A scotch-soaked cigar safari comes to Rhode Island


    Forget the good old boys, because this new safari tent scotch-and-cigar tasting adventure is just as popular with the ladies.

    “Yesterday we had a very large corporation from New York bring in 40 people — 30 of whom were women,” said Paul Mihailides, chairman of the posh Rhode Island sporting club the Preserve. “We have so many activities to choose from, but they all chose the safari tents.”

    Launched last August as a pop-up, The Preserve’s two safari tents have become so popular they’re now permanent fixtures on the 3,500-acre property.

    “We’ve been grossly, grossly successful,” said Mihailides. “Every weekend we’re full.”

    The experience — which is available to members, guests and the public — marries two of the world’s most iconic scotch and cigar brands: Laphroaig and Cohiba. According to Mihailides, it’s the first time either brand is partnering with an American resort. 

    The safari camp is now a permenant fixture.
    The safari camp is now a permenant fixture.
    The Preserve Sporting Club and Residences
    A peek inside on the safari tents.
    A peek inside on the safari camp tents.
    The Preserve Sporting Club and Residences
    The safari is all about white-glove outdoor fun.
    The safari is all about white-glove outdoor fun.
    The Preserve Sporting Club and Residences

    “Why whiskey and cigars? Why not?” asked Mihailides. “We pride ourselves on outdoor, white-glove experiences.”

    For that reason, he spared no expense when it came to the tents themselves. They’re definitely not your stark canvas structures designed to move with you across the Serengeti. Instead, they feature luxurious touches like real hardwood floors,  hand-woven Persian rugs, curated collections of fine art and seating so comfortable even the Goldilocks of glamping would approve. They also boast heating and HD-TVs worthy of showing the Super Bowl.

    Still, most people don’t book the two-hour tasting experience for the chance to watch Tom Brady throw a touchdown pass. They come for 25-year-old Laphroaig, single glass of which will set you back $190, or about 10 times what you’d pay for a shot of Jim Beam at the Plaza Hotel. It’s all good, though. It goes toward the experience’s $995 food and beverage minimum which can be split by up to 16 people. 

    The most expensive cigar on the menu, meanwhile, is the $30 Cohiba Royale which is actually a steal considering the circumstances.

    The experience's top bottle of scotch will set you back $190.
    The experience’s top bottle of scotch will set you back $190.
    The Preserve Sporting Club and Residences

    “There’s a big shortage of cigars right now,” explained Mihailides, “But Cohiba is keeping us well-stocked because of our venue.”

    If he finds it at all ironic that the cigar brand created at the behest of Fidel Castro — and once reserved solely for members of Cuba’s communist elite — is now going out of its way to supply an American sporting club, he doesn’t say anything (these aren’t actually contraband Cuban-Cohibas but their new world cousins, after all). Instead, the subject matter shifts to charcuterie boards. The scotch-and-cigar safari tent experience offers those, too. Think elevated Lunchables where — in lieu of watery ham, flavorless fake cheese and a mini Butterfinger — you get venison salami, smoked gouda and dark chocolate nibs. 

    For more substantial fare, guests don’t have to go too far. The property is also home to two Maker’s Mark Hobbit Houses serving up lunch, dinner and loads of bourbon in a “Lord of the Rings”-inspired setting.

    Basically, if you want to imbibe in an Insta-worthy venue, this is it.


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