Spice, Earth, and Barley

Welcome to the cigar lounge. Last time we were here, I paired a CAO Italia cigar with Glenfiddich scotch.

Today, the cigar of choice will be a Cusano 59 in a preferido vitola, from the Dominican Republic, accompanied by a mug of Miller draft beer.

Usually seasoned cigar smokers like to have coffee, whiskey, rum, scotch, or bourbon with their stogies. In this case, there is a reason I chose a brew, but before I explain, I’d like to discuss the preferido style of cigars.

Their shape is different. The base is wider than the tip, while the middle is wider than both the tip and base. It’s sort a narrow, oval shape.

It’s tricky to cut the top off such a cigar. You can see where the cap has been wrapped on flattop cigars and that serves as a guideline for cutting. With a preferido, the tip is pointed. I usually cut it off at a quarter-ofan-inch. I light it and draw. If that isn’t enough, I cut off another quarter of an inch. I would not suggest cutting more than halfan-inch.

Some say smoking preferidos is like sucking smoke through a straw, while others say the narrow tip enhances the flavour. It’s a matter of personal preference; I always enjoy them.

This cigar is nicely constructed. A dark Cameroon wrapper is used to bind it, and is also wrapped around the middle. Cameroon wrappers are dark brown, and have a solid medium spice. With this in mind, I decided on a mild, neutral drink. Miller is a classic light-tasting beer.

The first third of the cigar offers a deep spice experience. As I smoke it I’m reminded of a spice market. The cigar is sharply cinnamon-fl avoured, not peppery, as some are. The beer is a perfect neutral accompaniment.

A ping pong match takes off on my tongue — between earth and spice flavours — as I ease out of the first third of the preferido. It doesn’t take long for full earthy fl avours to rise in dominance.

Suddenly, I’m in a deeply wooded forest with lots of fresh moss. The coldness of the beer doesn’t abandon me; it blends very well with this particular part of the Cusano 59.

The spice almost disappears throughout much of the second third but it resurfaces in the last third. This time, hints of cherry come through in the smoke. When I approach the last two-and-a-half inches, a new fl avour emerges. It took a while for me to recognize the elusive taste of roasted nuts. However, once I nailed it down I thought it was really a nice thing for the spice flavour to trail into.

The flavours, complex as they are, transition well, and I’m just as into the construction of the cigar after having smoked it as I was before — no burn issues, nice white ash. The burn time is just over an hour.

The Miller draft was a perfect travel mate.

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