I have a friend who writes books. They’re humorous collections of alternate uses for everyday products, like using powdered ice tea mix to take away your sunburn, or polishing your furniture with pantyhose. Or sticking a butter knife in your ear to kill the earworm caused by “Love Will Keep Us Together” that was playing in the elevator. He’s been on television getting famous talk show hosts to shave with peanut butter and wash their hair with whipped cream. I like being entertained with practical things and I love when opposites pull together to make something new.
And sometimes, I like a smack in the face. So I had all that in my mind when I lit up this Kentucky Fire Cured Hogs Tooth cigar from Drew Estate. Jonathan Drew is a fun guy and his company turns out so many of my favorites, but this little fella, this Hogs Tooth, was totally unexpected. As soon as I pulled this sleek corona out of the wrapper, the room lit up with rich, hickory notes of smoked pemmican, black pepper, teriyaki sauce and the last embers of a beach bonfire: holy smoke!
I haven’t even sniffed the foot and my nose is twitching. The Mexican San Andreas wrapper has this handsome textured feel, like one of those expensive, high fiber sheets of paper you used to hand in a resume on, and it contains the beautiful 6 x 46 construction, like a boa constrictor that stiffens up before it uncoils on you. And the burn: beautiful balance of hickory smoke, top soil, and the old furniture that your grand dad passed on to you from his handbuilt cottage by the lake. And all through, from the first puff through the last third: teriyaki beef jerky. Not the 7-11 crap, but real stuff from the butcher by the side of the road heading up to the Adirondacks. This has to be the most aptly named smoke I’ve had in years.
Well, I figure if I’m going to get smacked around, there are a few things I think your Uncle can pair with this, like a rug burn or a knee scrape from that time I thought I could still rollerblade. But sometimes when you think “fight fire with fire” you end up with something quite different. So when I pulled the High West Double Rye from the shelf to go mano a mano with the Hog Tooth, I pretty much expected a fist fight at the end of the night at Johnny White’s bar on St. Peter Street. But whoa, cowboy, the Double Rye was like the Balm of Gilead, a square jawed circuit preacher who sings the Lord’s praises while cuffing you to the horse rail so you’ll calm your ass down.
High West was started up by David Perkins, who got tired of being an ace chemical engineer and wanted to make whiskey in a state that hates whiskey: Utah. Because he didn’t have enough challenges in life. And make whiskey he does, but while his distillery juice was in the warehouse getting older and wiser, he had the brilliant idea of buying some top quality, aged rye from an existing distillery in Indiana and blending it to suit himself and a marketplace thirsty for America’s original hooch. And his Double Rye is an exceptional example of the talent it takes to bring opposites together: two straight ryes of unequal age to form a singular and unique blend.
First a 2 year old rye that brings the fire of youth, the bright zestiness of big spices and bold temperament of a yearling ready to run headlong out of the pasture. With that, he adds the elegant, rich and finely tempered 16 year old rye, full of caramel notes, butterscotch and saddle leather. The resulting Double Rye is a concoction of unyielding mouthfeel, with balanced and nuanced flavors of dark cherry and warm spices.
Together, the Hogs Tooth gets filed down a bit, its bite becomes a chew, a nibble from your family’s pooch in front of the TV. The Double Rye rounds out in the mouth and its aromatic flavors meet the smoke mid-palate, creating a vast landscape in my mouth that Remington himself would have been proud of, full of the power of nature and softened by the eye of the artist, like powdered ice tea taking away the sunburn.