Stalla Dhu Islay Single Malt Review, Recipes & Pairings

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 Islay 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 whisky comes from an Islay distillery, but the specific distillery is undisclosed. It is a small batch release, but not a single cask. The whisky is bottled at 40% ABV.

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.

Glencairn

The spirit has a nice and warm amber colour. The viscosity is good, the whisky is quite oily. The aroma reveals the smoke and the peat, while there is clearly an alcohol smell too with spice, citrus and a little sweetness. Now the peat did worry me, as I am no fan of peated whiskies but surprisingly this whisky is not bad. This is the amount of peat that I can handle although it’s still too peated to be a daytime drink for me. While drinking I taste a lot of wood underneath the peat, with some salt and freshness that remind me of green apples. The saltiness is also lingering in the slightly sweet finish. The Stalla Dhu Islay Single Malt is demanding a stronger type of cigar. Maybe something from A.J. Fernandez or the Espinosa 601 La Bomba. Cuban smokers can try pairing this with Bolivar, Cohiba or Partagas.

Highball

Surprisingly there is a stronger alcohol aroma in the nose from a highball glass. You’d expect a stronger aroma in a Glencairn glass due to the shape. There is also more smoke and less sweetness in the nose. But when sipping the spirit, the smoke is less strong as in a Glencairn, just like the peat whole the spice is a little bit stronger. The spirit still has the saltiness and there’s a bit of pepper now. Again, this is a whisky to pair with something stronger like the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo that I was smoking at the time. But I can see this go well with a Plasencia Alma Fuerte or a Diesel Unholy Cocktail as well.

Old Fashioned

Even with an orange peel the aroma is still smoky and peaty. The orange, which is usually quite dominant in the aroma, is very subtle here. The cocktail itself is peaty, spicy and bitter. I have no clue where the bitterness comes from, I even checked the orange peel to see if by any chance I cut it too thick but no. The white layer between the orange skin and the flesh of the fruit is bitter and if you cut your peel to thick, this cocktail might become to bitter. But none of this happened here. The Stalla Dhu Islay Single Malt Old Fashioned isn’t balanced. I think that this particular whisky just isn’t made for an old fashioned. The sweetness and orange notes are completely overpowered by the smoke and bitterness. But if you like bitter cocktails such as a Negroni, this might be the Old Fashioned for you. I suggest pairing it with a strong earthy cigar.

and now for the Old-Fashioned recipe:

1 sugar cube
3 dashes of bitters

2 oz or 60 ml of Stalla Dhu Islay 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.

Spiked Southern Tea

I never made this cocktail before, but I love ice tea. Warm tea is not my thing, unless it’s a nice Chinese Pu-Erh tea, but on a warm day there is no better beverage than a cold Ice Lemon Tea or Ice Lime Tea. So when I read about this cocktail, I knew I had to try it. The only difference I made was changing the glassware. Instead of the Collins glass from the recipe, I went with a copper mule mug. Not for a specific reason, but I just wanted to try the new mule mugs I bought that day.

The aroma is smoky and peaty with a hint of the tea. This is a very nice summer cocktail; it combines best of both worlds. Sweetness and smoke. The sweetness of the tea and the simply syrup mask the peat yet the smokiness still shines through. The alcohol feels mellow and smooth. This is a great cocktail to pair with many cigars. Go for a medium to full bodied cigar and you’ll be happy. It doesn’t matter if the flavour profile of the cigar is earthy, woody, nutty or chocolate forward, it will all go well. I would however be hesitant to pair the Stalla Dhu Islay Single Malt Spiked Southern Tea with a very peppery cigar though.

And now for the Spiked Southern Tea recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Stalla Dhu Islay Single Malt
4 ounces or 120ml of Iced Tea
1 ounce or 30ml of Simple Syrup
Stir all ingredients with plenty of ice in a Collins glass.

Inspector X

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