Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood 2010

Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood 2010
Date: October 2023
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 has the Diplomatico series. 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. They were kind enough to sponsor Cigar Inspector with samples so we can write about pairings.

Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood 2010

Stalla Dhu is an independent bottler. They purchase barrels from famous distilleries and bottle them. The first- and second-generation members of the family carefully select whiskies that show promise and then age them in their own casks before bottling. Often the name of the original distillery is mentioned but not always. For this bottling, Stalla Dhu bought a cask from the Glen Elgin distillery from the heart of Speyside. This spirit was distilled on 8 of march 2010 and then stored in a hogshead ex-bourbon barrel and finished in a first fill Port cask. Only 268 bottles came out of the cask, and for the true whisky freaks that want the numbers. The cask number is 801455 and the bottle is 249/268. The ABV is 48%.

Recently was at a whisky tasting where I was shocked by the difference in glass. In Glencairn glass the whisky was like liquid chocolate, in a highball glass, the same whisky was almost undrinkable, flat and not palatable. So, I am trying this whisky in both glasses, neat and diluted with some water or ice, then as an old fashioned, and as a whisky smash to see what to pair the whisky with.

Glencairn:

The Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood is a stunning looking whisky with its rose gold or copper colour. I have never seen a whisky with this unique colour before. The viscosity is noticeable when you swirl the spirit in the glass. This spirit is strong on the nose, I mean, when it hits the nostrils, it feels way stronger than the 48% ABV it is. The aroma also reveals are hints of fruit, red wine, and apples. The spirit itself is nothing like that. This is Christmas in a glass. Warm, welcoming with dark spices such as cinnamon, but balanced with sweetness, nougat, nuts such as almonds and winter fruits. It coats the whole mouth. The aftertaste has a bit of creamy dark chocolate too, that keeps lingering for a long finish. This whisky is right up my alley. I was not smoking while I was tasting the Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood but I immediately wanted to light a medium bodied cigar such as the Charter Oak Habano Torpedo, a Fratello Arlequin or a Trinidad Coloniales. This is a whisky that goes well with any cigar as long as it’s medium bodied or stronger.

 

Highball

In this type of glass, the aroma is much friendlier on the nose. The alcohol doesn’t come off that strong anymore, but the red wine and fruit aromas are also much milder. The almond flavour in the spirit is stronger in the highball glass with an orange-like aftertaste. The creamy chocolate is there as well and with the orange flavour it reminds me a bit of the orange chocolate candy I had when I was a kid, many moons ago. But better, because the quality is higher plus it has alcohol. The Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood is a very pleasant whisky and if I drink it in a highball/rocks glass I would go for a maduro cigar That limits  the choices for Cuban smokers, as only Cohiba and Partagas have a cigar with a maduro wrapper. But in the non-Cuban world there are many choices. Think about a Kafie 1901 Don Fernando for a change, or an All-Saints Maduro. A rare boutique whisky from a smaller distillery with a nice maduro boutique cigar from a smaller factory, that sounds like a good match to me.

Old Fashioned

The aroma is quite pleasant with sweet notes, almond and a muted orange smell. Just like drinking the Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood neat, this is a winter drink. Sweet and warming notes of spice and orange over an underlining flavour of almonds. This is not a summer cocktail at all, but something for the colder months. If I close my eyes, I can see myself in a wooden cabin in front of a stone fireplace with this smooth and sophisticated tasting old fashioned, taking in the aroma of a wood fire and pine trees. Any medium bodied cigar will pair well with this drink, especially if it has a woody flavour profile. Something with a Cameroon wrapper would be nice too, so maybe the Rocky Patel Vintage 2001 or the Kristoff Cameroon.

and now for the Old-Fashioned recipe:

1 sugar cube
3 dashes of bitters

2 oz or 60 ml of Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood 2010
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.

Hemlock

To be honest, I have no idea about the history of the Hemlock cocktail and when I look online, I see many different recipes, some with no whisky at all. But I found this one a while back and the addition of a vanilla bean immediately grabbed me and I knew I had to make this cocktail at home. That vanilla bean gives the Hemlock a mild yet pleasant nose of fresh vanilla and fruit and there isn’t a lot of alcohol in the nose. The cocktail itself has a strong fruit flavor, with some pepper and spice. Very complex yet also balanced. First its spicy and sweet, and then there is a long lingering vanilla flavor that coats the mouth with an underlying peppery taste. The more the ice dilutes, the more this cigar reminds me of liquid vanilla ice cream. This with a woody cigar or something with chocolate notes would be amazing. An Opus X Destino al Siglo was my choice of cigar and the pairing was out of this world. I bet the same can be achieved with a Padron 1964 of an aged Cohiba.

 

And now for the Hemlock recipe:

1 piece orange peel

1 vanilla beans, split in half 

1 sugar cube 

2 dashes bitters 

2 ounces or 60ml of Stalla Dhu Glen Elgin Port Wood 

1 orange slices, for garnish 

In a rocks glass, muddle the orange peel, vanilla bean and sugar cube with the bitters. Add in the bourbon and some ice. Garnish with an orange slice.

Inspector X

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