For enhanced enjoyment of Cigar Blend batches #99-111, Master Blender Nancy Fraley recommends opening the bottle and taking a small pour off the neck in order to allow the bottle to aerate for an hour or more to fully appreciate the intensity and complexity of the dram.
Cigar Blend Batch #99: “Grape Nuts”
This Cigar Blend batch displays flavors of grapes and nuts in spades! The nose exhibits aromas of orange Muscat wine with delicate orange blossom honey, apricots, peaches in heavy syrup, and gentle baking spices. These notes transfer to the palate, where more intense flavors of sweet confection, dried fruit, and nutty notes such as marzipan, Italian Panforte, and Florentine biscuits make themselves known. The finish is velvety, with waves of ripe grapes, nectarine, crème brulee, and pralines continuing to ripple across the palate. For Cigar Blend fans who enjoy fruit and nut aromas, this dram is your ticket to paradise!
Cigar Blend Batch #100: “The Centennial”
While sharing some of the same type of grape and other fruit notes with its sister batch #99, Cigar Blend batch #100 has taken on more barrel spice notes from its Armagnac finishing cask. Bold aromas of honey spice cake, fresh vanilla beans, and sticky toffee pudding fill the nasal cavities. The palate promises notes of white raisins, cherry-apricot compote, and pumpkin bread with allspice cream cheese frosting. The finish is long, with intermingling of brown baking spices, vanilla custard, salted caramel pudding, and light barrel char. Truly a Cigar Blend for the ages!
Cigar Blend Batch #101: “Screaming Eagles”
In honor of the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division, known as the “Screaming Eagles,” who gained renown for its role in the Battle of Normandy in WWII, Cigar Blend batch #101 is as potent and bold as its namesake. This batch also just happens to have a fair amount of aromatic orchard fruit that luckily coincides with the flavors that are also found in the Normandy region’s famous apple brandy, Calvados. The nose exhibits vivid notes of warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks, poached pears in red wine sauce, with hints of cigar box. These notes carry through to the palate, where additional flavors of apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream, and cinnamon sheet cake with cider frosting can be found. We’re not sure how or why this batch developed so many apple notes, but we’re pleased with the results!
Cigar Blend Batch #102: “The Sweet One III”
Cigar Blend batch #102, aka “The Sweet One III,” harkens back to its two predecessors, the much-beloved original “Sweet One” batch #27, and batch #79, “The Sweet One II.” It shares notes of plum pudding soaked in brandy sauce, rum raisin ice cream, sweet corn notes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes with whole milk, and cinnamon rolls with orange glaze topping. This batch is arguably a little closer to batch #27, as it has more rye and barrel spices than batch #79. Yet unlike either of those two batches, it has the citrus and orchard fruit qualities that it shares with the other six batches from this “coupe mere,” or mother blend. The caramelized wood sugars which batch #102 gained from its Armagnac cask cling to the mouth cavity, giving it a thick, maple syrup mouthfeel with a warm cinnamon finish. While the rye spices keep this batch from being cloyingly sweet, it should still pair well with a drier, spicier cigar that needs a little extra sweetness.
Cigar Blend Batch #103: “L’artagnan”
Cigar Blend batch #103, aka “L’Artagnan,” shares several similarities with batch #34, known as “L’Artagnan vs. The Sante Fe Six-Shooter.” While its predecessor batch exhibited notes of both Armagnac and American Old West “desert” aromas, this batch only has the Armagnac notes in common. Like batch #34, it is round and soft on the nose, with intense aromatic notes from ancient, damp Armagnac chais (French brandy aging cellars), nutty “rancio” notes of toasted hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, prunes in Armagnac syrup, dried apricots, and Mission fig jam. The palate offers additional notes of creamy dulce de leche, lime blossoms, and hints of muddled mint from the rye spice.
Cigar Blend Batch #104: “Turkish Delight”
This batch is slightly lower in proof than the other six batches hailing from the same “coupe mere,” or mother blend, but it is no slouch. Much like the Turkish confection, this batch displays heady notes of chopped dates, figs, pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnuts bound together by exotic bergamot orange, rosewater, lemon blossoms, and dried coconut. The palate is round and soft, with flavors of lemon cake with white icing, and baklava with buttery filo dough drizzled with orange blossom honey. While it isn’t a usual Cigar Blend profile, it is guaranteed to take the connoisseur on an exotic journey!
Cigar Blend Batch #105: “A Taste of Honey”
Cigar Batch #105 is named “A Taste of Honey,” to play on the song’s lyrics, and it tastes much sweeter than wine! Orange blossom honey is the predominant note in this batch, although it is tempered with a fair amount of rye to keep the flavors in balance. The nose finds aromas of orange blossom honey, carrot cake with cream cheese icing, and sweet iced tea with a lemon wedge. The honey notes on the palate are more towards Tupelo honey, with its rich buttery and cinnamon qualities, plus some nutty flavors of Spanish Turrón nougat with almonds and pistachios. The finish introduces even more warming rye notes and brown baking spices, leading to a long, luxurious experience.
Cigar Blend Batch #106: “Spice Rack”
For Cigar Blend fans who tend to favor the spicier batches, this one’s for you! “Spice Rack,” exhibits flavors of a European style Pumpernickel rye, with its characteristic intense, nutty qualities, citrusy Earl Grey tea, plus a cornucopia of brown baking spices such as allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger, nutmeg, and black pepper. The spices follow over to the palate, although they are tempered with notes of dark molasses, Dr. Pepper cola, oatmeal raisin cookies, and cream soda. The finish is semi-dry, with long waves of rye spice.
Cigar Blend Batch #107: “The Alhambra”
“The Alhambra,” harkens back to the Moorish cuisine that left an indelible imprint upon southern Spain. This batch boasts intriguing notes of Seville orange marmalade, Spanish Turrón nougats, Moroccan tea with mint, marzipan, and a hint of cinnamon. The palate offers up a smorgasbord of other delights, with churros y chocolate, flan with caramel sauce, creamy rice pudding scented with orange blossom water, and Almendrados, or Spanish almond cookies. An intriguing dram that whisks one away to a different time and place!
Cigar Blend Batch #108: “The Great Pumpkin”
This batch fits the bill as the quintessential autumnal Cigar Blend, with warming notes of pumpkin pie, aromatic pipe tobacco, and plum pudding chocked full of raisins, black currants, and candied orange peels. The palate completes the autumn flavors, with tongue tingling notes of brown sugar cookies sprinkled with cinnamon, canned peaches in heavy syrup, and apple strudel with pecan ice cream. The finish is long, with lingering notes of caramel chews, pumpkin cheesecake, and toasted walnuts. The perfect Cigar Blend to warm the bones on a chilly fall evening!
Cigar Blend Batch #109: “The Black Sheep”
While Cigar Blend batch #109 shares some of the same citrus, sweet, and nutty notes with its 5 sister batches that come from the same “coupe mere,” or mother blend, it is very much the rebel among the bunch. On the nose, this batch lends aromas of more traditional notes of sweet sultanas, raisins, crème brulee, and candied tangerine peels, but then dramatically shifts gears to aromas of pine nut brittle with rosemary and sea salt. A whole host of glacé fruit such as citron, cherries, overripe pineapple, and ginger root kiss the palate, along with macaroons topped with shaved coconut. Then more of the savory and herbal notes, such as lemon-thyme pound cake and honeydew melon-basil granitas make a bold presence. This batch is for the independent-minded and mavericks out there!
Cigar Blend Batch #110: “The Cigar Blend Plunge”
For any Cigar Blend fans who enjoy a little 1970’s to ‘90’s pop culture nostalgia with the “Take the Nestea Plunge” commercial, this one’s for you! The nose offers aromas of Southern brewed sweetened iced tea with a hint of lemon, Moroccan mint tea with a sugar cube, grilled peaches and figs, crème brulee, and cantaloupe sorbet. The palate is surprisingly refreshing, just like iced tea, with further notes of white raisins, pecan praline fudge, dark brown sugar, dried apricots, and a rather interesting finish of a rye mint julep with muddled mint.
Cigar Blend Batch #111:“La Vieux Chais”
“La Vieux Chais,” or “old cellar,” is reminiscent of the heady angels sharing notes that one finds in an old Armagnac “chais,” or cellar, where the barrels gently slumber. This batch has taken on a lot of notes from its Armagnac cask, such as Pruneaux d’Agen (wild prunes in Armagnac syrup), ripe mango, dried apricot, lime blossoms, brioche bread, and pot de crème au chocolat. What the nose promises, the palate offers, with further notes of the much-prized old brandy quality of “rancio” (which come from the oxidized esters of fatty acids, giving notes of toasted almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts), and a hint of truffle butter. For Cigar Blend fans who like just a little more Armagnac influence to show through, this one’s for you.
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