Wines for low n slow BBQ:

First there’s the standard – although breakable to a degree – pairing guidelines:

1) Pair to the sauce, not the meat.

2) Red Meat = Red Wine. 

3) White Meat = White Wine

4) Fish = White Wine

Rules to be broken for red meat/ red wine: 

If the meat is well done, without a sauce, an oaked Chardonnay is actually better. But you have to know it’s been done in oak. 

If the Chardonnay has been done in stainless or concrete, it’ll be too “fresh” for red meat.
You want an “earthier” white wine for well done, lightly seasoned red meat. 

Beef Brisket: 

Some people say Cabernet Sauvignon, but that wine has tannins looking to tame uncoagulated blood – something brisket doesn’t have.

I’d rather see a Merlot or a red Zinfandel (USA) aka Primitivo (Italy)


Sauce over ribs is typically “tangy” so a Cabernet Franc would work.
But I also like the idea of a Gerwurztraminer which goes well with spicy dishes. 

Pulled Pork:

Again, think about the sauce. If there’s no sauce, go with a Pinot Noir.

If there’s a sauce – maybe a Riesling. Its residual sweetness goes well with the vinegar in the sauce. 

Rules to be broken for White Meat = White Wine.
Try a Beaujolais with chicken. Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape and it’s delightfully refreshing.

I like Sauvignon Blanc with any kind of chicken. But I’m a bit fussy about which Sauvignon Blanc. 
Cloudy Bay (New Zealand) is totally worth the few extra dollars, as is the Babich (New Zealand)

Rules to be broken for Fish = White Wine: If it’s Salmon – the wine should be Pinot Noir. It’s a classic pairing.
If it’s a firm-fleshed fish with an earthy sauce, go with an oaked Chardonnay.

Pairing wine with BBQ is the perfect opportunity to get friends involved. If you’re the pit-master, have your guests bring a variety of assigned wine, along with tasting cups. Then have them decide which wine they like best with which BBQ.

World Whisky Day falls on the 3rd Saturday of May.
2021: May 15. I was interviewed by the local outlet of Canada’s national broadcasting system – CBC – about today’s big day in the whisky-world. 

Here’s the Q & A from that interview.

What is Whisky? 
Whisky is a distillate that starts with water, then some type of grain – typically barley, wheat, corn or rye … or a combination of grains.

Scotland has one of the most exacting definitions of whisky and most of the other producing regions follow suit with a few variations.
To be called whisky it comes to basically this:
1) the liquid must be either a malted barley
2) it must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. 

3) any age statement on the label must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product. This is known as a guaranteed age statement.
If there is no “age statement”, the whisky is known as N.A.S. – “no-age statement)
4) whisky must be at a minimum alcohol level of 40%abv (alcohol by volume)

5) it can’t be called Scotch unless it’s made in Scotland. 

Here’s a lengthier description courtesy of
“Scotch whisky” means a whisky produced in Scotland:

(a) that has been distilled at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added) all of which have been:

  • processed at that distillery into a mash;
  • converted at that distillery into a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems; and
  • fermented at that distillery only by the addition of yeast;

(b) that has been distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8 per cent so that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production;

(c) that has been matured only in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres;

(d) that has been matured only in Scotland;

(e) that has been matured for a period of not less than three years;

(f) that has been matured only in an excise warehouse or a permitted place;

(g) that retains the colour, aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production and maturation;

(h) to which no substance has been added, or to which no substance has been added except:

  • water;
  • plain caramel colouring; or
  • water and plain caramel colouring; and

(i) that has a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 40%.

Countries where Whisky is produced:
The top regional made whisky styles are:
Scotch Whisky.
Canadian Whisky.
Irish Whiskey. 

USA – Bourbon & Tennessee Whiskey (ie: Jack Daniels)

Rest of the world:

Australia – modern distilleries have been around since 1992, the most prominent being on the island of Tasmania, notably the award winning Sullivan’s Cove whisky.

India – the amount of whisky that is produced in India is staggering. They sell over 120 million cases and I can’t even pronounce the number of million litres of whisky India produces.
Recommended: Amrut Indian Single Malt whisky – it’s very good and has won numerous global awards

Taiwan – Kavalan

Germany – has about 25 distilleries making various styles: Single Malts. Blends. Bourbon-styles.

Finland – in 2018, Finland produced 1.9 million litres of whisky

Canada – Canadian Whisky, while it has some 100% pure rye-grain products, most Canadian Whiskies are made from corn or wheat or a blend of corn, wheat, barley & rye.

Canada produces over 21 million cases of whisky every year and sends vast amounts to the USA for bottling under multitude of brand names.

Japan – would be about the 4th largest whisky producer in the world, close to 100 million litres per year. 

Ireland – started gaining international traction in the past few years. Production is at about 10 million litres/ year but is gaining share due to the its generally light taste that is attributed to its triple distillation.

USA – Bourbon. Produces at least 480 million litres of whisky each year, with products coming from Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey & Maker’s Mark, just to name a few. 

On May 4, 1964 the U.S. Congress recognized that Bourbon was unique to its country & protects the product with the following criteria:
– It must be made of a grain mixture (mash) that is at least 51% corn.

– Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof which is the equivalent of 80% abv (alcohol by volume).

– Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. The barrels can be used only once.

– Newly distilled Bourbon can’t go into the barrel at higher than 125 proof – the equivalent of 62.5% alcohol by volume.

If the spirit meets the above requirements & has been aged for a minimum of two years, it may – but isn’t required to – be called Straight Bourbon.

– Bourbon aged for a period less than four years must be labeled with the duration of its aging.

– If an age is stated on the label, it must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle.

– To be called “Bourbon” it must be made in the USA.
(source: Bourbon Buzz.)

Jack Daniels is also one of the most recognizable names for brown spirits made in America – but it’s referred to – not as Bourbon – but rather Tennessee Whiskey, mostly due to its charcoal filtration process. 

Scotland – produces about 700 million litres of whisky each year, most of it coming from the Highland / Speysideregion. The other major Scotch-producing region in Scotland is Islay – the island known for the peat influence in its products. Peat is what gives Islay Scotch it’s smoky/ peat-y character.

How Old is Whisky?  When was it 1st created?

The 1st recorded evidence of whisky production was in 1494 Scotland, but there is reference that distillation started a couple of thousand years ago for perfumes in Mesopotamia

However, Irish Whiskey fans might tell you that their ancestors picked up the knowledge of distillation during travels to Arabia around 500-600 AD. It was used for ceremonies & medicinal purposes.
There is some discussion of a carved writing reference on a tanned reindeer skin dating back to pre-Christian times where a liquid was referred to “fire water”.
Either way, distillation & whisky have been around for centuries.

Where does whisky get its color?
Whisky is often referred to as a “Brown Spirit’, but in fact, whisky can go from almost a light lemon color to a dark brown color and an entire spectrum of shades in between.
Most whisky around the world is aged in bourbon barrels because the law for making Bourbon states that product must be aged in “new” American Oak barrels. 
When the liquid is poured from the barrel into the bottles, the Bourbon barrels are sold around the world for other whisky producers to use for aging their product. Most of the time the color from a bourbon barrel can be quite light to an amber color, depending on the char inside the staves.

A lot of people covet a darker color to whisky – enthusiastically proclaiming “look at that color” … believing the whisky has been either aged longer // or stored in barrels that had been used for the making of sherry. 

Ex-Sherry barrels impart not only color and a sweetness to the whisky that is prized in some circles. 
However, whisky color can be deceiving because the addition of caramel coloring known as E150A – the same caramel coloring agent that is used in cola’s, sauces, seasonings etc. – is an approved substance in the making of Scotch whisky.
While it’s a perfectly safe, neutral addition, there are some purists who believe they can taste it or sense it, but that’s limited to the individual.

Here’s how color labeling breaks down:
US – mandatory declaration of each artificial color.
EU European Union: Mandatory declaration by category name, color and the E number of the specific color.
Canada – it’s optional. The word “colour” is sufficient.

3 Whiskies that changed my life:
Glenfarclas. Speyside Single Malt Scotch. Always a great value, especially the 25yr old. 
George Grant is one of the hardest working & nicest people in the whisky business.
Glenfarclas was featured in The Gentlemen – a film that was totally fun to watch.

Johnnie Walker Green. This is a blend that’s made up of some amazing Scotch whiskies. It’s got Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore & Caol Ila and it can challenge many single malts for complexity, balance & pure enjoyment. 

Port Ellen 29year old 8th release. Port Ellen is a closed distillery but every so often there’s a release and in 2014 I was lucky enough to get a bottle.
I wish I’d bought a case because at that time the $350 price tag was a bargain. Now, you’d be lucky to get one for 10times that price. 
Port Ellen 29yr old 8th Release is just a very rare, almost perfect Scotch whisky.

Recommended Whisk(e)y reading: 

Whisky Island by Andrew Jefford. 

Originally titled Peat Smoke & Spirit – it is the definitive guide to Scotch whisky, particularly those expressions from Islay.

Whisky Island by Andrew Jefford

Canadian Whisky – The Portable Expert by Davin de Kergommeaux.
While this books focus is on Canadian Whisky, the content is really great for anyone who wants to learn about the whisky making process as well. 

A few years ago, I featured it on a cigar show I was doing from Atlanta, Georgia and, according to Davin, that day on-line sales of the book spiked – so it’s pretty clear there’s a lot of people who want to know more about Canadian whisky and this books delivers all the information you could ever want.

Canadian Whisky by Davin de Kergommeaux

Tasting Whiskey – by Lew Bryson.
The perfect book to have on your whisky wall now that we’re not able to go out to whisky tastings & classes. 
Lew’s book can tell you everything you need to know about the intricacies of appreciating whiskey.

2021 is the year the Nicaragua Cigar Festival – Puro Sabor – went virtual.
The incomparable Reinhard Pohorec – Cigar Journal Cigar Trophy “Ambassador” Laureate – has done phenomenal work incorporating this huge event into Light ’em Up World using an on-line format.

Monday, April 26, 2021, was the 4th instalment of the virtual Puro Sabor, focusing on “Blending & Tasting”.
Renowned cigar blenders – Willy Herrera of Drew Estate & Nicholas Perdomo III of Perdomo Cigars – tackled the big picture of “Blending & Tasting to Create Premium Cigars”.

Both blenders spoke at length about their love for Nicaragua tobacco, providing insights to the 4 main tobacco growing regions of that area: Esteli, Condega, Jalapa and Ometepe as well as the corresponding aroma, flavour & texture profiles each region produces in its tobacco.

As they work through their inventory of tobacco, Willy & Nicholas agree the main component to creating a premium cigar blend is patience.
They have to be experts regarding the various tobaccos & especially the leaves: Seco, Viso & Ligero, as well as their source – the farm from which they secure those tobaccos.

They painstakingly sort through all those various leaves, testing – by smoking – different blends in small-size format cigars.
Years of experience tells them how the combination of leaves will play out in the vitola they’re planning to create.

When they choose the leaves which will go into the cigar, they stay close to the rollers in the factory to make sure their recipe – whether it’s a whole leaf, half or quarter leaf of each specific tobacco – is followed to exact specifications by each of the rollers tasked with creating that cigar.

Ultimately the goal for their premium cigars is balance & complexity / taste & aroma.
They work to ensure the consumer has a memorable experience when they light that cigar.

As they spoke, I couldn’t help but wonder what happens in the final leg of that cigar journey … when it reaches the consumer.
I posed the question: “What can the consumer do to ensure all the effort put into creating your premium cigar doesn’t all fall apart if, for instance, if the cigar is purchased, then kept in a humidor that has a humidity level that isn’t optimum for that cigar? Should each consumer “dry-box” a cigar for a day before they smoke it?”

Their initial response was every cigar that comes from their respective factories is ready to be smoked right now. The quality control of both Drew Estate and Perdomo Cigars is such that they ensure their products are the best their customers can buy.

The 2nd part of Willy’s answer, however, was information that was new to me.
In all the years I’ve been a part of the cigar lifestyle, the most common response regarding optimum Relative Humidity is 69% RH.
Many cigar enthusiasts I’ve spoken with agree that’s the sweet spot for storing cigars. When we shop for a humidity pack, that’s the RH we buy.
But according to Willy Herrera, your Nicaragua cigars should be kept at 64% or 65% Relative Humidity.
Willy added that he always likes to smoke his cigars a little “drier”.

The entire session is filled with the kind of knowledge those who love cigars will enjoy learning from two of the most respected individuals in the cigar industry.

Puro Sabor Virtual Cigar Festival – Blending and Tasting.

“40 Something” #WhiskyTasting featured 6 different whisky expressions, all at the age of 40+ years.

Although I started working in bars/ lounges more than 40 years ago, I only started tasting/ appreciating whisky in earnest about 2 decades ago, so I’m a relatively late-starter.

But I learned a lot very quickly thanks to wonderful teachers along the way.
One of the recommendations I received about 5 years ago:
“Leave some whisky in the glass & return to it to nose it again. Observe how/ if it develops with time in the glass”.

The 40 Something expressions almost all told a different story on Monday morning compared to the Saturday night when they were poured.

The Cameronbridge (54.1% abv) and the Invergordon (50% abv) – both 40yo single grain spirit – developed more sweetness, the Port Ellen was amazing, while the others remained the same. All were delicious during the tasting.

1977 Canadian Club 40yr. 45% abv – Canada
1978 Cameronbridge 40yr. 54.1% abv Single Grain – Scotland
1974 Invergordon 40yr. 50% abv Single Grain – Scotland
1975 Benromach 45yr. 42.1% abv Heritage – Scotland
1972 Coleburn 47yr. 62.4% abv 125th Anniversary – Scotland
1979 Port Ellen 40yr. 49.6% abv – Scotland

Port Ellen 40yo (49.6 abv) developed in a very interesting way.
The night of the tasting (Sat. April 10/21), the dominant aroma was floral (violet) followed by chocolate.
This morning (Mon. Apr 12/21) when I nosed the remains in the glass, there was cedar (wood) hay, grass & cereal. Just a beautiful dram.

BTW, for those who attended the tasting, you may notice that I created my own tasting mat.
I have a very specific routine for whisky-flight set-up, preferring the arch sequence from left to right.
This provides space for note-taking when I hear other participants state descriptors.
My own notes always go into a Hilroy notebook.

In addition, I’m a big believer in having the date of the tasting immortalized on the tasting mat.
In terms of advertising & promotion, I like how the Whisky Drop logo serves as the perfect landing spot for each of the Glencairns.

 Award-Winning Speyside Distillery Offers Fans an Opportunity to Explore a Multitude of Layers of Flavor From a Variety of Eclectic Casks

Benriach Distillery, located in Scotland’s Speyside region, prides itself on having a distinctive flavor-forward portfolio of single malt Scotch whiskies. Following a successful launch and redesign in September 2020 of its core expressions, Benriach is proud to share three new ultra premium offerings available beginning in early February nationwide. 

Benriach Twenty One, Twenty Five and Thirty Year Old Single Malts bring an extremely rare opportunity to discover the exquisite integration of flavor resulting from decades of maturation. Matured in a diverse selection of highly distinctive oak casks and combined with complex layers of refined and mellow smoke, each aged expression has been meticulously composed for aromatic finesse, sumptuous richness, and deep mellow maturity.

The Twenty One
Four cask matured: Bourbon, Sherry, Virgin Oak and Red Wine

The Twenty One

Tasting Notes
Color: Honey gold
Nose: Berry fruit, orchard apple, wild honey and mountain oak spice
Palate: Candied grape, rich cocoa, smoked pine nut
Finish:  Caramelized pear and honey smoke
Smoke: Elegant 

The Twenty Five
Four cask matured: Bourbon, Sherry, Virgin Oak and Madeira Wine

The Twenty Five

Tasting Notes:
Color:  Deep amber
Nose: Smoked apricot, dark cherry chocolate, hazelnut   toffee
Palate: Baked fruit, toasted oak spice, orange and cinnamon spice
Finish: Rich caramelized smoke
Smoke: Mellow

The Thirty
Four cask matured: Bourbon, Sherry, Virgin Oak and Port

The Thirty

Tasting Notes:
Color: Mahogany
Nose: Stewed plum, baked orange, smoked walnut, and cinnamon cocoa
Palate: Dark fruit, manuka honey and chocolate raisin
Finish: Long and complex smoked honey finish
Smoke: Complex

“It’s a real honor to be able to offer our fans an opportunity to experience the diversity and versatility of Benriach’s orchard fruit-laden style, elevated by a longer maturation time,”
said Rachel Barrie, Benriach Master Blender.
“These older expressions are a beautiful reflection of the landscape around the distillery with intriguing, luxurious layers of flavor imparted by the eclectic casks sourced from around the world. The refreshed Benriach range is for those open to new possibilities, building on a wealth of experience and tradition. I invite the drinker to join me on this creative journey, as we explore the lush rewards of single malt whisky.”

The newly-released expressions are a continuation of the distillery’s core range, The Original Ten, The Smoky Ten, The Twelve and The Smoky Twelve, which were also artistically crafted by the Master Blender and her team. 

Over 120 years since it was established, Benriach is also expected to unveil its first official visitor center to the public later this year, allowing visitors from around the world to explore this Speyside whisky gem.

For more information for all of the new Benriach expressions, visit

About Benriach Distillery

A Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky as intriguing and extraordinary as Benriach could not have come to be without a unique whisky making heritage, dating from 1898, when founder John Duff built his distillery. Ruggedly beautiful, Benriach stands on the site of the old Riach farm in north Speyside, drawing water from a mineral-rich aquifer, deep beneath the distillery.

Thanks to a long-standing tradition of distilling three styles of whisky; classic unpeated, Highland peated and triple distilled, together with an eclectic selection of casks from around the world, our whisky makers are able to explore the full flavor possibilities of Single Malt, creating some of the richest, most multi-layered whiskies in Speyside.

This tradition continues today, under the guidance of Master Blender, Rachel Barrie.
Benriach is the story of a hidden Speyside gem, quietly revealing its treasures to be discovered and savored. 

Please Drink Responsibly.

Imported by Brown-Forman Beverages, Louisville, KY.

Benriach is a registered trademark. ©2021 Benriach. All rights reserved.

Woodford Reserve has released its oldest bourbon yet — Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon — as part of the distillery’s highly-anticipated 2020 Master’s Collection.

For this limited-selection and one-time-only product, Master Distiller Chris Morris and Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall used very rare barrels of Woodford Reserve to debut a new, modern bottle design. 

The bourbon includes liquid from barrels that are 17 years old and date to 2003, the year Chris Morris was named Master Distiller.
Morris and McCall have been holding back the barrels to batch with other barrels for a special release.

The name Very Fine Rare Bourbon is a nod to the descriptors used by our ancestors to auction highly-aged Bourbon barrel lots,” Morris said. “While Woodford Reserve will always honor the past, this Master’s Collection is about the present and future.” 

This year’s expression marks the 15th release of the Master’s Collection, which was created to honor the many discoveries and innovations that occurred at the 1812 distillery site where Woodford Reserve is now located.  Starting with the 2020 edition, all future master’s collections will focus on modern innovation by Morris and McCall.

The original Master’s Collection bottle design was shaped like a pot-still, an ode to the pot stills used for distillation at Woodford Reserve Distillery.
The new design references the classic and iconic flask-shaped Woodford bottle.

McCall said this Master’s Collection has special meaning for her and for Woodford Reserve.
It  is the first time her name will appear on the bottle hang tag since being named Assistant Master Distillery in 2018. 

What a fitting tribute to use these oldest barrels of Woodford Reserve to celebrate Chris Morris’ legacy while also looking to the future, “ McCall said. 

Tasting Notes: 

Color: Burnt Sienna

Aroma: Layers of rich oak sweet aromatic notes, caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla merge into a cured tobacco character brightened with apple fruit

Flavor: Very old oak notes sweetened with honey balanced by a touch of citrus and apple peel and a touch of clove spice

Finish:  A long finish of raisin fruit and malty sweetness 

This limited-edition Master’s Collection arrives at 90.4 proof and is available in select U.S. and global markets with a suggested retail price of $129.99USD for a 750ml bottle.

About Woodford Reserve:

Tucked in the heart of thoroughbred country in Versailles, Kentucky lives the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery, the birthplace of Woodford Reserve. A National Historic Landmark, the Woodford Reserve Distillery represents craftsmanship with a balance of historic heritage and modern practices. Woodford Reserve is a product of the Brown-Forman Corporation, a premier producer and marketer of fine quality beverage alcohol brands including Jack Daniel’s, Finlandia, Korbel, Tequila Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, and Chambord. Please enjoy your bourbon responsibly. To learn more about Woodford Reserve, visit or

Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon

Plasencia Cigars, a world-leading premium tobacco grower, announces the release of the limited edition the “Year of the Ox”. 
It’s a limited edition with only 2,500 eight-count boxes of the 7 x 58 Salomon vitola. It will be exclusive to the international market.

Plasencia “Year of the Ox”

The cigar brand commemorates the Chinese New Year this coming February 12, 2021, which is the start of the “Year of the Ox”.

Oxen is an important animal in Chinese culture because of its role in agriculture. They are recognized for their hardworking, honest, and humble disposition. Never the center of attention, and never looking for praise, the Ox gains its recognition through its labor.

The Plasencia family felt it important to recognize the hard-working agriculturists and farmers, who – like the Ox – are never the center of attention but continue to be the backbone of the cigar industry.

Growing tobacco since 1865, the Plasencia family felt that creating the “Year of the Ox” would perfectly align with their traditions and passion for tobacco. 

The Plasencia Cigars Master Blending team worked tirelessly to create this cigar, using leaf from the Plasencia family’s vast library of tobacco.

This Nicaraguan puro offers a distinctive smoking experience.
A medium-strength, full flavoured cigar, the smoker of the “Year of the Ox” will experience initial notes of cashews, red berries, and final notes of milky chocolate, with hints of peppermint.  

Plasencia Cigars CEO Nestor Andres Plasencia stated:
The “Year of the Ox” is dedicated to the hard-working people who are in the trenches, cultivating the very tobacco we used in this blend.
We at the Plasencia family consider ourselves farmers first.
Since 1865, our family has gained invaluable tobacco knowledge, born of unwavering hard work and dedication.
The Year of the Ox” celebrates that passion.” 

Plasencia Year of the Ox is limited in production; only 20,000 cigars have been created. Housed in stunning eight (8) count boxes designed to honour the upcoming Chinese Year of the Ox. 
MSRP: $35 per cigar
$280 per 8 count boxes. 

For more information, visit:, and follow @PlasenciaCigars on social media.


Plasencia Cigars is one of the world’s leading growers of first-class tobacco. The Plasencia family has been pioneering the industry since 1865 when Don Eduardo Plasencia began growing tobacco in Cuba, and five generations of the Plasencia family have continued the legacy. 
Today, Plasencia Cigars produces more than 35 million handmade cigars per year, and harvests tobacco on more than 3,000 acres across several countries in Central America, including Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Joya de Nicaragua was one of the locations I visited during Puro Sabor 2016. It was a memorable experience – one which I will dedicate an entire post to in the near future.
For now, I want to share this portion of a newsletter recently received from JdN.
It’s a reminder the cigar brands we love today haven’t always been available.

It’s a reminder that we have to protect premium cigars.

Dear amigos, our history has been a turbulent yet rewarding journey. In 1985, our country faced an embargo that prohibited our cigars from entering the United States. But, from that obstacle, we found an opportunity on having Europe as one of our greatest allies. Commemorating the resiliency of Joya de Nicaragua thirty-five years ago, the company is proud to introduce ​Cinco Décadas El Embargo.

THE 1980S

Two events were fundamental in shaping our country’s history during that decade: the civil war and the economic embargo declared by the United States. The embargo became an enormous obstacle for every Nicaraguan product, as they were prohibited from entering the US Market. However, instead of giving up, we did what Nicaraguans do best: we forge ahead a new path for us.

“The embargo was one of those hard situations we confronted, but one that in retrospect allowed Joya de Nicaragua to establish itself as a truly global brand.” – Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca.

With its primary market forbidden indefinitely, Joya de Nicaragua had to seek alternatives to sell its cigars. This is how Europe became of our greatest partners, emerging as the first brand of Nicaraguan cigars to be enjoyed in the old world. After that, becoming one of the best known Nicaraguan brands around the globe.


This limited 152 mm x 60 Gigante masterpiece, we bring to our European friends a token of gratitude for opening their arms to us during those years.

Released in 2018 to commemorate fifty years of cigar manufacturing, Cinco Décadas El Embargo continues to pay tribute to our milestones as a company and the events that have made and shaped who we are today.


Join Joya de Nicaragua online celebration, follow their social media channels!

Facebook: @joyacigars

Instagram: @joyacigars

Twitter: @joyacigars

Protect Premium Cigars.
Join Cigar Rights of America.

Ahead of the holiday season, Woodford Reserve announces the release of its annual holiday bottle, which this year features the festive artwork by renowned UK-based architect Nick Hirst.

Woodford Reserve “Winter Slumber”

Hirst’s serene painting “Winter Slumber” captures the contrast between the warm, wooden interior of the historic warehouse at Woodford Reserve, and the stone exterior of the building.
This snowy scene, recognizable to all guests who have visited Woodford Reserve over the last 24 years, celebrates the fact that whiskey ages year-around, regardless of weather.

Nick Hirst effortlessly captures the distillery with an artful elegance and architect’s eye,” said Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris. 

At Woodford Reserve, I was looking for an opportunity to compare the colder exteriors to the warm interiors of the older buildings, while continuing to ‘tell the story’ of how the whiskey was made” explains Hirst. “There was also a strong connection between the color of the rich wooden interiors of some of the buildings and the color of the bottle itself. The stone walls of the barrel store, with the barrel run leading into the wooden interior, was an ideal composition.

Specializing in historic buildings, Hirst has worked for 20 years in sites across the world from North Africa to the Middle East and Russia, identifying and analyzing the unique qualities of each building by drawing and sketching. His work has previously exhibited at the prestigious Royal Academy and Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour in London.

The “Winter Slumber” painting is based on a few preliminary pencil sketches from his visit to the distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, later laid onto a handmade watercolor paper with the detail added with gouache and pen-work.

“As I worked on the painting, I kept a bottle of Woodford Reserve on the drawing board, as a reminder of the color palette.
Inevitably the bottle made its way into a drawing,” Hirst said. 

About Woodford Reserve:

Tucked in the heart of thoroughbred country in Versailles, Kentucky lives the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery, the birthplace of Woodford Reserve. A National Historic Landmark, the Woodford Reserve Distillery represents craftsmanship with a balance of historic heritage and modern practices. Woodford Reserve is a product of the Brown-Forman Corporation, a premier producer and marketer of fine quality beverage alcohol brands including Jack Daniel’s, Finlandia, Korbel, Tequila Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, and Chambord. Please enjoy your bourbon responsibly. To learn more about Woodford Reserve, visit us or