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theScotchlife

Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

Month

April 2011

Edradour Natural Cask Strength, Bourbon Cask, a challenging dram

In coming up with some tasting notes and thoughts on this single malt that was bottled at full strength I found myself struggling. My struggle was two parts, first I paid extra for an unknown whisky to be shipped to me from the UK so I expected it to be interesting. Secondly, I found this whisky to be very challenging to categorize. I like to be able to taste a whisky and say, this is what I would do with this whisky (drink with meat, seafood, and I’d smoke it with this or that cigar or type of cigar). After tasting this single malt that was aged solely in a bourbon cask from Kentucky I’m not sure that what I tasted lived up to what I thought it would taste like.
Having tasted a Bushmills Malt 10 that was aged in some Kentucky bourbon casks I probably had more of that feel in mind and what I actually got from the Edradour was not even close. Nosing the whisky is a bit familiar, soft vanilla notes etc… I did not pick up any Highland notes and thought that most of the nose was coming from Kentucky.
I previously said I ordered this product hoping it would be interesting, well, when I tasted it I got what I paid for, only the interesting led to some confusion. This was not a product my palate found familiar. I was actually at a loss, the best I can say is that it has a lot of heat (alcohol burn) and a bourbon mixed with scotch sort of finish. Not what you’d call stellar notes! Like other whiskies or cigars that have left me confused I thought I’d wait, try it again and see what happens.
Well, tonight I poured myself another generous dram and nosed, sipped, same reaction, then it occurred to me, the ABV(alcohol by volume) is fairly high, I might put some water in it. So I did, and then thought, maybe just a little more (I don’t think I’ve ever done this). Bingo. All of a sudden with the alcohol content knocked down I could really start to see the flavors. It all made sense to me and I found myself pleasantly pleased that I had found a fix for this whisky.
By the way, the whisky is a bit viscous or oily. I think this would be a great whisky with pork. I did rather enjoy this alongside a CAO La Traviata maduro and think that it would mate well with full-bodied cigars at the full strength. To me, and I’m not sure I will ever say this again, but I’d knock down the alcohol content with some fresh water and enjoy it with a variety of foods and even some medium bodied cigars. That is, if you are in the UK. I don’t think you will find this one washing up on American soil any day soon.

Pinwinnie Royal Scotch Whisky

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Once in a while, someone pulls out an old whisky that they got from a parent or friend that is so old no one is sure where it came from or what it is. Some time ago a family friend who knew of my interest in scotch offered me an old and odd bottle of whisky. The graphics were obviously dated and the bottle looks like it had aged more than the actual whisky. The name read Pinwinnie Royal Scotch Whisky and still had the advertising/marketing information with it. I was eager to try it and was very surprised to find it a very drinkable whisky.

This Easter I had it again at his house and googled it and promised him I’d find out some information about it. Turns out it’s a long discontinued whisky that was handed over from the original Pinwinnie distiller to Inverhouse and has since been discontinued. From the packaging and marketing, I think it is from the late 1960’s.

The whisky is surprisingly good, very soft and rounded. When I nosed it I thought it may be a Speyside product, I was happy to see I was somewhat correct in that. I actually enjoy drinking it and actually get a kick out of it being a bit odd. I love finds like this one, they are uncommon and for someone who is inquisitive its a fun pursuit to find out information about it. If you have any, enjoy, there isn’t any left! And yes, I do intend on getting the rest of the bottle from him, if not, I will just keep visiting.

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Oban 14 notes

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Fortunately for us, the good people at Oban are not reality show actors, but some fine folks who have developed a fine whisky. The distillery is described by MJ’s guide to single malt scotch as a small town with a small distillery. MJ’s guide makes reference to Oban not being (previously) taken serious in comparison with the other powerful highland signatures. The Oban 14 is aimed at changing that suggestion.

It noses light, but pleasant. There are notes of seaweed and references to the sea in MJ’s book on this product and I really cannot add to it, except to say I haven’t eaten or smelled seaweed lately. I do find the nose delicate and pleasant.

In tasting it, which I do after a generous nosing that on this one made my mouth water, the whisky delivers a quick flash of excitement that quickly goes away clean. Tastes are light, but I do note some citrus, maybe a bit of a grapefruit, there is no complexity or bitters but a very nice and clean whisk of liquid. It is almost like sitting on the beach, watching an energetic burst of tide come and go. Who doesn’t like that?

I was smoking a Gurkha Regent Torpedo with it, not because I thought it was a great pairing, but because I was tired from doing home projects for two days. I did feel that the two worked nicely with each other and would not hesitate to recommend the two together.

This whisky would be great with lighter foods, seafoods, and would be great just enjoyed by itself.

I really liked this whisky, and now that summer is coming I was hoping for some refreshing new tastes from Scotland to enjoy. I think that I have definitely found one.

The Edinburgh Malt – Glenkinchie 12 yr notes w/Diamond Crown Cigar

Edinburgh, one of those towns in Scotland that is on the must see list and now a must see distillery, Glenkinchie. Of all of the regions of scotch that I have tasted whisky from, the Lowlands, is the one I have the least amount of experience with. The lowlands do not produce the major stars in scotch whisky today, yet produce some lighter, sweeter whisky. In fact, there are only a couple of working distilleries (Auchenotoshan being the other) with some possibilities of a future operation. Rosebank is a collectible but no longer existing distillery of the Lowlands.

Not knowing what to expect of this whisky I approached it with high curiosity. After a few tastes I was intrigued and pleased. I really enjoy the fact that this whisky had a complete different side to it. I also noted some light tobacco coming through the finish which spurred me to go to the humidor and grab the lightest, smoothest cigar I had. I pulled out a Diamond Crown, Connecticuit wrapper. Hardly a cheap cigar. Yet I thought of what I had, it was the best match.

The Glenkinchie is light, grassy and soft, slightly rubbery on the palate. It has a noteable finish, staying on top of the tongue with some pep that is not annoying or heavy. There is no bitterness in it at all. I find a bit of saltiness on the finish after drinking it for awhile.

As far as being paired with the Diamond Crown, I wasn’t as pleased as I thought I would be. The DC did its job, smoked wonderfully and is one of my favorite cigars. It was not an adversarial meeting of the two, but there was no magic. The next day I tasted the Glenkinchie and did not have a cigar. I found this better. I think this makes a good sippin whisky. I would enjoy this whisky with some good dry cheese or fruit. Its a good dram. I might also recommend this with seafood, boiled shrimp especially.

Cheers!

Cortez Natural Maduro

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This is an amazing boutique cigar that I picked up recently. This cigar smokes like a premium cigar but at everyday prices. There is not a lot of information on these cigars yet in way of reviews buy I must say it is about as pleasing as you can hope for. It is a well mannered medium to full cigar that delivers complex flavors from the first light. I smoked this with a Dalwhinnie 15 and they did not interfere with each other. This smoke is well made. The presentation is perfect. You can find them online at http://www.cortezcigars.com

Dalwhinnie Single Highland Malt 15yr. notes

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I received a three pack recently from Loch Fyne of the UK. It contains Glenkinchie 12, Dalwhinnie 15, and Oban 14. They are three scotch whisky’s that represent the “lighter” side of scotch.

The Single Malt Whisky Flavour Map, put together by Diageo and David Bloom places the Dalwhinnie 15 at dead even between the smoky and delicate sides and solidly in the Light category (as opposed to Rich).

When I first nosed it I noticed some highland characteristics, Macallan like which lies on the far end of the Rich category but on par basically with being between Smoky and Delicate. After tasting it I understood.

This is a really good whisky and is quite light on the palate. But it is not light on flavor by any means. To me it is quite floral and exhibits great fruit like ability. Its described as a good aperitif in MJ’s single malt scotch guide. The whisky is self-titled as The Gentle Spirit, I agree.

I was tasting this while outside just enjoying a post lunch smoke and it actually complemented, to an extent, the medium flavored cigar. The cigar is a Cortez, a boutique type cigar with headquarters in New Jersey (of all places!).

If you are trying to find a place to start drinking scotch, you would do yourself good to start with this excellent spirit.

Dalmore Gran Reserva – A Cigar smoker’s essential scotch whisky

I’m almost at a loss here because I could talk in wild rambling circles about my experience of meeting Richard Paterson in Las Vegas at the Nth event recently and sharing a cigar with him and the new upcoming re-release of The Cigar Malt by Dalmore. There are some things that defy words, or maybe the right vocabulary just escapes me, whichever, this is simply a whisky you must own if you smoke cigars and consider yourself a scotch drinker.

So there was once, The Cigar Malt, then, because of a mis-perception of what the scotch was all about (people actually believed they put tobacco in the scotch) they renamed it, The Gran Reserva. Well, then cigar smokers who enjoyed it said, WHAT they HEY! Where did it go, well, nowhere actually. So, I do not have the final marketing notes yet but rest assured that The Cigar Malt will find its way back onto this wonderful whisky. In the meantime, The Gran Reserva isThe Cigar Malt. Make sense? Well just go buy it. Damn.

In Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch it is described as a “complement rather than a contrast” to a cigar. If you are not sure what that means, fire up a cigar and pull out an Ardbeg Corryveckran and you may get it. Please, only choose this combination if you know what you are doing. You might want to have a side of bacon ready. If you are an Ardbeg fan, you know what I mean!

The Gran Reserva whisky is comprised of a blend of single malt highland whisky’s between 10 and 20 years old. It, to me, is as balanced as a complex whisky can get. And surprisingly this is not an $80 USD whisky but drinks much better to me than some that command that price. I tend to favor a medium to full cigar that delivers good flavor. I tend to always like a puro Nicaraguan cigar but am surprised by some blends with the Nicaraguans also. This whisky may drown out a light cigar like a Montecristo #2 or Macanudo but certainly would be a better experience than a Glenlevit or Johnny Walker (pick a color).

Here are some of the notes from Michael Jackson’s Guide on the whisky:

Palate – Rich, rounded. A hint of rum butter, then dryish and firm. Hard caramel toffee. Hint of burned sugar. Faint smoke. Never cloying. Finish – Light, smoky, wood bark, ground almonds, dryness.”

I put that in there for those who actually like tasting notes, I’d describe it as frickin perfect!

As Richard would say, Slainte Mhath!

A must have for any cigar smoker
The Cigar Malt[/caption

La Reloba Sumatra – My Fathers Cigar

For those who aren’t familiar with the Don Pepin branding, No, my father did not smoke this cigar. In fact, he was a non-filter Camel smoking man for 60 years. He did not die of cancer. Go figure.

Anyhow! This is a cigar that has been in my humidor since the last great smoke out in NY held by Cigar Aficionado. It was one of the many given out to those who attended and tonight was its lucky night. I should say that tonight was MY lucky night.

I had previously smoked a Gurkha regent while cooking tonight and after smoking a few of those have become familiar with them and do enjoy them. I’m not so sure if I will reorder but would not hesitate if I found a deal. The La Reloba, however, has just hit my MUST GO BUY list. Since I didn’t actually pay for this cigar I was unsure if it was a $7 to $8 cigar. To my surprise this beauty is made for the $5 to $6 dollar range (depending on your local taxes of course!).

To me this is everything a staple, mild/medium cigar should be. Smooth draw, great burn and good flavor. I even loved the way the ash burnt perfectly throughout and when the ash dropped off it showed off by sticking the landing straight up (see the picture). There is also a version of this with a habano wrapper.

This has the potential to be the favorite t-shirt kind of cigar. No need to fret, just pull it out and smoke it, regardless of the occasion. I’ve had a few cigars the past day or so that peppered my tongue relentlessly and this was a great departure from that.

I enjoyed it was a glass of The Dalmore’s Gran Reserva, which was made by Richard Paterson as a complement to cigar smokers, and I am beginning to believe I am not going to find a cigar that does not go well with this dram.

Well enjoy, buy yourself some La Reloba Sumatra’s, some Dalmore Gran Reserva and have yourself a wonderful time.

Nestor Miranda Art Deco Cigar w/Dalmore 12 year pairing

So the bad thing about drinking various whisky’s and smoking various cigars is trying to record and then write intelligibly about them in a timely manner.

I decided tonight I need to “catch up” with notes, somewhat, and multi-task. So I grabbed a stick out of the humidor and proceeded to the garage to write, smoke, and drink. Sounds good in theory but takes some work.

I pulled out the Art Deco Gran Toro cigar I procured from Leesburg Cigar and Pipe and headed out to sit by my lovely Triumph Rocket III and type.

I also brought with me a generous dram of The Dalmore 12 year. I’m determined to find the perfect smoke with The Dalmore and thought this might work.

To the regular smoker as myself this appears as a large ring cigar that is slightly oily and dark.Since it has a large amount of Nicaraguan leaf in it I thought it would be nice. It appears to be loosely wrapped and has a very nice smell to it.

CAUTION: This cigar, when lit, really announces itself. The firing up of it is like firing up an old V8 from the 60’s (no smog control) and any non cigar enthusiast nearby might just make note of it in a less than approving manner. Once the cigar is a full burn it leans out though, like a good V8 should, and delivers a less than offensive burn. The taste is a bit woody, old wood, but very nice, pure tobacco, no sugary sweetness or hint of spice in this one. It’s all about business.

The ash really opened up and I thought I would ash early but it hung on to my surprise and I actually dumped the ash due to it hanging over my laptop.

As far as the Dalmore. I found that the dram and the cigar were like two heavy-weight boxers who were hanging out enjoying each other, but in the ring would be all business. But for now, the cigar and the dram complemented each other but each showed their own strengths.
This combo is not for the casual smoker or imbibers for that much. I believe you need to be serious about The Dalmore and the Art Deco cigar. I’d recommend this combination after a nice prime rib or a porterhouse dinner. This also makes an excellent “chewing” cigar for those who like to chew on cigars for a while before lighting or not.

Some marketing notes and a good place to buy this cigar from can be found at cigars international.

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