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 Royal Brackla 2006 Single Cask
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, and in this case a highland whisky from the Royal Brackla distillery. The distillery goes back to 1812 and it earned the name Royal after King William IV selected this distillery to supply the Royal Court.
Now this specific bottling, from a hogshead cask Z06/210868, is not 200+ years old. It was distilled in November of 2006 and bottled in 2021. The cask only delivered 310 boxes, and for the number freaks, the bottle I’m tasting is number 211. The ABV is 48%, and for our American readers, that is 96 proof.
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.
This whisky has beautiful deep amber colour. The spirit is thin though. The aroma is very nice, it almost smells like a fruity cognac with a spicy undertone. I taste dark chocolate with a bit of alcohol. This is a warming whisky with dark spices and some sweetness. The mouthfeel is buttery and creamy and the spirit has a long finish. The finish is complex and warm. This is a perfect whisky for colder months as it warms you inside. This will go well with a cigar with chocolate notes to boost the chocolate in the whisky. Alec Bradley Magic Toast, Cohiba Maduro Genios.
With this type of glass I get little more alcohol in the nose together with more fruit, pear to be precise. The cognac aroma is still there. The alcohol feels a bit stronger due to the shape of the glass and there is more of a dark spice flavour. The chocolate is less pronounced and the whisky feels more peppery. That’s why I recommend a more peppery cigar. Something like the Bolivar Royal Coronas or a Don Pepin Garcia Blue or Black label.
I smell orange and cognac. There is lots of sweetness due to the sugar. There is also a bit of a bite from the whisky. The mouthfeel is thick and oily. The cocktail has a nice mix of wood, warm spices, all very rich tasting with a hint of orange. It is warming and complex, deep and rich in flavour. The sweetness tastes like caramel. This old fashioned with the Stalla Dhu Royal Brackla 2006 Single Cask would pair nice with a good medium bodied. Something with a Honduran Connecticut wrapper or Corojo wrapper for the nutty flavour, or something with a Cameroon wrapper for a bit of sweet spice.
and now for the Old-Fashioned recipe:
1 sugar cube
3 dashes of bitters
2 oz or 60 ml of Stalla Dhu Royal Brackla 2006 Single Cask
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.
Since this is a warming whisky, perfect for colder months, I decided that the Stalla Dhu Royal Brackla 2006 Single Cask was the whisky I would use to try a cocktail that had been on my list for a while. A warm cocktail instead of a cocktail over ice, it is something that is hard to comprehend for me as in my mind I connect cocktails with ice as cold drinks. On the nose I get lemon and heat from the water, it’s almost like warm lemon water. The cocktail is mild although the whisky characteristics are noticeable with a nice lemon touch. This Hot Toddy with the Stalla Dhu Royal Brackla 2006 Single Cask is not too citrus forward so it matches very nice with a cigar. Something earthy or something with some spice from a Cameroon wrapper would pair very well with this winter cocktail and the spices, such as cloves, that are in the finish of the drink. I can see myself drinking this on a cold winter day out in the snow, or after shovelling the snow of my lawn.
and now for the Hot Toddy recipe:
Boiling water to fill a mug
1 Lemon peel or lemon wheel
2 teaspoons of demerara sugar or brown sugar
¼ ounce of 7.5ml of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 ounces or 60ml of Stalla Dhu Royal Brackla 2006 Single Cask.
Fill a mug with boiling water and let stand for a minute or two to warm. Meanwhile, stick the cloves into the lemon peel or wheel and set aside. Empty the mug and fill about halfway with fresh boiling water. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the prepared lemon peel or wheel and stir. Add the lemon juice and whiskey, and stir again.