In late 2014, Drew Estate announced the release of the Smoking Monk of Esteli series. Each Smoking Monk cigar was blended to pair with a specific type of beer. Naturally we got excited over at Sharing Our Pairings. Drew Estate blending cigars to be paired with beer is like a dream come true!
The Smoking Monk of Esteli line is exclusive to Cigars International and can be purchased from CI or from Cigar.com. In the coming weeks we will post reviews of each blend and also feature each Smoking Monk on Sharing Our Pairings.
Here is a look at each of the five blends:
Hefeweizen – Mild-bodied with creamy notes of vanilla and a sweet finish
Imperial Stout – Hearty, medium to full-bodied blend with nuances of cacao and sweetened dark roast coffee
American IPA – Medium-bodied with a zesty flavor profile of citrus, spice, and slight smoky finish
Porter – Well-balanced, medium-bodied blend filled with notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and caramel
Triple Belgian – Medium to full-bodied with a rich, complex tobacco flavor and a spicy finish
Obviously each cigar is blended to pair with a particular type of beer. In the Cigar.com catalogue they take it one step further and give specific pairing recommendations. The beers recommended for the Smoking Monk Imperial Stout are:
I decided to go with the Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout for a few reasons, but mainly because I could easily get my hands on it.
The Smoking Monk of Esteli by Drew Estate Imperial Stout
Size: 6.5 x 54
Cigars Smoked for this Review: Two (1 solo, 1 paired)
Price Point: $9.00
Cigar Purchased: Samples provided by Cigar.com
Note: For this review I used the CF rating system. You can view it in detail here.
Cigar Notes: The Smoking Monk of Esteli Imperial Stout has some interesting tobacco in it. There has been some chatter about these cigars being infused and I can understand why. I have no "inside knowledge," but I am confident that this particular blend is not infused. It has some unique flavors and the aroma is quite pleasant, but it's not infused.
The profile of the Smoking Monk Imperial stout was smooth with some sweet vanilla and fruit notes up front with a smoky finish. There wasn't a ton of complexity or transition throughout and I think that makes it perfect for pairing. The strength was a solid medium though I can see some folks calling it a full. The construction was spot on with great smoke production and a sharp burn.
This cigar was not blended to be smoked on its own, but it was still rather enjoyable. There was enough flavor going on to keep me interested, but this thing really shines when paired.
Beer Notes: I'll preface this by saying that I am not a beer expert. I really enjoy stouts and the Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewing happens to be in my regular rotation. The flavors are big and bold while the texture is smooth and creamy. The nose offers aromas of chocolate and coffee and the pour looks like something out of a Super Bowl commercial. The mouthfeel is rich and smooth and the profile has a perfect balance of sweet and earth.
The Old Rasputin is exactly what an imperial stout should be. It packs a ton of flavor in a creamy profile with 9% abv. If you like stouts, then you have probably had the Old Rasputin. If you haven't had it, stop reading now and go get one. I'll wait...
Pairing Notes: On the Sharing Our Pairings show we talk a lot about the goal of pairing. Do you want to highlight the cigar? Do you want to highlight the beverage? Do you want them to complement each other or contrast each other? In this case the thinking is done for you. The Smoking Monk and Old Rasputin were quite simply (and possibly quite literally) made for each other.
The pairing of these two brings out the best in both. The vanilla sweetness and smokey finish on the Smoking Monk are highlighted by the chocolate and coffee of the Old Rasputin. This is one of the best pairings I have ever had. Each element of the cigar and the beer seem to be intensified when paired. It sounds like hyperbole, but they are a perfect match and I can't recommend this enough.
Cigar Rating: 87 AKA "5-Pack"
There is no question that I would grab a 5-Pack of these cigars to smoke on their own. I like the sweetness of the tobacco and the aroma is attractive. It's the kind of cigar I like to smoke while reading a book. I can smoke it and enjoy it without thinking too much.
Pairing Rating: 92 AKA "Box Split"
I'll happily grab 10 of these Smoking Monk Imperial Stout's and 10 of the Old Rasputin's. The pairing is simply phenomenal.