Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Benriach 12-Year-Old Rum Wood

Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Benriach 12-Year-Old Rum Wood
Date: June 2024
Author: Inspector X

Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. Mombacho used to have the Diplomatico series but Mombacho no longer exists. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce whisky, gin, rum, vodka and liquors.

Stalla Dhu Benriach 12-Year-Old Rum Wood

This whisky comes from Benriach, a distillery with a history dating back to 1898. And it’s a history with bankruptcy, seasonal operating times and the distillery changed hands multiple times. The founder of the distillery, John Duff, also owned the Longmorn distillery and the two were joined by a private railway. For a short while the distillery was owned by Glenlivet, afterwards it was owned by Pernod Ricard, then independent and now it’s a part of Brown-Forman, a large player in the spirit business.

This Speyside Single Cask was distilled in 2010, matured for 12 years, and finished in an ex-rum barrel before being bottled at the slightly punchy 50% abv. Only 308 bottles were drawn from the cask, making it a limited-edition release. Benriach distillery is known to produce a spirit with fruity aromas at its core, a character also showcased in this bottling and intensified by the finishing period in the ex-rum barrel.

Neat

The nose in a Glencairn glass is amazing. Fruity, marmalade, raisin, but there is a nice green apple note too. A bit of sweetness, probably from the rum barrel. The spirit itself is complex. On one hand it is savoury, but there is also a coconut flavour. There is a hint of a nice dark Caribbean sipping rum, the sweetness of rum but it’s nuanced. The mouthfeel is both creamy and waxy at the same time. The whisky coats the palate. Pair this with a nice, medium to full bodied cigar with a spicy character and you’ll have a match made in heaven. I paired this drink with an aged Padron 1926 Natural and my day suddenly became much better.

The nose is less pronounced in a rocks glass. All the same notes as in a Glencairn but milder as the aroma has more space to escape. The mouthfeel is creamier and thicker though in this type of glass. The sweetness comes from coconut and vanilla, with a savoury and woody flavour. The finish is a bit dry though. I was still smoking the Padron 1926 Natural, that was very nice, but I think most Habano wrapped cigars will do well with this rum. I would avoid a Maduro wrapper due to the sweetness. It might be too much, the sweetness of this very nice whisky and the sweetness of a Maduro wrapper.

Old Fashioned

On the nose, it’s all about orange. Orange with a hint of the sweetness of the whisky. The orange is also very dominant in the flavour, while the sugar gives the cocktail a bit more viscosity. The bitters are also on the front of the flavour palate. The apple is gone, while the coconut and the sweetness take the backseat. A slightly spicy cigar, such as a Cohiba or an Aganorsa Supreme Leaf will pair very well with this cocktail.

And now for the Old-Fashioned recipe:

1 sugar cube
3 dashes of bitters
2 oz or 60 ml of whisky
orange peel

Put the sugar cube in a highball glass, add the dashes of bitters and a splash of water. Muddle the sugar cube. Add ice and the whisky. Stir for 10 seconds, then add an orange peel.

Union Club

In 1948 David A. Embury published the book ‘the fine art of mixing drinks’ which had a cocktail called Union Club, named after the gambling joint opened by the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp in 1899. The current day Union Club is an adapted version of the original recipe.

The cocktail is nice and pink, with a white foam head from the egg white. There is a sweet aroma with a little bit of almond. The drink itself is thick, almost like a milkshake. It is sweet due to the rum notes, the whisky and the grenadine. It is fruity, the savoury notes are gone. It is balanced but on the sweet side. I would go for a stronger cigar here, preferably something with a peppery flavour profile such as the Ramon Bueso or an Oliva serie V.

And now for the Union Club recipe:

2 ounces or 60ml of Whisky
½ ounce or 15ml of Lime juice, freshly squeezed
¼ ounce of ml of Triple Sec
¼ ounce of 7½ml of Orgeat

ounce or 5ml of Grenadine
1 egg white

Add all the liquids and the egg white in a cocktail shaker and dry-shake vigorously (dry-shake = shake without ice) for 15 seconds. Then add ice, shake again and strain into a cocktail glass.

Inspector X

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