CONTACT US

 

3423-9600

info@wine-luxe.com

 

BE OUR FRIEND

STAY CONNECTED

  • Facebook Clean
  • White Instagram Icon
  • YouTube - White Circle

THE ART OF CIGAR & PAIRING

醇煙美酒的配搭藝術

Suck in a mouthful of mellowness, savor cocoa, toffee, honey and peach. Wonder what whisky gives such rich and delicate tastes? It is actually whisky's best partner - cigar.

Cigars have always been regarded as upper class hobby. Louis Lee, who has smoked cigar for more than 20 years also agreed. He developed the hobby since the 1980s, when he was working finance in Central office. Many of his clients loved to enjoy a cigar after a meal ( there wasn't indoor smoking ban yet, he pointed out, it was common to smoke cigar in fine dining restaurant. ). "Cigars are very different from cigarettes. You would only want a cigar when you feel relaxed or have something to celebrate. In contrast, you smoke cigarettes are upset or on a deadline. You never smoke a cigar when you feel down." He reckons that although there are tar and nicotine in cigar as well, but at a lower intensity. Cigar is not a matter of addiction, but more of part of the culinary culture.

The taste for cigars of the eighties was quite different from now, although Hong Kong people has always preferred Cuban products, "Davidoff was a clear favourite at that time, which was then still produced in Cuba. Montecristo and Partagas were popular as well. But did you notice Cohiba wasn't on the list? It was too new as it only began to produce in the eighties." According to Louis, film director Johnnie To is also a cigar lover, cigar appears often in his movies. For example, in "Life Without Principle", when Lau Ching-wan was still a thug, he envied Keung Ho-Man when he smoked cigars; when he got an accidental fortune, the first thing he did was to go to a cigar shop, wanting in particular that he wants the one "with a red ring". "That was Partagas," Louis said.

It is only natural to dwell ourselves into matching cigar with food and beverage. The robust  taste of Cigars pairs perfectly with spirits. While whisky is popular recently, people used to have more brandy. "That was the era of cognac. But the mouthfeel of Cognac is actually too soft for cigar, those who knows their brandy go for Armagnac." To decide for the best match, taste of the cigar should come first," Cuban cigar generally tastes robust with rich flavor with sweet spices, like cocoa and toffee. To pair with the rich flavor, the whisky has to be stronger. Those Isle Scotch, for example those from Islay, with deep smoky aroma, the salty taste of the sea, and high minerality, would be a good match. Dominican cigar also popular in Hong Kong. The taste is lighter, with a nutty taste and the aroma of Vanilla, and it is famous for the craftsmanship. It is best pair with the Speyside and Highland Scotch, which are more elegant in style. "Louis explained.

Whiskey is very popular, but the cigar is a minority hobby. If you are a beginner in cigar, what should you pay attention too? "First, smoking cigar is different from cigarettes - more like wine tasting in fact. When you take a cigar, let the smoke stay in the mouth and taste it, do not to inhale into the lungs. If you took too much smoke into the lungs, you may get ‘drunk’. Makes you feel uneasy, nausea, and hypoglycemia, etc., discomfort may last for several hours. In addition, one may start with a smaller size cigar, as they are more affordable and requires less time to finish, about half an hour. Although smaller cigars are simpler and lighter, it is easier to understand for the beginners.

Soft and sweet, with chocolate, caramel, citrus and other aromas, the elegant Singleton 12 pairs well with cigars, but it is also good for mixing cocktails. With Singleton 12, Pullman Hotel Skye Bar's team mixes this rich and sweet Done & Dusted.

With 50ml Singleton 12, 5 ml of Mancino Chinato Vermouth, 10 ml of coffee flavored chocolate and 3 ml of Angostura bitter, plus smoke that had treated dried orange peels, a here come a nice and sweet cocktail. The cocoa powder sprayed on the outside of the glass not only makes it looks more fancy, but also dissolves on the lips when drinking, making the sweetness of Singleton 12 more prominent.

啜一口香醇,在嘴裡細嚼,嚐出可可、拖肥、蜜糖,以至桃子香。是哪款威士忌這樣豐富細緻?今次說的卻是威士忌最佳搭檔——雪茄。

 

雪茄一向被視為高檔玩意,有二十多年雪茄齡的Louis Lee也很同意。他於八十年代接觸雪茄,因為當時於中環工作,從事金融業,不少客戶也喜愛飯後嗒返支(他特別指出由於當時未有室內禁煙,在高級餐廳裡抽雪茄是很理所當然的事)。「抽雪茄跟抽煙很不一樣。抽雪茄一定是心情輕鬆,或有甚麼事要慶祝的,而抽煙卻可能因感到心煩,或有工作要趕。有事煩是一定不會抽雪茄的。」他認為雪茄雖然同樣有焦油和尼古丁,不過份量較少,抽雪茄並非出於煙癮,更接近是飲食文化。

八十年代的口味與現在不太一樣,雖然香港人始終較偏好古巴,「當年最多人抽一定是Davidoff,當時仍是古巴出品,另外Montecristo 和Partagas也很熱門。但你發現沒有Cohiba 嗎?因為Cohiba在八十年代才開始生產,當時還太新。」Louis笑指名導演杜琪峰也愛抽雪茄,在他的電影裡常雪茄出現,例如在《奪命金》裡,劉青雲還是個倒楣小混混時看著姜浩文抽雪茄,到他自己意外發財後,就去買雪茄,指明要「紅圈那款」,「那就是Partagas了」Louis說。

抽雪茄既然是飲食文化,當然著重味道配搭。雪茄濃濃的口感與酒最相配,近年最流行就是配搭威士忌,但原來八十年代,主力配的卻是白蘭地,「那是干邑的年代,不過干邑口感略嫌太柔,最講究的人會配口味更烈的雅馬邑。」而說到如何配威士忌,首先要考慮的就是雪茄的味道,「古巴雪茄味道較濃,香味豐富,會食到甜點用香料的味道,有點像可可和拖肥。因為味道濃郁,需要以較濃味的威士忌去配搭,來自蘇格蘭島嶼的威士忌例如Islay的,煙燻味濃、帶海水鹹味、礦物感覺重的那種。多明尼加煙也受歡迎。這裡的出品味道較輕,但出名捲功好,味道富果仁香,同時帶淡淡雲尼拿香,最適合配來自蘇格蘭Speyside和highland,味道較優雅的威士忌。」Louis解釋說。

 

威士忌很受歡迎,但雪茄就沒有那麼普及。若初接觸雪茄,有甚麼要注意?「首先,抽雪茄不同抽煙,更像品酒,抽一口後,要將煙留在口腔裡,用味覺去感受,卻不會吸入肺部。若吸太多煙入肺,或會出現煙醉,出現面色發青,作嘔,和低血糖反應等,不適可能會持續數小時。另外,應先抽細支的,一來消費較低,二來吸食時間較短,約大半小時就能抽完一支。細煙雖然味道較簡單,也較淡,但對初接觸者來說反而更易理解。」

味道柔和,富巧克力、焦糖、柑橘等香氣,甜味而優雅的Singleton 12當然適合配雪茄,同時也很適合用作沖調雞尾酒之用。Pullman Hotel Skye Bar的團隊就以Singleton 12 ,調配成濃郁甜美的Done & Dusted。

 

材料用上50毫升的Singleton 12、5毫升mancino chinato 苦艾酒、10毫升咖啡味巧克力力嬌酒和3毫升苦精,加上燻過乾橙皮的煙,就成為一杯甜美雞尾酒。酒杯外圍噴灑的可可粉不單令視覺效果更佳,喝酒時更會溶在嘴唇,令Singleton 12的甜美感更突出。