After dinner heaven
Cigar whiskies to go with a good smoke have become popular,we have a look at some of the best.
It is one of those classic silver screen moments. The bar doors flap closed behind him and the dusty clothed baddie enters the bar ready to pick his fight.
A chiselled jawed and weather beaten Eastwood squints over his hand of cards at the stranger, puts his drink down and quietly readies his gun.
Then, and always in slow motion, he pushes his chair back, puts two slugs into the baddie before he can even reach for his weapon.
Eastwood then simply bites off the end of his cheroot, lights up and goes back to quietly sipping his bourbon or rye.
Lets face it there is no better way to finish off a good evening than relaxing with friends over a decent whisky with a your favourite cigar, and you do not even need to have just polished off your nemesis to deserve it.
The relationship between the two luxury items has been cememted of late with various whisky companies releasing cigar malts, and identifying expressions and premium blends as marrying well with cigars.
So we have decided to look at some of the iconic Cuban cigars on the market, all of which are pretty much medium to full bodied in flavour.
It is true to say that you need a good strong whisky to work well with the stronger cigars, so appearing in the whisky corner to start with we have the cigar smokers’ favourites the Auchentoshan Three Wood and the Dalmore Cigar Malt.
Rather than a huge tasting we have tried to suggest pairings that we like here at Whisky Magazine.
The heavy weight Cohiba Siglo IV matched the sherried Three Wood to perfection. It is often hard to match Islay whiskies with cigars but the peaty blend of Black Bottle worked well with the slight salt of the Vegas Robina Classicos.
In the blends corner the fuit and oak bite of the veritable Chivas Regal 18 married well with the demanding Montecristo No.1.
Cigar smokers’ favourite, the Dalmore Cigar Malt really came alive with the wonderful Punch Punch, and the Glenfiddich Gran Reserva, with its Cuban rum influence, found a loving home in the arms of the Romeo YJulieta Exhibicion No.3.
Finally we found a Ledaig 10 Years Old matched the glorious Rafael Gonzales Lonsdale beautifully.
Simon Chase, marketing director for Cuban cigar importers Hunters and Frankau says his preference is blends with cigars.
“However,” he adds, “If you have the money then the Whyte and Mackay 30 years old with a Montecristo No.2 is pretty close to heaven as you can get.
“If you are looking at a good Speyside you cannot really go wrong with something like a Partagas or Bolivar and the good old Auchentoshan Three wood. The whisky has a sweetness that really helps with the strong cigars.” Iain Weir, director of marketing at Ian Macleod distillers, says that although there is no more stock of the Chieftain’s Cigar Malt, there would be another bottling this year.
“We get a good panel together with Antony McCallum our rare malts manager and Jens Tausch a German cigar expert.
“Antony will then select several samples from our casks and we smoke some well chosen cigars and pick our favourite. It is then bottled and released with tasting notes and some cigar recommendations.” Over at Whyte and Mackay, innovation director David Robertson says that when master blender Richard Paterson is choosing his cigar malt he is looking for something rich and deep for the Dalmore range.
“It is all about the after dinner experience,” he adds. “Almost 60 per cent of the Cigar Malt mix is first fill Spanish Oak sherry finish giving an additional level of rich flavour.
“At the end of the evening when your palate has been challenged by everything, you need a whisky that can cut the mustard.” Ian MacMillan, master distiller for Burn Stewart, says he always thinks of Black Bottle being a good whisky for cigars.
He adds: “Being a deluxe blend, it is something totally different as it harnesses the power of the Islay malts.
“Same thing with the Ledaig. It gives you smoke on the palate as well as in the mouth.” Next time you sit down for an after dinner smoke and whisky give one of these combinations a try, it might just brighten your evening.
THE CIGARS – ROB ALLANSON
COHIBA SIGLO IV
Cuba’s iconic cigar brand. A demanding, heavy girth Havana with a smooth draw, complex taste and aroma. Stands up to the Auchentoshan very well.
VEGAS ROBINA CLASICOS
A demanding, medium bodied Havana with a perfect wrapper and draw. Slightly salty on the tongue with good earthy depth to it, worked well with the Black Bottle.
Another demanding medium to full bodied Habanos with a great slightly tarry taste to it. Has a pleasant aroma with sweet spicy undertones which married well with the Chivas Regal 18.
A great medium to full cigar with deep earthy notes and complex aroma and taste which complimented the Dalmore beautifully. Slight sweet undertones with a dark richness to it.
ROMEO Y JULIETA EXHIBICION NO.3
A slightly bitter and tarry, medium bodied Havana which burns well with a wonderful aroma. Woody notes with a little sweetness to them perfect for the Glenfiddich.
RAFAEL GONZALES LONSDALE
A near perfect Havana that draws and smokes exceptionally well. Lovely earthy notes with slight sweet almost honey taste making a great companion for the Ledaig.
THE WHISKIES – DOMINIC ROSKROW
AUCHENTOSHAN THREE WOOD
Nose: Quite gentle but all sherry. Some vanilla and raisin notes do peak through.
Palate: Sherry, sherry, something bourbony and vanillery and then more sherry. Not much else though.
Finish: Pleasant and full. This whisky has its critics because the sherry dominates the Lowland subteties of the brand but I like it.
Nose: Not over-aggressive, but nicely balanced between young agitated peaty malt and something more calming – probably the grain. Quite thin.
Palate: The grain softens the effect of the peat hit so it’s an altogether better behaved whisky than it might have been. But there’s lots going on underneath, with smoke and phenols in battle with lighter fruitier notes.
Finish: Seems to die away quite quickly but there is a plesant bitter smoke after taste that lingers. Won’t overwhelm a robust cigar but won’t be bullied either.
CHIVAS 18 YEARS
Nose: There are enticing aromas of soft melon and grapefruit. Rich berries. Subtle.
Palate: Rich sweet fruits, cocoa, and honey.
Finish: Something of an unexpected bite from the wood but the Speyside fruit notes finish this off. A curious combination overall though.
DALMORE CIGAR MALT
Nose: Very light, thin and inoffensive.
Palate: Weird. Quite sweet and doesn’t want to offend you. There’s an odd earthy note to start and then some citrus fruits fight back. If nothing else it’s unusual.
Finish: Not particularly long but quite pleasant. Maybe this needs a cigar before it starts showing off. On it’s own though, it’s a bit lost.
GLENFIDDICH GRAN RESERVA 21 YEARS
Nose: Clean and enticing with citrus fruits and particularly melon. Light but sophisticated.
Palate: Much fuller and chewier than you might expect, with zesty oranges and grapefruits to the fore, malt to the middle and that lovely weight from the wood in the rear, giving it that wondeful statesman like quality of classy older whiskies.
Finish: Rich, full and lasting. A case of age coming with beauty rather than before it.
Nose: Acerbic, bitter cigarette ash. Sounds awful. It isn’t.
Palate: Pretty good reflection of the nose. Bitter sweet malt and fruit but the woody and smoky body makes this whisky.
Finish: Beautfiully calm and unaggressive after the initial rush. Ledaig is producing some crackers.