In May, Kentucky based Woodford Reserve released a XO cognac cask finished bourbon in conjunction with crystal maker Baccarat. Available for just one year, it features a custom decanter topped with a crystal stopper and is packaged in a signature red Baccarat box, complete with display doors. The only American whiskey ever bottled in the legendary crystal, it’s produced at Woodford’s standard 90.4 proof, with the cognac cask adding unique zing to an already wondrous flavor profile. “We are extremely proud to announce the partnership both representing craftsmanship at the highest level,” said Mark Bacon, Global Brand Director for Woodford Reserve. $1,500, woodfordreserve.com
PREMIUM MARKET BOOMING
After a blistering 2018 in the handmade premium cigar sector during which exports rose to 362 million cigars (an increase of no less than 9.7 percent) first quarter shipments for this year were off to a similarly robust start, increasing by 3.3 percent. These figures were in a May report released by the Cigar Association of America, one detailing further that Nicaragua remained in the lead position for the quarter in the premium market, with shipments of 38.1 million, up 3.8 percent from the same period last year. Dominican shipments were ranked number two, with 20.6 million premium cigars imported by the U.S. Honduras ranked third, with shipments of 13.2 million. No other country is a significant exporter of handmade cigars to the States. (Cuba is a major producer, of course, but U.S. law prohibits product importation.)
In a winning blend of two of our greatest editorial passions, timekeeping and tobacco have joined forces in select makers. Bell & Ross’s BR WW1 Edition Limitada with warm brown shades and an 18 karat rose gold case inspired by cigars features an earthy brown dial in matte finish with a tobacco hued alligator strap. Created in a limited edition of 99 pieces ($24,000), it’s sold in a humidor fitted with a hygrometer and humidifier. bellross.com
HYT, meanwhile, presents the H1 Cigar watch, which uses liquid for its time indication. The maker has pioneered cases made of polyepoxyde resin this example incorporating actual cigar leaves. “The real challenge was to develop an alloy whose chemical structure we could alter by adding solid foreign elements to its basic formula without affecting reliability or technical properties like hardness, density, or brilliance,” said Vincent Perriard, CEO of HYT. Price available upon request, hytwatches.com
At this year’s International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Trade Show, which concluded in Las Vegas on July 2 (a blast for aficionados, incidentally), Nat Sherman International debuted a pair of limit edrelease blends that caught our palates. The Timeless 2019 Limited Edition seen here made by Quesada Cigars in Licey, Dominican Republic is a corona gorda with a 50 ring gauge, a length of six inches, and a blend combining Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos with a Dominican binder and wrapper (the latter somewhat of a rarity). Sold in boxes of five, with a suggested retail of $85. Sherman’s second rollout was the Limited Edition Epoca a six inch Nicaraguan puro of 52 ring gauge made by the Plasencias crew in Estelí, Nicaragua (and entirely from tobaccos grown in that country). Available in boxes of 10 for $150.
“These two unique cigars are in keeping with our tradition of innovation over the last nearly 90 years,” said Michael Herklots, VP of Nat Sherman International, in a press release. “We’ve worked relentlessly to ensure these are meaningful and memorable additions to the collections of all premium cigar enthusiasts.”