Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Truthbetold 22

Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Stalla Dhu Truthbetold 22
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 flavor 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 Truthbetold 22

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 with the Truthbetold 22. Some famous distilleries are fiercely protective of their whiskies and adapted a process called tea-spooning; as in adding a teaspoon of another malt. This is so ‘Independent Bottlers’ cannot call it a Single Malt or use the Distillery name. This whisky is from where the red dear roam Speyside splendour according to the label. It’s been bottled in 2019 from a hogshead cask with an ABV of 54.4%. The cask contained 309 bottles, and I had bottle 183. The whisky won a gold medal at the international spirits challenge 2020.

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 penicillin to see what to pair the whisky with.

Quite light in color, almost gold and shiny. It is not a very oily whisky. On the nose I get citrus fruit and floral notes in a Glencairn glass. Because of the high ABV there is a slight burn in the throat. The flavor is light, clean and crisp flavor, fruity with butterscotch and some smoke. 2 drops of water bring out more smoke and a light peat. This is not a whisky to pair with a mild cigar, you need something strong such as a Liga Privada T52 or a Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro to be able to stand up to this. If you’re a Cuban smoker, think Partagas Maduro or Bolivar Royal Corona.

In a highball the nose is a little saltier and more medicinal with the floral notes. The glass makes a huge difference. I tried it with an ice ball to chill the whisky and mellow it before drinking, The flavor profile is slightly different too. Fruity and smokey, with some salt and licorice. But the ice mellows the strength a bit, the same cigars would be nice but even something a tad milder would work, although not too mild. Maybe a Cohiba Robusto for the Cuban smokers, or something as the Oliva Series V Melanio for the fans of Nicaraguan cigars. The Big Papi by David Ortiz is another cigar that comes to mind. The wooden aromas of these cigars would complement the whisky.

As old fashioned the experience is different again. The orange oils overpower every other aroma in the nose. The flavors now are mainly orang and caramel with a little burn, a little bite. A strong cigar with nutty flavors would go well with this cocktail. I’m thinking about a La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor or Arturo Fuente Gran Reserva, the version with the Cameroon wrapper. But something stronger can go as well. I paired the drink with a Liga Privada Year of the Ox and the strong woody, slightly sweet cigar was a great companion.

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.

As for the third cocktail, I went with a penicillin. Normally the cocktail asks for a blended whisky as a base, but since I didn’t have blended whisky when writing this article, I went for the Singleton 12 instead. On the nose this cocktail is smokey and fruity with a clear ginger aroma from the honey ginger syrup. The first sip is confusing, it is an odd mix of sweetness, spice from the ginger, lemon and the Smokey parts of the Stalla Dhu truth be told. Odd but nice. There is almost an orange flavor in the back of the throat and the cocktail is way more pleasant than I was expecting. I’m not a fan of Smokey or peated whiskies and the Stalla Dhu Truthbetold 22 is a bit too smokey for me, but it works wonders in this cocktail. My friends who like smokey whisky drooled over this bottle, so it’s not the quality of the whisky but it’s my personal preference about smoke. The cocktail also has umami flavors. It goes well with a strong cigar with woody notes. It has to be a strong cigar to stand up to the smokiness and lemon. A bit of sweetness in the cigar would also be a big plus. For the Cuban smokers I would suggest something like a Partagas Serie D #4 or a Bolivar Belicoso Finos. A nice Arturo Fuente OpusX or the Oliva series V Habano would be a nice pairing as well. As for me, I smoked a more than 10-year-old Gordo from a small boutique brand, Don Duarte, but that’s a cigar that you won’t find in any store with that age.

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