First released by Orleans Group at the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Dram Cigars for Whiskey was conceived as a way to pair specific cigar blends with specific whiskeys in order to bring out the best flavors in each while enjoying both. The first three included blends using three different wrappers: Dram Cask No. 1 which incorporates a Connecticut wrapper, Dram Cask No. 2 which uses a corojo wrapper and Dram Cask No. 3 which includes a habano wrapper.
In June, a new blend, this time from Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. of E.P. Carrillo was released. The Dram Cask No. 4 is composed of a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper covering a Ecuadorian Sumatra binder as well as filler tobacco hailing from Nicaragua.
“In this blend, we found that the true Broadleaf wrapper really shines and is especially well paired with heavier whiskys and that was our goal,” said Rene Castañeda, vp of sales for Orleans Group, in a press release. “It gives us a rich, heavy, intense smoke that provides complexity while not being over the top in terms of strength. It is a medium to full cigar which makes it approachable to all.”
The Dram Cask No. 4 was released in four different vitolas, all of which are sold in boxes of 20:
- Dram Cask No. 4 Robusto (5 x 50) — $11 (Boxes of 20, $220)
- Dram Cask No. 4 Toro (6 x 54) — $11.50 (Boxes of 20, $230)
- Dram Cask No. 4 Churchill (7 x 50) — $12 (Boxes of 20, $240)
- Dram Cask No. 4 Gigantor (6 x 60) — $11 (Boxes of 20, $250)
- Cigar Reviewed: Dram Cask No. 4 Churchill
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A.
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Churchill
- MSRP: $12 (Boxes of 20, $240)
- Date Released: June 8, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
Covered in a splotchy dark espresso brown wrapper, the Dram Cask No.4 is extremely toothy to the touch, but features almost no visible veins at all. The cigar is just a bit spongy when squeezed, and has an obvious lack of oil present. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of earth, leather, hay, cedar, barnyard and sweet dates, while the cold draw brings flavors of oak, leather, the same sweet date fruit and grass.
Starting out, the Dram Cask No. 4 has a fairly simple profile with a creamy oak and leather combination that is effortlessly dominant, followed by much lessor flavors of anise, tobacco, dark chocolate and earth. There is an interesting marzipan sweetness and some slight white pepper on the retrohale that both become a bit more evident as the first third burns down, but neither are strong enough at this point to really affect the profile in any major way. Construction-wise, the burn is excellent so far, albeit with a draw is a bit tighter than I would like, and smoke production is above normal. The strength in the blend is noticeable, but not aggressive, and ends the first third a bit short of the medium mark.
While the marzipan sweetness increases noticeably in the second third of the Dram Cask No. 4, it is still far from a major player in the profile, which is still dominated from the same creamy oak and leather combination. Other notes of espresso, dried tea leaves, gritty earth and cocoa flit in and out, while the white pepper on the retrohale has leveled off by the halfway point. The burn continues to impress, but the draw is still a bit tight for my tastes and the smoke production seems to have fallen off a bit compared to the first third. Strength-wise, the Dram Cask No. 4 hits the medium mark early on in the second third, but stalls out there, and shows no signs of going much further.
The final third of the Dram Cask No. 4 seems to be a carbon copy of the second third, with the same creamy oak and leather combination that has dominated the profile since the beginning remaining on top, with other flavors of earth, tea leaves, anise, tobacco, oak and dark chocolate noticeable at different points. The marzipan sweetness is still present, but largely unchanged in strength, while the pepper on the retrohale has actually increased slightly. The draw remains tighter than I would like, while the draw has become a bit wavy as it gets closer to the end. As expected, the strength never comes close to rising above a medium, and it ends the cigar in pretty much the same place it started by the time I put the nub down with a little less than an inch to go.
- I did try one of these with a whisky—Dalmore Cigar Malt—and while I found the combination of the two fairly enjoyable, I am not sure what makes the Dram Cask No. 4 so different from any other cigar when it comes to pairing it with alcohol.
- Like Charlie Minato mentioned in his review of the Dram Cask No.2, I really love the bands on these cigars. They are extremely high quality, and go very well with the stated purpose of the cigars themselves.
- While not popularly known, Orleans Group distributes not only a large number of humidors and other accessories, but C&C Cigars as well.
- Brian Burt covered the Orleans Group International booth at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show here.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 45 minutes.
- The cigars smoked for this review were given to halfwheel by Orleans Group.
As a blend, the Dram Cask No. 4 is enjoyable but falls far short of being memorable. The profile is extremely linear and has very little progression from beginning to end, although the flavors it does exhibit are fairly distinct. Yes, the addition of whisky brings out some richness in the notes that are present, but I don't always have the option of whisky when I am smoking and on its own the blend is lacking in both complexity and nuance. While I applaud the idea behind the release, if you are smoking sans whisky, there are many other blends that are superior to this blend.