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Don V / Makers Mark Private Select Pairing Review

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One of the joys of writing reviews on cigars, whiskeys, and the pairings between them is that you will often have the opportunity to try a new cigar or whiskey and pair them that you may not otherwise have. That is the case with Don V by Oscar Valladares.


The Don V is a collaboration between Oscar and Vick Shah, who owns the Norwood Royal Cigar lounge in Chicago. The Vitola I had the opportunity to smoke was a Toro, Maduro in shade, and a Honduran Puro. One thing that stuck out to me throughout the smoke was that it was consistent in its earth, leather, and gamey notes with very subtle transitions of cocoa between the first and second third and coffee between the second and final third.


Makers Mark Private Select starts as a Makers Mark 46 bourbon, but then the selection begins from a choice of any combination of five different staves to finish the bourbon. The particular expression for this pairing came in at 108.5 proof and was aged between 5 and 7 years. The nose presented caramel and black cherries, while the palate brought buttercream oils with black cherries and cocoa.


You are looking for a marriage of the flavors with any pairings between a cigar and a drink. This marriage will either present through a complementary pairing where similar notes complement each other and enhance those flavors. Contrast pairings are another form of pairing that differs from complementary, where flavors will contrast and balance each other. The final style, which presents a nice marriage between the flavors, will be a balanced pairing, where neither cigar nor drink will impact each other and offer just a pleasant rounded experience.

Through each third of the cigar, drawing from the cigar first and then the drink, I noticed subtle changes where the buttercream oils were toned down, allowing the vanilla and cherry notes to become slightly more prominent. This, however, was not the case when taking a sip from the drink and then the draw from the cigar. In this direction, there was no significant impact or change to the notes from the cigar.

In this pairing, we had a contrast and balance style of pairing. I found the cigar and the whiskey quite enjoyable on their own; however, because of the different styles presented in the pairing, I would give this pairing a 3 out of 5 stars. It was enjoyable. However, the cigar deserves a drink with a little more boldness to it to stand up to the cigar itself.



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