Whilst each spirit category has an interesting history, the history of gin is probably the darkest and most morbid. Gin, with its core ingredients being juniper and alcohol, can trace its roots back to the Dutch drink genever. The story goes that English soldiers stationed in continental Europe during the 80 Years War liked the juniper flavoured Dutch alcoholic elixir so much that they brought it back to England and they anglicised its name to “gin”. In the late 1600’s William III imposed tariffs and reduced taxes on local spirit production, resulting in a strange situation where pints of gin were cheaper than pints of ale and beer. And so started one of the craziest booze fueled stages in history, aptly called the “gin craze”. Continue reading “Edinburgh Gin Distillery”→
The wineries in Victoria’s Yarra Yalley are known for making some of Australia’s best wine, but nestled somewhere near its picturesque vineyards is the Four Pillars gin distillery. Four Pillars was founded in 2013 by Stu, Matt and Cam, who the distillery describes as “three bald pillars”. While it was only established in 2013, Four Pillars gin has already captured the hearts and taste buds of many in Melbourne.
Four Pillars main product is its Rare Dry Gin. It also makes a Spiced Negroni Gin, a Barrel Aged Gin and an overproof Navy Strength Gin. But wait, there’s more. Some other releases by Four Pillars include its Modern Australian Gin, Bloody Shiraz Gin, Australian Christmas Gin and Cousin Vera’s Gin.
My interest in making a good martini was sparked in what may be the most unlikely of places. It was not in some swanky cocktail bar in Melbourne or London. It was in the tropical heat of far north Queensland, Australia.
I was at the Nautilus bar in Port Douglas on a scorching December evening. The menu listed a selection of cocktails and martinis. A martini made with The Botanist gin caught my interest, primarily because this gin is made by the Scottish single malt producer Bruichladdich on the isle of Islay (with a still nicknamed “ugly Betty”, so I’m told). As soon as that expertly made icy cold martini hit my lips, I forgot about the tropical heat as my attention turned to the fascinating world of the martini.
The Nub 464 Cameroon Torpedo Cigar is handmade using a Nicaraguan binder and filler, and, a wrapper from Cameroon. The tobacco that is grown in Cameroon, and subsequently used as cigar wrappers, is the Sumatran black tobacco plant which was introduced into the African nation after World War II.
The idea behind the Nub cigar, and the reason it is so short at 4 inches, is because it is designed to give a smoker the “sweet spot” taste of a cigar from the first puff, a point which typically occurs an inch of so into a full sized cigar. With its fairly wide ring gauge the cigar delivers a cool smoke with lots of complex flavour, rather than the hot draw that is commonly experienced as some cigars near their end. Be sure to cut this cigar conservatively and not shave too much off at first, and adjust as needed. It smokes just as long as most regular sized cigars, despite its size.
After experiencing 42°C heat in Melbourne, the city went cold – people had exchanged their shorts and thongs (what we call flip flops, sorry to erase any erotic images from any American minds) for jackets and jeans. With my belly full of ribs from TGI Friday’s and the weather being suitably cold for a warming cigar, I had an urge to toast a cigar. I plucked a Nub cigar from my humidor, got the dog on a lead, and off I went to enjoy a beautiful Melbourne night. So there I was walking along Melbourne’s SouthBank puffing away my Nub cigar, walking a tiny Chihuahua and taking meticulous tasting notes on my smart phone.
With the first few puffs, very little harshness was noticeable. It was almost as though I was smoking a block of 99% Lindt dark chocolate – cocoa, buttery cereal notes and the darkest espresso coffee hit my palate. Each draw produced a faint flicker of bonfire, which quickly faded into that 99% cocoa dark chocolate flavour profile which lingered on the palate for a few minutes. The cocoa was entangled with buttered burnt toast, and with each draw the cigar’s flavour profile became more and more interesting with an increasingly grassy and earthy theme. The taste of fresh coriander stalks bundled with bunched parley and mild spice soon became interlaced with the cocoa, then came poppy seeds in bursts together with alfalfa, snow pea sprouts and seeds, and, the distant taste of bitter orange with dried citrus peel. The finish also became more complex, and together with the cocoa were notes of twig, mild campfire and the curious aftertaste of a whipped cream éclair with the flavour but not sweetness of a banana lolly/candy. Gin came to mind as I reached the end of the cigar, with its botanicals.
The Nub was a very enjoyable cigar with prominent notes of cocoa, coffee, wood, mild earthy herbs, spice and a soft creaminess. Delicious.
Having my second Nub cigar, the flavours were very consistent as the first though I could detect more fennel at first, then earthy espresso, bark, nutmeg and bay-leaf, rosemary, charcoal, sweet paprika, white ash, pencil shavings and sooty overtones. Overall it was enjoyable, elegant and very complex. The bite of rocket leaf and a somewhat meaty/ savoury flavour also became more noticeable. This is a seriously complex cigar.
The Nub would pair nicely with a variety of spirits, whether peated whisky or gin. It seems like a versatile cigar with a flavour profile that would accentuate a number of drinks, including a coffee with a nip of cream liqueur, a Navy style rum rich in coffee and brown sugar notes, any number of peated whiskies that do not have overbearing maritime notes or a good quality sipping gin, whether William McHenry & Sons London Dry Gin, Bulldog Gin, Hendrick’s or if you’re game, a gin martini with an olive or lime twist. My pick of the lot for this cigar would be to pair it with a gin martini, or a peated malt.
Buy it, if you want to try the delights of a Cameroon wrapper and you enjoy a cigar that offers big chocolate and coffee notes with undertones of wood and a complex tapestry of earthiness. It is a cigar rich in flavour, but easy to smoke.