Published on October 24th, 2013 | by Siz2
CAO Flathead Paired with Evan Williams Single Barrel
This cigar pairing was something that I had really been wanting to try for awhile. I still had a few sticks leftover from when I reviewed the CAO Flathead. I wanted to try and pair it with something, and see what happened. Instantly I thought about pairing it with Evan Williams Single Barrel. I just had a small amount of left of this bourbon so I wanted to make it worth while. So I’ll consider this a somewhat hybrid approach of pairing. It wasn’t necessarily academic nor random approach. I knew that I wanted to pair each product, but I wasn’t sure what would work best so I just pushed them both together!
After taking a look at the flavor wheels for each product, I’m pretty excited to see what sort of flavors I’ll discover with this cigar pairing. The Evan Williams Single Barrel has a strong woody note to it with some sweet aromatics as well. While the CAO Flathead takes up the sweet, spicy, and earthy notes. So it’ll be interesting to see how all of these earthy / woody notes combine and see if they clash or compliment.
Well enough chit chat let’s see what happens!
It’s getting to be that time of year, the temperature is beginning to drop. I finally had to bust out my heater to keep me warm while smoking. Luckily the cooler weather chills my bourbon glass which in turns chills my bourbon. Luckily this Evan Williams Single Barrel doesn’t require me to cut it with water or chill it with ice. I can simply drink it neat without it blowing my taste receptors away.
I’ve become a big fan of this CAO Flathead. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to pair it today, to see how well it works with others. I took the first sip of bourbon and swirled it around to really coat my mouth to get it ready for this cigar’s flavor. As soon as I took the first puff I had an interesting reaction to the flavors. I was slightly confused and taken back a little. Needless to say I wasn’t incredibly happy with how the flavors were combined during the first couple of puffs. Mid-way through the 1st third I was beginning to question my pairing choice entirely.
The first flavor combination that hit me was this combination of wood and earth. Which is understandable after examining the flavor wheels of these two products. However the combination that it created was a very flat/shallow musty flavor. Not something that’s really appealing to my palate. It really feels like these two are fighting each other right now. I’ll tell you what, no one is winning this battle. I’m powering through this initial third hoping to reach a better flavor profile, because right now it’s not good.
At this point I’m having to ration my bourbon. There wasn’t much of it to begin with, and with every drink there is less. Weird how that works. The cigar is smoking like a champ. Incredible ash, great draw and perfect burn. Individually these products are fantastic. However their powers combined, are not making me enjoy them.
During this third the flavor combination picked up intensity a bit. The bourbon started hitting a little harder becoming the major player, but then it would back off a little and let the cigar flavors shine through. There was a nice balance of power between the flavors which is always a good attribute in a cigar pairing.
The flavors are working slightly better together right now. There is this kind of minty / spicy thing going on back and forth. There is some spice up front and then it finishes with a nice airy minty flavor. Very interesting change of pace from the musty flavors on the initial third. That bitterness and mustiness have mostly dissipated, but occasionally pop it’s head back in to check on things.
Towards the end of the 2nd third a new herbal flavor started to really develop. It was like chewing on tea leaves. I was getting that minty-ness along side a strong tea like flavor. Then towards the end there was a strong dose of anise. That always seemed to hit as the cigar smoke rolled out of my mouth and latched on to the bourbon that was still coating my palate. Not a huge fan of this flavor combination, but it was a unique note to say the least.
I’m glad each of these products stands out on their own because together, it’s just not a good combination for me. I’m struggling to find something positive to say about this pairing. The cigar is smoking incredibly well, probably the best out of the CAO Flatheads that I’ve had. It’s just hard to power through this pairing.
About half way through the final third I finally purged the cigar to see if that would get rid of some of the bitterness that I was experiencing. It helped a little, but I really don’t think that was the problem. I honestly just didn’t like this flavor combination. It wasn’t enjoyable for my palate. Some of you may love this pairing, but personally I wouldn’t try it again.
Towards the end of this pairing the flavors became very bitter and extremely herbal. It was like I was smoking hops. I know a lot of people out there enjoy a hoppy beer. I appreciate them and can drink them, but they’re not my favorite. I wouldn’t even put this cigar pairing in the same realm as a hoppy beer, but that’s the closest thing I can think of to describe the flavors going on right now.
It’s just not pleasant whatsoever. I’ve powered through as long as I can but I finally put the cigar out before I hit the nub. I had finished my bourbon and to me this pairing was not getting any better and therefore it was time to call the game.
Well, pairing the CAO Flathead and this Evan Williams Single Barrel seemed like a good idea on the outset. But it turned into a disaster when implemented. I honestly love each of these products on their own and I was really hoping for a great flavor combination. It just didn’t happen though. Too much of the earthy / herbal notes for me. It became overwhelming bitter and not enjoyable. I’d love to try this cigar with something that has more sweetness to it. I think the woody notes of the bourbon were just too much. I think the cigar would go a lot better with something like the Pyrat rum. Although I didn’t really enjoy this pairing it was good to experience it. It just puts more information in my head about how certain flavors work well together and how others don’t. Well that’s all for now, on to the next pairing!