Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Saorsa Aois

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 Saorsa Aois

Most of the Stalla Dhu whiskies mention the distillery where the spirit is distilled. But it’s not always possible to do so, sometimes distilleries want to keep it a secret that they sold casks for certain independent bottlers brands. Or sometimes the distiller even mixes in a little bit of whisky from another source, so its legally forbidden to claim it’s from a certain distillery. I guess it’s the case with Stalla Dhu Saorsa Aois, just as with the original Stalla Dhu Saorsa which also didn’t reveal the distillery. The original Stalla Dhu Saorsa did mention that it came from a highland distillery, but no name was disclosed.

The Stalla Dhu Saorsa Aois is the second release under the Saorsa name. This time the spirit has been aged further and the Cgars ltd website describes the whisky as “beautifully structured version with the same incredible character of its Sherry Butt matured predecessor.” This release is bottled in 2022. The sherry butt cask number is 210/300808 and the whisky is bottled at 50% ABV or 100 proof.

Neat

In a Glencairn glass I get a nose of sweet summer fruits with a hint of spicy cedarwood. The whisky is sweet with rich summer fruit flavours and pastry, but also spicy with wood and walnut flavours. Quite intense, very flavourful. The intense finish has a strong walnut flavour.

In a rocks glass, the aromas are weaker due to the wider opening of the glass. But the whisky has more bite. The walnut flavour is still strong. For both in a rocks and in a Glencairn glass I would recommend a stronger cigar, earthy or woody in flavour.

Old Fashioned

The nose is full on orange, as expected. The cocktail has character and a bit of a bite. The bitters overpower the fruity sweetness, but that’s been replaced with the sweetness of the simple syrup. The cedar wood and the walnuts provide a hearty and savoury touch to the cocktail. I would still pair this with a strong earthy cigar, just like with the neat versions of this fantastic whisky.

And now for the Old-Fashioned recipe:
1 sugar cube
3 dashes of Angostura 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.

Bourbon Lift

The cocktail equivalent of a New York egg cream, this rich and fizzy bourbon drink from bar pro Erik Adkins will thrill the kid inside everyone. But instead of using bourbon, I’m using the Stalla Dhu Saorsa Aois.

The nose is odd, a little bit of coffee, a little bit of cream. And the cocktail is odd too, tasty and nice but odd. The cream, coffee and orgeat work very well together, with the whisky giving the drink body and depth. The wood and the fruit from the whisky are still available. But what makes it odd is the club soda. The sparkling sensation of the soda water creates an odd mouthfeel. It’s like a nice coffee flavoured milkshake with a kick, but with sparkles. The creaminess would make it perfect for a creamy Connecticut Shade cigar, but the woody aromas of the whisky make it great for a medium bodied cigar with a wooden flavour profile. I am thinking about Joya de Nicaragua Numero Uno, Alec Bradley Coyol, or a La Flor de Las Antillas.

And now for the Bourbon Lift recipe:
1½ ounce or 45ml of whisky
½ ounce or 15 ml of coffee liqueur
½ ounce or 15 ml of heavy cream
½ ounce or 15 ml of orgeat
chilled soda water to top
Add the bourbon, coffee liqueur, heavy cream and orgeat into a shaker and vigorously dry-shake (without ice) for 10 seconds. Add ice and shake again until well-chilled. Strain into a Collins glass. Pour in the soda from a height of 6 inch or 15cm. Wait a few seconds and then add another splash of soda. This will lift the foam above the top of the glass. Serve with a straw.

Inspector X

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