In this installment in our series of cigar pairing reviews, the V.S.O.P. torpedo cigar is being reviewed along with an accompanying libation of V.S.O.P. brandy. In the world of brandy, VSOP stands for "Very Special Old Pale". In the world of cigar and brandy pairing reviews, VSOP stands for "Very Smooth On Palate". V.S.O.P. cigars are made in the Dominican Republic with mostly Dominican filler tobaccos, but use natural Indonesian wrappers. The torpedo size/shape measures 6 ½ inches long with a ring gauge of 50. These cigars are now Thompson exclusives. Since the cigar was not very expensive, it did not seem appropriate to pair it with a top shelf V.S.O.P. brandy or cognac. Therefore, E&J V.S.O.P. brandy was selected for the pairing.
The V.S.O.P. cigar was medium in strength and flavor, and was an average tasting stogie, which was not bad considering the price. I have smoked many cigars that cost more, but were less satisfying than the V.S.O.P. According to Thompson Cigar, these cigars once commanded a much higher price, but are now being sold at deep discounts, and are available in many sizes. On the other hand, the E&J brandy tasted a little tough as a straight up drink, and did not accompany the cigar very well. A much smoother brand of brandy would have made a much better companion to the cigar. However, if you are stuck with a lemon, then you should make some lemonade. I ended up mixing the brandy with some dark Crème de Cacao and cream to make a Brandy Alexander, which accompanied the cigar very well. For information about choosing a good brandy, visit About.com's Guide to Cocktails.
Draw and Construction
The cigar was well made, had a very easy and loose draw (but not quite too loose), and did not require any relights. For the most part, the burn was even until there were only about 2 ½ inches of the cigar remaining. However, the burn was just a little fast, as it took less than 40 minutes to smoke this stogie down to only two inches remaining. Cigars this size usually last close to an hour. There were not any other issues to report regarding the cigar's construction.
Now we get to the good news. When purchased in quantity (at least three bundles of 25 cigars) from Thompson Cigar, V.S.O.P. cigars are only $1 per stick, regardless of size. I consider them to be an excellent value, while supplies last. Although their medium body makes them appropriate for both beginners and experienced smokers alike, they are strongly recommended as an "everyday cigar" for the everyday cigar smoker. They are also good economical cigars to hand out at parties or share with friends. On the other hand, I do not recommend drinking E&J Brandy straight up. It is fine to use in mixed drinks that require a shot of brandy, but pay a few dollars more for a smoother brandy if you want to sip it straight.