editorial, I wrote that I thought we could see an increased amount of cigars made for pairings or in partnership with craft beer and spirits companies.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes.
I think the concept is novel and one that can be very successful, particularly at events. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the cigar by itself to be anything I’d pick up again. I don’t know what cigar I would pick to pair right off the bat to pair with any of the aforementioned whiskies, but it wouldn’t be the Cask No. 2. While the construction was great, there’s just not enough going on flavor-wise that leads me to believe this could survive in today’s cigar market without the pairing aspect. But even then, I can’t help but think of the Illusione Epernay, a cigar designed to be paired with champagne, but a great cigar without the pairing. This is simply not that.