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 CGars 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. This whisky comes from a distillery in the highlands, but it’s not been disclosed which one. It is a limited edition, but the bottle does not say how many bottles were produced. What we do know is that two highly regarded people from their industries, cigar specialist Mitchell Orchant and whisky specialist Ron Morrison worked together to create this white whale. This 40% ABV whisky is their baby.
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 Highball to see what to pair the whisky with.
This Stalla Dhu Orchant Seleccion Cgars Malt Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky has a beautiful golden colour. The liquid is thick and oily, it has a nice viscosity. The spirit has a nose of citrus and honey, with a mild amount of ethanol and spices. Ethanol is the alcohol smell that you get when you smell a spirit. The spirit is sweet yet spicy. The sweetness reminds me of honey, with South East Asian spices as a supporting flavour. But it’s not just honey, it’s a mixture of different sweetness such as caramel and preserved fruits too but without becoming too sweet. The sweetness creates a long, pleasurable finish. This calls for a medium bodied cigar without pepper. Maybe a Macanudo Inspirado or a Davidoff Millennium Blend. Mitchell Orchant is known for his love of Cuban cigars, so he probably had the Cuban flavour profile on his mind while choosing this whisky and that explains why a very peppery cigar doesn’t match well. A nice Hoyo de Monterrey would go well with this spirit.
The nose is milder in a highball glass compared to a Glencairn glass. There is hardly any alcohol in the aroma. The honey, spice and citrus that I got in the Glencairn glass are noticeable in the highball glass too. The drink is just as smooth, there is no bite from the alcohol but it does warm you up a little. I taste honey and caramel sweetness with a bit of spice and almonds. It’s a smooth and pleasant whisky and in this type of glass something peppery could be a great pairing. I was smoking a Wise Man Maduro by Foundation Cigars and that was a bliss. A medium bodied, full flavoured Cuban would work great too.
The classic, and therefore the cocktail I make with all whiskies that I try new. It’s so simple to make, yet so elegant. The Stalla Dhu CGars Malt Old Fashioned has the aroma of orange and caramel. Orange is not surprising as that small piece of orange peel is always overpowering the aroma of the spirit. There is no alcohol noticeable in the aroma. The alcohol is noticeable in the drink though. The cocktail is sweet and creamy with an orange flavour and a slight bitterness. The alcohol burns a little. The aftertaste is almost minty. This version of the old fashioned is beautifully balanced. This cocktail will be very nice with a medium bodied cigar with a nutty, woody or even chocolate flavour profile will be a perfect pairing. Something like the Rocky Patel ALR second edition, CAO Sessions or a Cuban Sancho Panza.
and now for the Old-Fashioned recipe:
1 sugar cube
3 dashes of bitters
2 oz or 60 ml of Stalla Dhu CGars Malt
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.
The Manhattan was the most famous cocktail in the world shortly after it was invented in New York City’s Manhattan Club, sometime around 1880 (as the story goes). Over the years, the whiskey classic has dipped in and out of fashion before finding its footing as one of the cornerstones of the craft cocktail renaissance. Traditionally it is made with American whiskey, but I’m making it with this Stalla Dhu CGars Malt.
On the nose this cocktail is floral with lemon. The lemon comes from the lemon twist garnish of course. The cocktail itself is bitter and reminds me of a negroni because of the bitterness. Now I am not a fan of a negroni, and the Manhattan won’t be a cocktail that I will order anywhere either. There is a lot of wood, this is an oaky cocktail with plenty of alcohol in the taste, although there is no alcohol burn. As for a pairing, I would not pair this with a cigar with a woody profile, that would be overkill. Something with plenty of pepper from the Tatuaje portfolio seems a good choice, or the classic Don Pepin Black.
And now for the Manhattan recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Stalla Dhu CGars Malt
1 ounce or 30ml of sweet vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 dash of orange bitters
Garnish with a brandied cherry or lemon twist. Add the whisky, sweet vermouth and both bitters to a mixing glass with ice, and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a brandied cherry or a lemon twist