Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Single Malt Blair Athol 110 Proof Oloroso

Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Single Malt Blair Athol 110 Proof Oloroso
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 Blair Athol 110-Proof

Blair Athol distillery is a single malt whisky distillery in Scotland. It is used in Bell’s whisky, and is also normally available in a 12-year-old bottling. The distillery is located on the south edge of Pitlochry in Perthshire, near the River Tummel.

The distillery was founded in 1798 by John Steward and Robert Robertson, was closed a few times before being reopened and closed again. In 1932, Arthur Bell & Sons bought the mothballed distillery and due to renovations and the second world war it would take 17 years to produce whisky at the distillery again. Nowadays the distillery is owned by Diageo.

This interesting independent bottling from the Highland distillery, distilled in 2013 and bottled at the punchy 55% abv, after a finishing period in Oloroso sherry casks. Blair Athol is known for its bold, malty, slightly spicy, and nutty character. With a history spanning back to 1798, it stands as one of the oldest legal distilleries in Scotland and its only official release is as part of the Flora & Fauna range by Diageo. Oloroso is a type of fortified wine made in Jerez, Spain, which is crafted using the Palomino grape variety and it’s intentionally exposed to oxygen during the aging process, resulting in a rich, amber-hued sherry with complex aromas and a dry character. This expression only carries 323 bottles.

Neat

In a Glencairn, the nose reminds me of green apples with oak, dates and leather. The 55% ABV shows in the spirit, which is warming and has a kick. The whisky has flavours or toasted walnuts with a sweetness that comes close to dried dates. I also taste ripe forest fruits, such as blackberries and raspberries. Those flavours show up in the finish, which is sweet and fruity. You wouldn’t want to pair this with a mild cigar, but also not with a full bodied cigar. Maduro doesn’t seem like the best choice either due to the sweetness. Something from the Arturo Fuente Hemingway series with the Cameroon wrapper would pair nice, Indian Motorcycle Habano or a Flores y Rodriguez.

In a rocks glass, the aroma changes. More toasted and woody aromas with leather and sweetness but none of the green apple. The spirit is still warming, with the sweetness of the dates and forest fruits, combined with nutty and toasted flavours. When you drink this in a rocks glass, there are more pairing opportunities, instead of medium you can even medium-full. If you want to pair this with a Cuban cigar, I’d go for a Partagas and non-Cuban, you can go with almost everything from Oliva except the Connecticut Reserva.

Old Fashioned

As always with an old fashioned, the nose is orange from the orange peel. The orange has spread to the flavour where it marries with the dried dates, forest fruits and the simple syrup for a sweet cocktail but it’s balanced by the toasted oak notes and the bite of the high alcohol content. This might be the perfect whisky for an old fashioned, if you love a sweet, but not overly sweet, old fashioned with lots of character. I would pair this with a high end cigar, a Padron 1964 Natural, an OpusX, a Muestra de Saka or the Joya de Nicaragua Cinco de Cinco.

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.

A Hole in One

I can’t recall where I found this cocktail, but it looked interesting to me, interesting enough to try this concoction. The nose is mostly tea with the lemon wedge. The tea and honey syrup overpower the warmth and toasted oaky notes of the whisky, the fruity sweetness is still there. This cocktail goes well with a medium cigar, even a medium cigar on the milder side like the Jas Sum Kral Zlatno Sonce or the Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne. A Cuban Juan Lopez or Sancho Panza would work as well.

And now for A Hole in One recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Whisky
½ ounce or 15ml of rich Honey syrup
3
ounces of 90ml of Unsweetened tea
1 lemon wedge
Add all the liquids
in a mixing glass with some ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with the lemon wedge

Inspector X

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