Taste of the Past
The Sazerac Company debuted its Forge & Fils “Finest Original” Cognac a couple years back. Exclusively available at the Sazerac House in New Orleans, this cognac was designed to reflect the flavors and profile of the cognacs of yesteryear, drawing heavily on a number of rare grape varieties. Now Sazerac de Forge & Fils is finally hitting the market at large, giving cognac enthusiasts outside the Bayou State a crack at this storied product. Sazerac pitches this blend as “true to the vine,” with subtle floral hints on the nose and a full-bodied and fresh palate. You can (and should) use this cognac in a Sazerac cocktail, but it’s first and foremost designed to be appreciated in a snifter. $129.99, sazerac.com
It’s been a while since we’ve been able to publicize a real, brick-and-mortar cigar event in these pages, which is all the more reason to celebrate the upcoming Big Smoke Meets Whisky Fest on May 28 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The event is a perfect pairing of cigar and spirit, featuring a who’s who lineup of distillers, cigar makers, and industry experts. There’s also a slate of cigar seminars to discuss the latest industry trends. We’ve really felt the lack of these events in recent years; sampling is the best and quickest way to find a new favorite smoke or sip (think of this festival as a research trip). It’s hard to envision two more enthusiastic communities coming together. And yes, you can smoke inside. Passes starting at $325, bigsmokewhiskyfest.com
General Cigar Co. has done limited annual runs of its Punch Rare Corojo series for a while now. This year’s release, though, is truly rare: a figurado Aristocrat cigar designed to resemble a baseball bat. The design is allegedly an old favorite of Pittsburgh Steelers’ founder Art Rooney and famed Celtics coach Red Auerbach. The Punch Rare Corojo Aristocrat is what Punch calls a “forgotten size,” measuring 6 1/8 inches long with a 54- ring gauge at its widest. Generally speaking, a figurado is any cigar that isn’t straight sided. This cigar features a blend of Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Dominican tobaccos, a Connecticut broadleaf binder and an Ecuador Sumatra-seed wrapper. It takes some imagination to see the baseball bat connection: this thing has a subtle taper to it that keeps it from veering into gimmick territory. $9.99 per cigar in boxes of 20.
GO BIG AND GO HOME
Uncle Nearest made a splash upon launch in 2017, and today, Fawn Weaver’s portfolio of Tennessee whiskeys is the best-selling African-American-owned brand in the business. Five years in, Uncle Nearest is moving beyond its early sourced blends to a lineup of whiskeys distilled, aged, and bottled in-house. This includes a single barrel whiskey and a single barrel rye. Sourced whiskey is common for up-and-coming distilleries, and the move to handling everything on-site in Shelbyville, Tennessee, is an opportunity for the brand to shape every stage of the process. Every whiskey from Uncle Nearest goes through the Lincoln County Process: filtration through sugar-maple charcoal before aging in casks. Expect to see these new single barrel offerings this spring, and expect them to go fast. Price TBD, unclenearest.com
Next Big Thing
Cristalino tequila: ever heard of it? A distant fourth behind the popular añejo, reposado, and blanco expressions, cristalino is nevertheless gaining traction as the next big thing in tequila. Think of it as a cross between the aged complexity of an añejo and the clear, sharp flavors of a blanco. Tres Generaciones, the premium brand distilling out of the aptly named town of Tequila, Jalisco, is the latest big name in the industry to offer a cristalino. Their Añejo Cristalino starts out as 100% Blue Weber Agave, which is triple-distilled, rested in white oak barrels, and then rock filtered. A cristalino tequila tones down the woody notes of an añejo, making for a subtler mix in cocktails and a smoother sip on the rocks. It’s the fastest-growing category in tequila. Nobody wants to be late to a trend, so drink up. $64.99, tresgeneraciones.com