Pairing: Padron Hammer Natural & JW Kelly Single Barrel Bourbon


The week of my birthday was fairly uneventful, but sometimes that’s for the best. I decided to make my own “event” to end the week, though.

Last December, a customer at Burns gifted me a Padron 50th Anniversary Hammer Natural. I have smoked several of the Maduros, but knowing already that I preferred Padron’s Maduros over their Naturals, I had never spent the considerable amount of money to purchase a Natural. I said it out loud at least a few times: “If I’m spending my own money, I’m buying what I know for sure I’ll like, but if someone gives me one, I’d love to give it a try.” Someone did…so I just had to find the right time to burn it.

A couple days ago, we hosted a tasting event at Burns and the rep brought along some J.W. Kelly Single Barrel Bourbon to go with his Meluha cigar (I plan to take a closer look at that brand on these pages soon). At the end of the evening, there was a really good pour left of the whiskey and he let me bring it home with me.

What better way to celebrate turning 48 than to consume some extravagant gifts given to me in the past year?


The Hammer Natural is really one of the most beautiful cigars I have seen. The wrapper leaf is a medium-brown with plenty of red in it and it smells of cedar and earth and tobacco. The foot of the cigar had a definite “cigar shop/humidor” aroma that I occasionally still get when I walk into a shop…I really only get that aroma when I haven’t smoked anything that day already, though. It’s a great nostalgic aroma that takes me back to my early days of discovery in the cigar world. The cold draw was excellent and tasted of natural tobacco and wood.

The J.W. Kelly Single Barrel Bourbon is a double-oaked, single barrel expression from the same folks that brought us the Old Milford, simply a fantastic Bourbon…if you like Bourbon…and you should…you need to try it. This Single Barrel is a more limited run that runs about $50 a bottle in the Chattanooga area. It is a dark red/amber color with incredibly thick legs running down the inside of the glass whenever I swirl it up. The aroma is heavy with vanilla and oak, but there is also a definite fruity note that came through alternately as apple or pear. At the elevated 111 proof, it is a little hot to drink completely neat, but add some water and it becomes smooth and silky on the front end, while remaining spicy on the back.

I lit up the Padron Hammer Natural and found it to be very smooth and rich on the initial draws. I got notes of cedar and earth, a grassiness that was a little unexpected and more sweetness than I have previous gotten in Padron’s Natural lines. Pepper spice was subdued on the palate, but on the retrohale, there was a ton of red pepper spice.

The Bourbon was a little stronger than this cigar really needed, but it still went with it reasonably well, adhering to my Basic Bourbon Pairing Rule: Almost Any Cigar Will Pair With Almost Any Bourbon (although some pairings will work better than others).

The Padron 50th Anniversary Hammer Natural was a great way to spend a couple hours of “leave me alone” time on a Sunday afternoon, accompanied by a very nice Bourbon. In the end, I still prefer the Maduro version of the cigar and I do still prefer the regular Old Milford version of J.W. Kelly…but not by much in either case.

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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