I HAVE attended and hosted hundreds of cigar events over the years, and many of these were notched up during the dreaded lockdown when we discovered the benefits of communal online get-togethers for the first time.
During the height of the pandemic, I was online six or seven nights a week, linking guests from around the world and quizzing cigar makers from dozens of brands for a number of UK retailers and distributors.
Yet last week’s Sautter event with Davidoff was utterly unique in the annals of great smokes, camaraderie, music, spirits and friendship. It was an expert-led, tutored tasting of individual component leaves made up especially for ticketed clients into a series of small cigars.
This is truly innovative. Under the wonderfully knowledgeable gaze of Davidoff’s Head of Blending, Pedro Pérez, guests opened their special Sautter packs to the delight of four cigars – three of specific individual component leaves, and finally, the finished combined end cigar from the Davidoff Grand Cru line.
Never before have I seen a more powerful window into the art of cigarmaking at a distance – immediately giving attendees a powerful demonstration into the art, practicalities, complexities, alchemy and gathering generations of knowledge and experience that all play a part in getting a hand-rolled cigar into your humidor.
To oil the wheels, there were three different generous drams from the Glasgow Distillery also included in the bargain price pack. The first corona-size cigar was made entirely of Dominican Olor leaves. This smoke turned out to be salty, slightly musty, with a background hint of sweetness. It was, of course, immediately a one-dimensional smoke, but that was part of the demonstration. Inoffensive and harmonious, the Olor was described by Pedro as the perfect marrying component to a variety of other, more characterful, tobaccos.
Next up was a cigar made of San Vicente leaf; this was immediately deeper, spicier and more complex. Interestingly, it also caused a lot of saliva production – which helps the palate taste more and better. The aroma from this leaf was also very pleasing.
Next on the rota was Piloto; a very bold, sweet and sour flavour immediately apparent. There was pepper and spice down the nose and even a note of chilli! This was a serious hombre and most of us left it half-smoked before it punched us out.
Now, finally, having seen, tasted and discussed these very different components with the expert behind creating them, we were able to taste their ultimate expression as they were meant to be. The final creation was something that was greater than the sum of its parts, and my biggest takeaway from it all was just how magical it was that hand-rolled cigars with any sort of consistency can be produced from all the vagaries on offer through the natural phenomenon of black tobacco.
This sort of thing is the future of cigar study and exploration from a consumer and retailer perspective. Sautter will be at the forefront of more exciting projects like this.