Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Speyside Single Malt

Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Speyside Single Malt
Date: April 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 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 Speyside Single Malt

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. In this case the distillery is undisclosed, the only thing revealed is the ABV of 40% and that the distillery is somewhere in the Speyside. The label doesn’t mention single cask, so I guess this isn’t a limited edition or something rare and unique to have.

Recently I 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 spirit has a beautiful golden amber colour and the viscosity is thick and oily. The aroma is fresh with hints of lemon and sweetness finished with a punch from the alcohol. The taste is a bit thin, but with sweet caramel, dried fruits, and a bit spice in the aftertaste. The sweet finish is long. This is not a remarkable whisky, but it has character and is great for its price. Due to its flavour palate, this is a whisky that can handle a lot of cigars. From medium bodied to something full and strong with almost any flavour pattern. I just would not pair this with a Connecticut Shade cigar

Highball

In this rocks glass, the aroma of the alcohol smell is gone. I do smell citrus and sweetness, but the citrus is different than in the Glencairn glass. In this type of glassware I smell more orange and less lemon. The mouthfeel is thicker, creamier but that unfortunately also means less character. The flavours are more muted, sweetness of dried fruit but less sweet. The spice in the aftertaste is also less characterful. There is still a long finish with sweetness and a hint of vanilla. Even a stronger Connecticut Shade cigar will go well with this, but this Stalla Dhu Speyside Single Malt. is a friend to all kinds of cigars. It can stand up to strong earthy cigars, pepper, but also plays well with milder cigars.

Old Fashioned

After tasting the Stalla Dhu Speyside Single Malt neat in two different glasses, I can’t wait to try this in the classis of classics, an Old Fashioned. The spirit is so friendly and versatile that I am curious on how it plays with added sweetness, Angostura bitters and a slice of orange peel. The aroma is different, I smell sweet almonds and orange. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. There is relatively quite some spice, more than the neat versions, but with sweetness. I also taste a little bit of vanilla. Orange is there as well as a bit of bitterness from the angostura. The cocktail is kind of flat, I expected more after drinking this friendly whisky neat. I would not pair this with something strong as it will overpower the cocktail. And old fashioned is not the type of cocktail for this whisky. Neat it’s very nice, but in an old fashioned all the character is gone. This is to be paired with a medium bodied cigar with a nutty profile. I am thinking about a Nicaraguan Condega Serie F, or a Cuban Juan López.

and now for the Old-Fashioned recipe:
1 sugar cube
3 dashes of bitters
2 oz or 60 ml of Stalla Dhu Speyside single malt
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.

 Mamie Taylor

I smell some lime and some ginger but the aroma is mild because of the cold and all the ice. The cocktail itself is very tart due to the lime. There is also a little heat from the ginger but the whisky is completely overpowered by the lime and ginger. If you said this was a virgin cocktail, I would believe it. Ginger and lime blow the scotch away. That would be a good thing with a bad scotch, but it’s a bad thing as I happen to like this Stalla Dhu Speyside Single Malt neat. As for cigars, the lime demands something strong, peppery or earthy. Something from the likes of Tatuaje or Espinosa, or a relatively young Partagas Maduro if you want to pair this with a Cuban cigar.

And now for the Mamie Taylor recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Stalla Dhu Speyside Single Malt
3/4 ounce or 22½ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
Ginger beer, chilled, to top
Garnish: lime wedge
Add the scotch and lime juice to a highball glass or a Collins glass full of ice. Top with the ginger beer and stir briefly and gently to combine.
Garnish with a lime wedge.

Inspector X

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