The whiter the ash, the better the soil


By Moeed Shah
Head of Service Operations in the Food & Beverage Department at Les Roches Marbella

There is no place better in the world than Cuba when talking about climate and soil. This is one of the main reasons, why Cuban cigars are on top of the ladder. Are you smoking a Havana? Havana cigars have come to be recognized as a form of pleasurable indulgence. Havana cigars still preserve their reputation for being the best in the world, and even though many attempts have been made to imitate the delicate flavor of their tobaccos, none have succeeded. What makes a Havana cigar unique is a special blend of sun, soil, and skill.

To be able to recommend and pair cigars with spirits and wine, one must understand the color and flavor of cigars.

Claro Claro also known as Double Claro is light green and often tastes slightly sweet. These cigars were once very popular but are no longer so. Claro is a light tan color with its neutral flavor qualities. Natural or Colorado Claro, usually has a medium strength flavoring and aroma. Colorado is usually brown to reddish brown with rich flavor and subtle aroma. Colorado Maduro is dark brown, rich, and extremely aromatic. Maduro is very dark brown or black with silky and oily texture with a rich strong flavor and mild aroma. Oscuro meaning dark is also called “negro” in tobacco producing countries with a very heavy perfumed flavor.

Cognac provides an ideal marriage with a cigar. Your choice of beverage depends on personal taste. The beauty about cognac is its ability to clean your palate. The clean flavors of the distilled wine keep the palate alive for smooth, spicy, silky and oily flavors of a hand-rolled cigar. The smoky quality of fine single malt whisky also marries perfectly with a cigar. Do not forget, port is also a traditional partner for a great cigar. The sweetness of this vintage port blends perfectly with a full-bodied smoke.

For this post I have chosen Remy Martin V.S.O.P and Remy Martin X.O. The X.O situates in the higher price range and costs approximately 130GBP while V.S.O.P is more affordable and can be purchased at approximately 35GBP. Whatever cigar brand you choose, it must be medium to full-bodied, in other words Colorado Maduro is what you are looking for.

V.S.O.P is smooth, featuring aromas of vanilla, dried fruit, baking spices, ginger, and toasted oak. The perfect cigar with this would be Hoyo de Monterrey (Cuba) – a beautifully constructed cigar with a smooth silky wrapper. Strong notes of leather, flavors of toast, cocoa beans, and a hint of pepper. Full flavored but rich and smooth.

X.O is more complex, with notes of dark chocolate, port wine cask, exotic spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, honey, and caramel. A perfect marriage would be Cohiba Robusto (Cuba) – full-bodied with lots of tobacco character and a long after taste. Other brands would include Punch, Partagas, Montecristo, Davidoff, Bolivar, and the names just go on.

To better enjoy your selected cigar, I have a couple of hints & tips that will augment your experience: The cigar must be turned regularly in the mouth during lighting. The flame must be presented at an angle. Use of Sulphur matches and conventional lighters should be avoided. The smoke of the cigar should not be inhaled. A Havana is never stubbed out. It should simply be laid to rest; it will go out itself.

Zino Davidoff, one of the greatest cigar experts of all time summed up his philosophy by saying: “The greatest cigar to smoke is the one you are currently smoking”.

Commentary by Paolo Martignano
LR Alumnus and Service Instructor at Les Roches Marbella

Cigar and Spirit: Determining Body & Ensuring Harmony

Curious to solve the mystery of tickling the taste buds when harmonizing spirits and cigars?  It is actually simpler than you might expect and can be solved just by the tip of a tongue. The cardinal rule is to assess the body of each and make the match. The truth is, you want to find attributes where one will show off the other, like a marriage. The idea being to elevate and strengthen the pair as a whole rather than one overpowering the other; meaning each stands out and you can differentiate between the two.

For example, a light bodied cigar can go well with white wines, young reds, blended scotches, or lighter beers whereas medium bodied cigars pair well with Speyside, most Irish Whiskeys, rums, bourbons and port. For serious strength full bodied varieties are best with your peatist Islays, heavier single malts or dark stouts.

How to determine the body? The overall feel on the tongue is what determines it. The more you use your sense of taste, the better your palate becomes. After all this is how cigar and spirit enthusiasts develop and refine their expertise.

The ultimate goal is to complement the flavors of each component, for example, bitter and sour notes need sweet and savory flavors to temper them. In turn the latter gain interest from the former. When all taste constituents start to bounce off one another, this will result in pure excellence and a memorable harmony for the senses.

Mr. Moeed Shah is the Head of Service Operations in the Food & Beverage Department at LES ROCHES Marbella Global Hospitality Education.

As an alumni and a proud ambassador, he has been a service lecturer for 20 years. He is a certified hospitality educator (C.H.E) teaching the master’s program along with the postgraduate and undergraduate students.

He has standardized service and training concepts the students receive under his guidance along with his team of 8 professionals.

Mr. Shah is renowned for his masterclasses given on cigar and mixology.  He is also the creative mind behind the conceptualization and development of the HOUSES at LES ROCHES Marbella. His long association with this institution gives him the insight to the values of socialization which also led him to create the GOLF CLUB along with the COCKTAIL CLUB paving a path for the students to enhance their creativity be it through sports or leisure.

Moeed holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce, graduate in Hospitality industry and a certified teacher in higher education.

Learn more about Les Roches Marbella here and contact Claire Reid-Warrilow claire.reidwarrilow@sommet-education.com for more information.

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