Gautier XO Pinar Del Rio Cigar Blend 41.2%

Nose: A big intense red grape bomb. And yet it doesn’t come off like a child’s treat but somehow carries a confident maturity. Honey fried figs with a dash of port. And a sprig of rosemary. What a concentrated opening.

Palate: From the nose I fear a jolly rancher. But it is pure elegance. Dried apricots and soft cherries. Dates of the drier persuasion. Almonds, served with a very mild young cheese and a dab of spiced compote. The gentle blanket of oak spices. And on the tip of the finish, a lick of garden herbs ending on the ghost of mint.

Rating: 7 / 10 – I found this sample in a mini market next to Smirnoff and Jack Daniels, and grabbed it for the fun packaging. Low expectations to put it mildly. I rarely give cigar blends much credence, but to be straight up… I would easily pair this with pipe tobacco. I typically veer towards the more neurotic, but even I can doff my cap for an artful blend. Chapeaux. And I went onto LMDW and bought a full bottle right away and opened it the day it landed. Can’t wait to pour this for friends.