Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in one of the most unique pairings I’ve ever experienced. While I’ve attended pairings featuring various liquors, beers, wines, chocolates, coffees, teas and even nuts, Camacho brought this event to a subject near and dear to my heart — BARBEQUE.
The folks at Camacho had a blinding flash of the obvious and identified that cigar smoking and the Great American Cookout are a staple of our modern society. Whether you’re manning the brisket smoker for an overnighter, enjoying the mojo infused carnitas from a Cuban La Caja China or just flipping burgers in the backyard, cookouts are the perfect setting for enjoying a great cigar.
So, when Camacho came up with the great idea of pairing their cigars with barbecue sauces and beef jerky, I jumped at the chance to be part of their test audience.
We started with the mildest of the bunch, the Camacho Connecticut, paired with the tangy Carolina inspired Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet Golden Mustard sauce. We started smoking the cigar, getting to the first third point and letting the flavors develop. Peeling open a fresh strip of Jack Links, we were told to use the jerky to dip into the sauce and coat our tongues with the sweet, tangy sauce. We were then directed to take a few healthy puffs of the Camacho, to see how the sauce affected the flavors we could identify. After repeating the process a few times, we were then directed to take a bite out of the Jack Links Beef Jerky, adding a complementary stack of flavors to the sauce and cigar.
Anyone that’s participated in a pairing knows that every layer of flavor from the food / drink brings out a different range of experiences from the cigar. Camacho’s Connecticut holds many interesting flavors that need just a little coaxing out from where they hide within the creamy, somewhat naturally sweet experience you typically get from this solid cigar.
Building in the intensity of flavor and strength from the mild end of the spectrum, we next started up a Camacho Ecuador. This cigar begins with Dominican and Honduran fillers, secured with a spicy Brazilian binder and finished with a beautiful Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. By itself, the cigar imparts pecan tones, backed with a slight spiciness, from the binder, with additional floral and citrus tones. By itself, Camacho’s Ecuador is a major treat!
With the Ecuador, we paired Sweet Baby Ray’s Original sauce, which brings a decidedly smokey flavor to the mix. Just as subtle hickory tones enhance the natural meat flavors of ribs and pulled pork, so too does the sauce’s smokiness bring added depth to the natural tobacco flavors of the Camacho Ecuador.
After being directed to take another bite of jerky, coated in the Original sauce, you’ll notice the combination of salt, smoke and sweetness bring depth to the already well balanced flavors of the Ecuador.
The folks at Camacho take their Corojo VERY SERIOUSLY! The full-bodied Camacho Corojo starts with three separate primings of Camacho’s coveted Jamastran Valley grown Corojo tobacco. Those leaves are all bound together by more Corojo before the cigar is draped in a super high quality 5th priming Honduran Corojo wrapper leaf.
Thanks to expert blending, each Corojo comes together in harmony to produce a smooth, yet complex, mix of dry nuts (think walnut), cedar, leather and wood.
After making our way through the first third of the Corojo, the cigar is ready for its pairing. Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet & Spicy sauce was chosen to both complement and contrast with this Honduran Corojo puro.
When you’ve got a full bodied / full flavored cigar, you’ve got to put it up against equally full bodied / full flavored food and drink. The Camacho Corojo requires both power and finesse to enhance it’s core experience. The combination of the intense long-lasting sweetness of complex thick molasses combined with the slow building heat of elegant jalapeno peppers, is the perfect vehicle to intensify some of the best qualities of the Camacho Corojo, much like intense concentrated sauce brings out the best in slow smoked burnt ends.
The Jack Links really paired best with the Sweet & Spicy sauce, which made the bite pairing great. With the added salt, smoke and oils of the meat, along with the slight burn of the jalapeno from the sauce, the Corojo flavors became more pronounced
We’ve scheduled a public version of this event at our shop in Annapolis on the evening of Thursday, July 29th. We’ll post additional details when we get everything confirmed, but plan on dinner and a great time!