The Whisky Exchange & James J. Fox presents:

Two cigars, two cognacs, two armagnac, cheeses from Paxton and Whitfield…We made the most of this year’s Leap Day by working with The Whisky Exchange and TWE Events to present a marvellous cognac and cigar pairings ahead of the Cognac Show taking place Friday 23rd March and Saturday 24th March.

The spirit choices for the pairings were selected by The Whisky Exchange’s Master of Wine, Head Buyer and cigar lover, Dawn Davies MW. Our event, despite being a wonderful experience of learning and cigar pairing, was just a modest taste compared to the fantastic houses and brand ambassadors who will be showcasing their fine spirits at the show.

There are subtle nuances in styles and flavours that can make a world of difference in a pairing. So, we switched the Quai D’Orsay No.54 for the Quai D’Orsay No.50 and Romeo y Julieta Mille Fleur to pair with Dawn’s selection of cognacs and armagnacs on the evening.

The Whisky Exchange Cognac Show

If you're a fan of more elegant styles there's a brandy for you, if you're a fan of big, robust styles there's a brandy for you, and if you're just curious about things that are delicious, then The Whisky Exchange have a whole show for you – specifically for cognac this time, but also whisky, champagne and rum at different times in the year. ⁠⁠

The Whisky Exchange’s Cognac Show is the world’s largest tasting event dedicated to Cognac, Armagnac and Calvados bringing together more than 35 producers to share more than 200 wonderful spirits. It’s more than just tasting; it is an education in the wonderful spirits of France. Any event with Dawn isn’t to be missed, but with the ability to talk to major industry ambassadors at the show, it makes for a wonderful experience.

Find more information on TWE and Cognac Show here

Pairing Cigars and Cognac

Brilliant and diverse spirits, Cognac and Armagnac offers so many different styles and flavours to discover and some really do pair excellently with a fine hand-rolled cigar.

From our knowledge of pairings and understanding of cigars, we are confident in saying cognac is one of the two most popular spirits to pair with cigars - certainly that is the case in the UK, and for me personally it’s my favourite to enjoy with a cigar. We’ve enjoyed many evenings with cognac, especially for our Churchill’s Birthday Events every November.  For 2023 we paired with Tesseron Cognac, who will also be at the Cognac Show. Should you see Arnaud Dean, Sales Director for Europe and Africa at Tesseron, ask if he has any Lot No.29 as it is an amazing cognac. He may not, but we highly recommend Tesseron Cognac, especially their Classique Collection.

The French Connection

Why did we go with the Romeo y Julieta Mille Fleur and Quai D’Orsay No.50? Well, it is more than just the French associations in the cigar names, they both have a flavour profile which coincidently works great with the French spirits of Cognac and Armagnac. The Mille Fleur, which translates from French as “thousand flowers”, is aptly named as the cigar is one of the most flavourful Romeo y Julita’s in their current portfolio. Despite not having a Mille Fleur since filming our YouTube review of the cigar with our resident Master of Habanos Nic Barker, the impression the cigar left from that day was fantastic. Bursting with floral-like notes and a degree of sweetness, it would be a greatly complimented by a bold and flavourful Armagnac.

The No.50 speaks for itself as it is a very much a cult classic like the El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme. Perfect for anytime of the day because it is a mild-to-medium bodied cigar. A great choice from a morning coffee to an evening cognac, so it’s for that reason we’ve selected it for the evening. It’s significance to France – it’s a street that runs along the River Seine in Paris in the 7th Arrondissement where you would find France’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Historically, the brand was created to provide a flavour profile that resonates with French cigar enthusiasts.

The Cognac

Through the Grapevine Jean Filloux Lot 92

Cognac can be among the longest lived of any spirits, and those from the premier Grande Champagne region in particular can take long decades to really hit their stride. This Cognac, bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange, brings together notes of dried fruit, spice and a beguiling citrus brightness.

Frapin 1993

Hailing from the same Grande Champagne cru, this TWE exclusive single cask single vintage Cognac from Frapin still has a startling freshness that tempers the intense notes of dried fruit and cigar box.

The Armagnac

Laballe Millieseme

One of Armagnac’s leading lights, Laballe is a champion for this spirit. Sometimes thought of as the rougher country cousin to Cognac, Armagnac has its own rich history and its own place in the exceptional gastronomic culture of France. ⁠

Version Francaise – Domaine d’Esperance Petit Lot - 17 Year Old

An indie bottling of Armagnac, this is a full on, rich and intense spirit that has an evident flavour of dried fruit and nut on the pallate with layers of savoury notes for depth.

The Cigars:

Romeo y Julieta Mille Fleur

floral, cedar, berries, leather

Floral-like notes feature prominently with a hint of sweetness resembling ripe berries providing an undertone to the flavour. A small hint of leather comes later on down the cigar, as it intensifies from its cedar base flavour.

Quai D’Orsay No.50

nutmeg, ginger, cashew, floral

The Quai D’Orsay No.50 is a cigar which everybody will find as a very pleasant smoke. Mild-to-medium bodied, it is great as a morning cigar, lunch or as for an aperitif. The flavour is quite unique as we pick up notes of nutmeg and ginger from the first third, while remaining smooth with a cashew-type creaminess to the smoke. Despite being a petit robusto, the evolution of flavours are there, but come at you quite quickly. Floral notes and hints of vanilla come further into the cigar.