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theScotchlife

Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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Cigars

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.

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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.

Olivia series G, a fine smoke!

I’m smoking a series G that has been in my humidor for about 5 months now. And I’m happy to say my humidor is running perfectly these past few months! I’ve been meaning to smoke this for some time and tonight I was enjoying a rum and coke (zero) and thought these might match up well. I’d have to say the G outdid the cocktail! A very nice medium cigar with Nicaraguan leafs that I do enjoy so much! This cigar has wonderful cedar and coffee notes that really do not disappoint. It has an easy draw and produces creamy smoke, you should not be disappointed by this one.

Montecristo white label #2

I picked up this smoke at a local shop only because I’d heard people refer to it while sampling some Dalmore Cigar Malt in Vegas. I was curious to the flavor of it, I’m not a Montecristo regular, and how it would pair with a Dalmore whisky. Now I picked the #2 white label on the advise of the well-educated gentleman at the tobacco shop. He explained that the Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper would give me a little bit more flavor, which I insist upon.

I did not have dram in hand, that I remember, when smoking this cigar. What I do remember was that this was not a very powerful cigar. As I referred to an earlier article, this cigar is taken largely from the lower leafs on a plant, they are shielded from the sun and do not produce as much flavors as the leaves further up the plant. The cigar is marketed as a rich, creamy and flavorful, well-rounded smoke. I’ll go with creamy, flavorful, to an extent, but rich, not so much. I have a hard palate, I drink black coffee and I drink whisky neat. To me this cigar is a great golf cigar or a pre-dinner cigar. It doesn’t challenge my palate much and if I’m around friends just enjoying the conversation this cigar would be just fine. But as someone who is trying to awaken and challenge my palate, not so much.

As far as pairing it with whisky, I would not choose a Dalmore. To me a Dalmore has way too much flavor to it, due to the excellent work of “The Nose” Richard Paterson, and I would think a Dalmore would overpower the Montecristo #2. I recently imbibed on some 12yr Dalmore and thought a medium to full cigar would be a better match. If you want guidance on a Dalmore, I recently smoked a Gurkha Regent Torpedo and I think it would be up to the task.

To me, the #2 would be best suited with a great Speyside, non-peated, whisky. I’d like to try it with a Balvenie expression.

One impression I do remember at full smoke was that a great, out of the oven yeast roll would be at home along side this cigar. It was the most exact pairing I could think of since that taste was coming through.

Ligero, Seco, Volado? Cigar smoker? An education awaits!

A recent trip to a Tobacco shop in Northern Virginia became an educational event for me. I’ve smoked cigars for years and have never fully understood the differences in cigars beyond size, color, etc….. My trip to Leesburg Cigar & Pipe was one done somewhat reluctantly and turned into a damn good decision.

Reluctant? Well, I was hoping to go there during the Rocky Patel event which was being held at 3:00p.m. and I was tied to an earlier appointment that couldn’t be moved during that time frame. The General Manager, Bill White, informed me that the vendor wasn’t showing up until then with supplies so the sale could not start until then.

Somewhat disheartened, I did what most everyone does, head towards the humidor for “the sweep.” I call it the sweep because it’s what I always do. I start left or right, depending on configuration of the humidor and look at the products. I’m not really tied to one brand, though I do like Rocky Patel products (this store has its own house-brand which is made by Rocky). While doing my sweep Bill came in and offered me a basket since I had two handfuls of sticks. I then started asking him to give me some information on each of the products I’d picked out. This led to a discussion of my love of Scotch and “The Scotch Life” blog. Since he saw that I was more of a connoisseur, his words, than a simple consumer he gave me an education in the tobacco leaf plant. Finally, some useful information. I told him that while developing my palate on various scotch whisky’s, there are more than you think!, and I likewise wanted to develop my palate for cigars. I’ve often been asked by friends what wines to choose with food, I find this easy, but do not have that kind of knowledge or developed opinion when it comes to pairing whisky and cigars or whisky and food.

Bill educated me on the differences of the leaf types, Ligero, Seco, and Volado. The effects of nicotine and flavor with each type is very different and if you care about taste, you will want to understand the differences. A simple Google search led me to this page that does, on the surface, a very good job at describing the differences and architecture of a cigar. One aspect that hit home was that the Ligero leaf, which is the top leaf of the plant is the spiciest, and more flavorful of all of the leafs. The bottom leaf, Volado, tends to be popular with the Macanudo crowd and others that prefer a less flavorful experience. This knowledge can help you from picking a cigar that isn’t going to agree with you and therefore not giving you the experience you are looking for. I personally like flavor, but there are times I want an uneventful smoke. I do like variety and it makes me appreciate the art of cigar making much more. The same can be said for Scotch.

Well, I walked out with a handful of cigars, like I needed more! And more importantly walked out better educated on the craft of cigar making. I will try in the future to get some more comprehensive links and information to share. I intend on making a chart of cigars and what whisky and food to pair with them.

So please, do frequent your local cigar shops and don’t be afraid to quiz them on their knowledge of the products. If you do not find the kind of education I came across then go to another one! A local tobacco shop shouldn’t be just a retail outlet but an educator in my opinion.

Light ’em up!

Cigar Interview With Rocky Patel (by

Cigar Interview With Rocky Patel (by smokinghotcigarchick

)

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